Published: 00:01 GMT Daylight Time - Monday 18 April 2011
Lent Prayer - Turkey
Country/Region: Turkey, Middle East and North Africa
Christians in Turkey are the objects of widespread prejudice and suspicion. Although modern Turkey was created with a strongly secular basis, Islam is still seen as a major part of Turkish identity, and Islamism is growing in strength. Christians are traditionally associated with the West and even with disloyalty to the state. The media often encourages anti-Christian hostility by spreading wildly inaccurate allegations. Sometimes the general antagonism boils over into threats and acts of violence against individuals. Six Christians have been martyred in recent years. Converts from Islam are especially vulnerable to harassment.
Christians at a service of dedication for their new church, built with help from Barnabas Fund
Despite Turkey’s long Christian heritage, stretching back to Biblical times, it is now overwhelmingly Muslim, and Christians number only about 0.1% of its population. The great majority are from the historic churches, although there are also some Protestant groups (one of which is recognised by the government) and a few thousand converts from Islam. The Turkish constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but in order to control religious practice and limit the place of religion in public life the government has imposed restrictions on Christians as well as others. For example, although there is no law against sharing one’s faith, Christians have often been harassed for engaging in evangelism or providing Christian teaching for children.
Christians face particular difficulty in opening, maintaining and operating places of worship. Religious services may take place only in locations designated by the government, and landlords are reluctant to rent private property to churches for fear of harassment by the police. Christian buildings are also liable to attack. In 2010 an ancient church in Nusaybin, dating from the 4th century, was defaced with anti-Christian and pro-Islamic slogans. The attackers tore down a fence to enter the grounds and daubed aggressive messages in paint on the stone walls.
Pray for Christians in Turkey, that their Muslim neighbours will cease to see them as a threat to their country and come to respect their contribution to national life. Ask the Lord to protect them against slander, hostility and violence. Pray that the government will resist pressure to give a more privileged status to Islam, and also that it may ease the restrictions on the churches and give them greater freedom to proclaim the Gospel and meet for worship. Pray that God will give His people grace to stand for Him in a difficult environment.
Barnabas Fund projects in Turkey include:
This article is taken from
“Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent 2011” - order your FREE copy here.