Area: 779,452 sq km
Straddles two continents; 3% in Europe (Thrace), 97% in Asia (Anatolia). Also controls the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles, vital sea links between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Its strategic position has made the area of prime importance throughout history.
Population: 75,705,147 Annual Growth: 1.24%
Official language: Turkish Languages: 45 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
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Persecution and hostility are on the rise. Several events in recent years highlight the increasingly strident and violent nature of both Turkish nationalism and radical Islam in their opposition to the people of God. The murder of a Catholic priest in 2006 and the grisly torture and murders of one expat and two Turkish Christians in Malatya in 2007 illustrate this. The Malatya case points to powerful nationalist elements in the state, including the security forces (army and police). The two murdered Turks were the first Turkish converts from Islam to be martyred in the modern Turkish Church. The Church anticipates they will not be the last. Pray for:
a) Courage amid persecution. Social ostracism, harassment by security forces, arbitrary arrests, and disruptions of church services on spurious pretexts all occur, bringing some insecurity, fear and uncertainty. Outright violence and murder form another level of persecution Christians must endure. Pray for protection and for boldness, and pray against a spirit of fear. Greater growth will inevitably lead to greater opposition; pray that such opposition in turn leads to greater growth!
b) Perseverance. Emigration is often a way to escape persecution, find a good paying job or find a foreign marriage partner. Backsliding into Islam or merely fading into obscurity by distancing oneself from Christian community are other avoidance options. Pray for local believers to persist in following Jesus, whatever the cost.
c) The legal standing of Christians, both as a whole and as individual congregations. Preparation for EU entry brought promises to liberalize laws restricting non-Islamic religions, yet believers continue to face endless obstructions. Congregations can now be legal entities as associations and while they can theoretically gain permission to build churches, such applications are often unfairly blocked or saddled with requirements most congregations cannot afford. Renting space often results in frequently getting evicted by worried landlords. Prejudices in state or religious educational instruction and materials can also incite harassment. TeK works proactively to encourage religious freedom.
Developing the future church:
a) Leadership development and Bible training. Various in-church or TEE programmes exist. Current nationwide efforts in Bible training are Hasat, Filipus, Martin Bucher Institute, and Donat.
b) Reaching the younger generation is vital but difficult. Over 60% of the population is under 28 years old. It is illegal for adults to proselytize those under 18, but there is nothing stopping youths from evangelizing their peers. Camp ministries have been effective; one called Kucak has been active for 20 years. Pray especially for Christian youth second-generation Turkish Christians need to have their own experience with Jesus if they are to stand firm.
For an additional 10 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Turkey.