Two years since martyrdom, pastors still feeling pressure in Turkey

By April 18, 2008

Turkey (MNN) — If anything, since the brutal 2006 murders of three Turkish Christians in a small Christian bookstore, life has gotten more difficult for believers–especially, pastors. 

During Global Advance's most recent Frontline Shepherds Conference in Turkey, David Shibley heard the testimonies of several pastors. One Baptist pastor is on the top ten hit-list of a radicalized Islamic group and needs police guards around the church building when worshippers gather. "This particular pastor can't even go shopping without a body guard. Or, I think of another pastor who was completely disowned by his family," said Shibley. 

However, that man's story shifted dramatically. "Now, through just the testimony of his changed life, his formerly-Sunni Muslim parents have both given their lives to Christ and are now members of the congregation where this man is pastor."

Besides the planned teaching during the conferences, pastors are reminded that they have not been forgotten by the body of Christ. They need to be reminded that what they are doing is forging the future. During the conference, Shibley found that man pastors would agree that, "Half of the Turkish people are in sympathy with us though they may not agree with us theologically. The other half have some level of antagonism or even hostility against them, so consequently it is a tremendous challenge."

One of the pastors used the murder of the three Christians to speak to his fellow countrymen about Christ. Despite the risk of speaking on national television about Christianity,
he accepted an invitation to be interviewed to do just that.

"What was most amazing to me is the courage of these wonderful Turkish pastors," he said.  Turkey is 99 percent Islamic. The secular government allows some freedoms for the church, but with its desire to become part of the European Union, more will need to be done to protect human rights. 

Global Advance left Christian materials with the pastors since there is a very shallow supply of them in Turkey. 

"It's important that we see a young generation of young Turkish believers arise who match the commitment level of the radicalized Islamic young people who are ready to lay down their lives for their faith," said Shibley. While they don't teach martyrdom,
they teach that they do need to be ready to live and to die for Jesus. 

"These young men and women who are extremely committed to Christ are going to really make for a brighter future for this nation that is so strategic in our world today," Shibley said.

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