Turkey (MNN) — Christians and the rest of the world are watching closely Turkey's handling of the massacre of three Christians last April. Five men, all in their late teens, killed Turks Necati Aydin and Ugur Yüksel and Christian German national Tilmann Geske. They were tied to their chairs, stabbed and tortured before their throats were slit. The publishing house they worked for printed Bibles and Christian literature.
The killings drew international condemnation and added to Western concerns about whether Turkey can protect its religious minorities. Five people were arrested and charged with murder related to the incident.
IN Network's Turkey country director Behnan Konutgan says the victims' families are being represented by 23 top human rights lawyers in Turkey. "Those lawyers support us and defend our case without getting any money just because of human rights, and they are doing a great thing. They want to go deep and see who is behind the killing of our brothers."
The attorneys are receiving death threats. But the courts have rejected requests for their protection. It is suspected that the five men accused of murder may have been put up to the killing by other individuals or an organization.
Konutgan describes the turmoil within the culture. "To be Turkish is to be Muslim, and you cannot separate it. When we say that we are Christians, they think we are not Turkish, that we're traitors to the country, and we are enemies of the country. That makes great difficulties."
Much good has come from the murders, however. One teen girl was trying to rebel from her family. Becoming a Christian would be a great insult to them, so she purchased a New Testament. She didn't start reading it intently until she saw the murder story on television. Konutgan says, "She [started] reading the New Testament seriously and later on became a Christian. She went to the office to change her identity without knowing any Christians. Now she's a Christian."
A similar story was repeated when a man who was hospitalized saw the story on television and became angry that his religion would allow this to happen. He turned to Christ. "I believe, personally, that hundreds of people like this became Christians secretly," Konutgan says.
IN Network wants to change the perception of what Muslims and secular Turks think about Christianity. "We want to tell them the truth," says Konutgan. "So, through IN Network ministry we want to reach them through evangelizing, through the Web site and giving seminars everywhere."
Konutgan says they have no desire to stop their work. "We [said during the press conference] that we will not stop evangelizing. We will continue evangelizing because it is our right according to the constitution."
Their desire is to reach every Turk. He says Turkey has a rich Christian history, evidenced by the many archaeological ruins in Turkey.
Konutgan is asking for prayer for their work in Turkey. "Pray that the Lord will destroy the wall of nationalism and Islamism in Turkey, and pray for the protection of the church — brothers and sisters and their children in Turkey."
In the meantime, Christians in Turkey need your financial support. Many pastors are working secular jobs in order to supplement their income. Click here to support a Christian leader in Turkey.