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Have you ever thought why the growth in the number of Turkish believers in Christ is so slow? In the last 50 years the number of known Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) has gone from 2 in the early 1960’s to around 4000 in 2012.

The population of Turkey is currently around 75 million, so 4000 believers does not seem like a great amount, especially when you look at the growth in Iran or even Kazakhstan where over the last 20 years growth has gone from a few thousand to about 100.000 yet the population of Kazakhstan is only 17 million. 

So what is it that is stopping Turks coming into relationship with our Father God? Is it really just that Turkish people see Christianity solely as a western religion? There is the famous saying “To be a Turk is to be a Muslim, to be a Muslim is to be a Turk”. So maybe they are happy following Islam and we should let them get on with? But if we do that we would not be following Christ’s command of going out and making disciples!!

Or maybe there is another reason? I have heard people say that when they have travelled overland through Turkey on their way to maybe Syria, or Iran and beyond, they shared that while they were in Turkey they sensed oppressiveness over the country and yet as soon as they left that oppressiveness disappeared. Another reason for the slow growth could be that people have not heard or understood?

During the time I have been in Turkey I have met with many Turkish believers and have come to recognise those who have really grasped the message of salvation, because it is obvious in their faces. I am not saying they walk round with a “holier than thou look”, but their faces glow because they have found rich treasure!!

So what do we do or what needs to happen? Over the last 50 years so many seeds have been sown and yet it appears few have taken root and grown. Maybe God isn’t interested in Turkey and its people because they are so stubborn and will not listen to his voice? I don’t believe that line of thought, but in the world of today where we look for instant solutions, we want it to happen now!

I firmly believe that there will be a great harvest amongst Turkish people; it will not be through my efforts or yours, but through the giver of life, our Father God! All we can do is continue to petition the Father to pour out his Holy Spirit on the land and lift this oppressiveness that hangs over the country, open the eyes hearts and minds of the people.

We still need to play our part of the “great commission” and get out there in the cities, towns and villages. Praying for people, proclaiming the message of salvation together with Turkish believers, showing the people that a Saviour has been born to them.

Ultimately it is only our Father God who can nurture the seeds to grow and become “oaks of righteousness.”  When it happens it will be in His time and not ours!

 It’s sad to think that because Neceti Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, two Turkısh belıevers and their German co-workerTilman Geske took seriously Christ’s command of the “Great Commission” Matthew 28 vs. 18 – 20, in sharing the message of hope and salvation from God’s word with the people of Turkey in Malatya and beyond that the “Pray for Turkey” Day began.

The tragic events of 18th April 2007 in the Turkish city of Malatya when the three men were murdered by Muslıms claiming they were seekers to the Christian faith. Makes me realise that following Jesus is not an easy stroll in the park, in fact Jesus tells us more than once that the cost of following him may mean we surrender our lives, just like Neceti, Uğur and Tilman have done.

A couple of years ago, I heard about the testimony of a student in another Turkish city, but who was originally from Malatya who came to faith in Christ because of the testimony of one of the widows. It struck me that even in the face of tragedy the hope of salvation can bear fruit.

Now as we approach the 18th April 2013, now marked as “Pray for Turkey” Day let us remember Neceti, Uğur and Tilman and their families, but also as believers in the “Body of the Risen Christ” let us stand together and call on our Father God to pour out His Holy Spirit on this vast country, to open the eyes, hearts and minds of the people to the message of hope and salvation within God’s word.

Let them discover that a saviour has been born to them who seeks relationship, and not conflict with them. Let us carry on and take the message of hope into market places, tea houses and homes of the people of Turkey, just as Christ commanded us to do.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4 vs. 7 – 9.

Prayer Points

Pray for the blessing and peace of Turkey in general, as the Lord desires us to bless and be a blessing to all.

Pray the Lord will display His love and mercy to the people of Turkey by pouring out His Holy Spirit upon our land, revealing His glory through healings, signs and wonders.

Pray the Lord breaks down the lies and the endless disinformation about Christ, the Bible and Christians that has blinded and hardened hearts in our land. Pray that God redeems the negative memories of history.

Pray that hearts and eyes are opened to see Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.

Pray for the Turkish believers who are always on the frontline to walk close to the Lord. Pray for refreshing, emboldening, strengthening, protection and encouragement.

Pray for more servant hearted leaders, for good role models, and for faithful labourers.

Pray for the on-going unity amongst the churches and for its increase and deepening.

 

So what are you doing on the 23rd April 2013? You could come and join other believers on the Büyükada Outreach. This is an amazing opportunity to reach out to Muslims, share the message of the gospel, pray for them and minister to them.

This event takes place every year on the 23rd April; thousands of Muslim pilgrims make their way to the monastery of St George on Büyükada (the Big Island) in the Sea of Marmara near Istanbul to seek the blessings of the saint. Last year around 60.000 made the trip, seeking answers to life’s problems. Following a ritual, part of  which is that as the pilgrims climb the steep hill up to the monastery, sometimes barefoot, is to unwind spools of thread. The pilgrims believe that if their thread is unbroken when they reach journey’s end, their prayers will be answered.

                   

In 2012 nearly 300 believers from over 20 churches in Turkey along with believers from other countries, joined the throng to distribute bibles, do creative evangelism, preach publicly and offer prayer.

The Muslim pilgrims who would normally reject the Christian message, receive it eagerly and with curiosity at this event. People are touched and receive answers from our prayers. Last year a young couple approached one of the believers and said “we have been looking for you all day, will you pray for us again please”? It turned out that this believer’s prayers for the couple were answered so they sought her out again. Also four people said they wanted to become believers and be part of a fellowship.

Overall more than 8000 Incils (New Testaments) were distributed as well as thousands of tracts, DVDs and other literature.

So remember the date and the location, 23rd April 2013, Büyükada (Big Island) near Istanbul Come and stand with us to minister to the lost!!  

And if you cannot make it, then pray!!!

Pray that Muslims will come with open hearts and minds.

Pray that Muslims will hear the message of the gospel.

Pray that those Muslims who receive an Incil, DVD or other literature will read it and God’s words will speak to them.

Pray for good weather.