Persecution in Turkey
Turkey is one of the largest unreached nations in the world, with less than one percent of the Turkish population identifying as Christian. The already small Christian church has experienced social oppression, persecution, and fear of sharing the gospel since it’s predominantly a Muslim region. Recent changes in government have seen the decline of the old secular party of Ataturk and the ascent of the Islamic regime. This has gone to further the difficulty of sharing the gospel in the region and has been causing security concerns among the missionary community.
Horizons’ History in Turkey
Horizons short term mission teams have served in Turkey dozens of times since 2014, and on each trip, the Lord softens the soil and opens more avenues to reach the hearts of the Turkish people as well as the over 2 million Syrian refugees that have settled in the country. Horizons established local partnerships as well as a lighthouse in 2016 through an ongoing partnership with another missions organization. This lighthouse/church congregation has baptized several new believers in 2018 and is not only reaching families close to its central location in the city, but the frequent attendees are reaching out to the villages in the region and seeing new people coming to Christ.
March Mission Trip
In March of 2019, a Horizons mission team boldly shared the gospel in one of Turkey’s largest cities. Many cities in Turkey have a rich Biblical history that still reflects the Roman era and the Ottoman Empire with its unique architecture.
During this past trip, our team had the opportunity to share the gospel and visit with over 65 households, in support of another ministry. Many of the families they interacted with were Kurdish. The Kurds are a distinct ethnic group and one that has been persecuted often in the Middle East. There are about 10-15 million Kurds in Turkey, and since WWI, the situation for them has not always been an easy one as a minority group. Despite many hardships, the Kurdish people have been very receptive to the gospel. We need to be praying for the Kurds in their difficulties as well as for Christ to continue to capture their hearts.
God Hears the Prayer of Kurdish Family
One particular Kurdish family our team met was thrown out of their house. They contacted a friend who was a believer seeking help. Their friend knew of an apartment next to her house that was looking for renters, but the owner was not going to rent it to any Kurds. So, she called her pastor to inform him of the situation, and the Kurdish man said to our team if the pastor prays to God about allowing his family to rent out the apartment, and the owner changes his mind, then he will read the Bible. Well, sure enough after the pastor prayed, the apartment owner decided to change his mind and allow the Kurdish family to move in after all.
Both the husband and wife decided to follow Jesus shortly after this and are being followed up with, by a nearby pastor. In total, seven people decided to give their lives to Jesus throughout the entire trip!
Hopes and Prayers for the Future of Turkey
Testimonies like this are driving us to continue sending teams to Turkey and to pray often for the growth of the church there. Today many ministries and churches are working among the Syrian refugees and the Kurdish people in Turkey even though the situation is difficult, and we pray for an increase in these ministries. Another big prayer need is for more missions specifically to the Turkish people. As we have mentioned above, the situation in the country has made it difficult for ministry among the Turks.
We are encouraged in the knowledge that historically Christianity has thrived and grown under persecution, as we have seen over the last decade with the booming underground church in Iran. As new opportunities arise in Turkey, Horizons would love to foster a revival of disciples making disciples by establishing further local partnerships and lighthouses through our strategic 1000 Lighthouses initiative.
Regional needs like this are the inspiration behind Horizons’ Prayer for All Nations center where staff and other local Christians gather to pray. We would like to invite you to pray with us for revival in Turkey.