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Istanbul pastor ministers amid chaos

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Turkey (IMB) — While protesters and police furiously clash in Istanbul, there is a pastor who quietly continues his ministry.

(Image courtesy of the International Mission Board)

(Image courtesy of the International Mission Board)

Nicholas* lives and works in Taksim, the epicenter of the increasingly violent encounters of recent days in Istanbul. In the most recent clashes, according to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Nicholas’ home filled with so much tear gas that his children had to abandon their bedrooms to sleep in the living room, where it was bearable.

Despite the turmoil, Nicholas said he and his family are not afraid. He is concerned about the uncertainty of the future of Turkey but believes it is a blessing to lead a church so close to the action.

“It is important that the church continue normally and demonstrate our faith,” he said. “God is the ultimate authority to whom we submit.”

Nicholas said his nervous neighbors need to see the peace that is evident in the lives of followers of Christ. In fact, in mid-June, Nicholas led 30 people in a subdued worship service despite the brewing threat of violence on the street

Refusing to be distracted by the events swirling around him, he said, “Our mission is beyond this neighborhood and really beyond this world.”

Nicholas said he admires the passion and commitment of the Gezi Park protesters but sees a lack of clear purpose and goals. That is a sharp contrast to his mission of sharing the real hope that comes from having a personal relationship with God, he said.

A few days earlier, Gezi Park was the site of tens of thousands of protesters singing, dancing and drinking in defiance of the prime minister. That party is clearly over; driven out of the park by the police, the protesters have fled and taken to the streets. In addition to being battered and shaken, they are angry and defiant, demanding a change in the country’s leadership. To the protesters, Nicholas said, “Ultimately we find our confidence in God.”

There is a growing fear among Christians in Turkey, but Nicholas said there is always something to fear because Christians live in a broken world.

“Every day there is something to fear — tear gas, cancer, flu and other illness,” he said.

But Christians shouldn’t overcome fear, he explained, by “self-righteousness or willpower.” Victory over fear, Nicholas said, only comes from God.

“If we live life in fear and depression, we’ve stopped living,” he said.

The church will continue on as it always has, because there needs to be a place for people to hear the Gospel. “There are many more dangerous places in the world where our brothers and sisters in Christ meet faithfully,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas asks for prayer for Turkey’s leaders to rule with wisdom and justice. For the citizens of Turkey, he prays they would discover the true hope that can be found in God.

*Name changed


Prayers Asked for Egyptian Christian Seriously Injured In Protest.

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Egypt (ODM) — As Egypt continues to spiral out of control, Open Doors shared this urgent prayer request:

(Photo courtesy Mohamed Shebab86/Twitter)

(Photo courtesy Mohamed Shebab86/Twitter)

Andrew is the son of a ministry leader in one of Upper Egypt’s cities. He is in his last year of medical school.

On Sunday he went out in the early afternoon to join one of the country-wide demonstrations calling for President Morsi to step down. While peaceful protestors were peacefully marching, group of fanatic Islamic Muslims opened fire with machine guns on the protestors.

Andrew suffered two bullets wounds; one ended in his small intestines and the other landed near his spinal cord. He was immediately admitted into the nearby government hospital.

After an initial surgery, the first bullet was removed along with part of his small intestine. Later in the evening, doctors miraculously removed the second bullet safely.  Andrew is still in the intensive care unit and has been admitted into a private hospital.

Open Doors is asking Christians in the West to pray for Andrew. Also pray for all those who lost loved ones in the weekend protests and rallies, which resulted in a reported 16 deaths and 781 injuries. Pray for the violence to end and a peaceful resolution to the escalating situation.

Michael, a Christian leader in Egypt, says: “My heart is bleeding for my country and for the lost souls as well as for those who are going through pain. Moreover, listening to the threats of the fanatical groups who promised more violence and blood if President Morsi is forced to step down, makes myself, my family and all Christians of Egypt cry out: “Ya Rab,” which means: “Oh Lord.”

For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive and restrictive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ’s light in these places.

Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians by supplying Bibles and Christian literature, training Christian leaders, facilitating social/economic projects and uniting believers in the West in prayer for Christians, who are the most persecuted religious group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries.