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Project: Kids in Turkey

Project: Kids in Turkey

There are very few Christian youth in Turkey and many of them can feel discouraged and isolated while some are even bullied for their faith in Christ.

With financial support from Voice of the Martyrs Australia, Kids in Turkey helped address this area of need and for the first time last year, began a youth camp designed to unite Christian youth. The programme began in 2018 as a series of events with worship, teaching and games but then in January 2019, the KIT camp officially launched.

The programme included times of worship, teaching, igloo building and sledding through the snowy hills. Regular events were then organised in the months following and continue to run bi-monthly to this day.

The KIT camp and events ensure youth in Turkey are spiritually equipped to remain faithful followers of Jesus throughout their teenage years. It also engages them through social events so that they connect with other Christian youth for friendship and encouragement.

KIT will continue in 2020 running regular events, two youth camps per year as well as programmes to support and equip youth leaders, all supported by VOM Australia. There are also plans to develop a youth curriculum specific to Turkey to send to local churches teaching them how to engage, encourage and teach their youth.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.

TURKEY: Christian Evangelist Murdered

TURKEY: Christian Evangelist Murdered

On 19 November Korean evangelist Jinwook Kim was stabbed on the streets in the south-eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. He later died in hospital from his injuries; he was 41 years old.

The Public Security Branch Directorate of Murder Bureau has arrested a 16-year-old suspect and an investigation is ongoing.

Kim had arrived in Diyarbakir with his family earlier this year and was pastoring a small community of Christians. The assailant stabbed Kim three times: twice in the heart, once in the back. Officials, however, claim that the incident occurred in an effort to steal Kim’s phone. Local believers urge the authorities to investigate the incident as an assassination, rather than an attempt at extortion.

Kim was married and had one child and his second is expected to be born in the coming days. He had lived in Turkey for five years.

Kim is the first Christian murdered in Turkey since the 2007 Zirve Publishing House murders, which left three Christians martyred in Malatya. Christians living in Turkey have reported an increase in harassment, threats, and other non-violent incidents over the past three years.

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Intercede for Kim’s loved ones, especially his wife who is about to give birth. Ask the Lord to bring strength and comfort during this time of shock, distress and grief. Pray too the Lord will guide her steps as she plans for the future.
  • Pray for Kim’s church members. May the Lord give them courage.
  • Pray for justice for Kim’s family. Ask God to have mercy on the perpetrator and call him to repentance.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

TURKEY: Christian Convert Teacher Dismissed from Duties

TURKEY: Christian Convert Teacher Dismissed from Duties

Turkish Christians request prayer for Christian convert, Esma, who has been withdrawn from her teaching duties. She is being investigated by the National Education Board after the Turkish press accused her of missionary activities through her social media account.

Esma, 40, a graduate from Ataturk Religious Faculty of Erzurum University, has been working at Hasan Fatma Onal Anadolu High School in Kusadasi for the last two years, teaching religion and morality.

On 6 November the Turkish conservative newspaper, Milli Gazete, published an article drawing attention to Esma’s faith as a Christian and accusing her of missionary activity through her private social media accounts. This ‘news’ was then picked up by other Turkish media outlets.

As a consequence, Esma was removed from teaching duties and the National Board of Education started an investigation into her capability as a Christian of teaching religion and morality. Esma has opened a court case against the press and the National Board of Education and has requested that the defamatory and discriminatory remarks be removed from public sources.

Friends report that Esma is a much-loved teacher and that her students have begun a petition in her support.

A Turkish church leader remarks that Esma’s case is significant for a number of reasons in that it highlights the obligatory nature of lessons on religion, the question on whether Christians have equal opportunities as civil servants, the freedom to change one’s religion and discrimination against Christians in Turkish society.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Please pray that Esma will hold firm to her faith during this time of uncertainty. Pray she will trust in the Lord for the outcome.
  • Pray that Esma will be freely able to pick up her teaching duties at the school again soon.
  • Pray the publicity surrounding the case may be used by the Lord as a witness for the Gospel.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

Life at School

Life at School

After the age of 10, every child in Turkey must attend Islamic education classes. However, Beren’s family are Christian and so they were able to obtain permission for an exemption. During religion classes Beren was permitted to sit in another room and do other schoolwork. Beren would also not need to attend the religious exams.

This seemed like a good solution, until her Muslim school friends came to realise why she was not attending the classes. She was a Christian! At first, some of her friends alienated her; they no longer wanted to be associated with ‘such’ a person. However, it didn’t stop there. Some decided that this situation needed to change. One day they physically assaulted her, grabbed her around the throat and shouted, “You need to be a Muslim!”

Beren was terrified. She became physically and emotionally ill and did not want to go to school any more. Her family tried to resolve the situation, meeting with the teachers and students. They were able to persuade the students to apologise to Beren, leading her to become more comfortable with attending school again. However, this event has taken its toll. Beren is now afraid of openly telling her friends that she is a Christian. Beren is still a faithful believer but has decided to attend the religious education classes to avoid being such an easy target in the future.

There are so few Christians in Turkey that many young people find they are the only believers at their school. Pray that the young people of this land who face bullying will receive comfort and encouragement from God, and that He would provide Christian friends.

Voice of the Martyrs is supporting a youth ministry in Turkey to help and encourage Christian teenagers. The ministry runs Christian camps and events, and publishes high quality discipleship training material which helps their Christian growth and knowledge.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.

TURKEY: Entry Ban on Christian Workers

TURKEY: Entry Ban on Christian Workers

For years Turkey has placed restrictions on religious leadership training. As a result, many pastors in the country have been foreign nationals. However, new visa restrictions are now being placed on foreign religious workers entering the country.

In early April, an American pastor (name withheld) had to travel to the United States for a family emergency. Despite working in Turkey for 20 years, authorities informed him that a travel ban had been issued and, if he left, there would be no opportunity for him to return. That ban was confirmed a week later when he attempted to re-enter the country. He was detained overnight and then put on a flight to Germany.

In February, a similar situation happened with an American couple returning to their home in Istanbul after travelling abroad. When consulting with their lawyer and government authorities, it was verified that an entry ban had indeed been issued.

Turkish authorities have not released the reason for these bans. However, the U.S. State Department has issued a warning about travel to Turkey because of unfounded allegations of affiliation with terrorist organisations. In October 2018, Pastor Andrew Brunson was finally released after two years in prison over allegations of espionage and terrorist connections.

Sources: Mission Network News, International Christian Concern, Christianity Today

  • Pray for church leaders who are no longer permitted to return to their homes, nor allowed to continue ministering in churches within Turkey, leaving congregations without their appointed leadership.
  • Pray for foreign Christian workers still in the country.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up leaders for Christians living in Turkey to help disciple and encourage them.

Post your prayer in the comments below.