Monday, June 15, 2009


I recently found out that a documentary DVD has been made about the slayings of the first Turkish Christian martyrs. Ugur Yuksel and Necati Aydin, along with a German believer named Tilmann Geske, were killed by an organized group of five teenagers in the city of Malatya in east-central Turkey on April 18, 2007. (See my related posts from 4/18/07, 4/28/07, 8/8/07, 4/18/08.) You can check out the film's website at The website includes a 30-day prayer guide for the nation of Turkey put on by The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas.

Being myself a Christian living in Turkey at that time and committed to spreading the news that Jesus Christ was the Redeemer of the world, I remember how strongly I felt the news of their deaths. Several of my housemates had actually met these men a few months earlier. Just two days after the killings I traveled to the city of Adana on the southern coast of Turkey and worshiped at the church where Geske was a member for six years. It was powerful. I remember the strength of the Turkish church and their determination: determination to persevere unswervingly in the face of opposition, given the faithfulness of God and the hope of the resurrection; determination to continue their love for their nation; and determination to forgive the killers and embody the power of the cross and the message of a God who loves those hostile to him. The martyrs' family publicly forgave the killers--news which made the front page of the newspapers and shocked many.

But what I think I remember most was this: As an expatriate, I had often thought of "us" expats and "them," the Turkish church. I loved the Turks and prayed for them daily--as I still do often--but I always prayed for "them." But on April 18 I remember reading Psalms 58 and 59 and unthinkingly found myself praying "we" and "us"--a prayer which, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, opened to my eyes that I was one with them. I hurt with them. As a Christian in Turkey, I was now caught up in this, too. Would my turn come soon? I had already endured a notable degree of mocking, derision, mistrust, and verbal abuse there for telling others about God's salvation. I am one with the Turkish church was the word burning in my heart. It was a moment I will not forget.

Lord Jesus, the Father has begun to pour out your Spirit and vitalize your servants. Would your redeemed saints in Turkey spread news of you through their bold faith, their self-sacrificing service to their family and friends, and through persistent hope in the Resurrection--both yours and theirs.

"Dirilis ve yasam benim. Bana iman eden kisi olsede yasayacaktin." ("I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies." John 11:25 -- from Tilmann Geske's gravestone)

"Necati Aydin: 1972 - infinity" -- from Aydin's gravestone


Halfmom said...

I remember when this happened, my concern for all the believers in Turkey (well, maybe for the few I knew more than others) and thinking of how wrong this all was. It's easy to see the brutal slaying as wrong but so much harder I think to see the slaying that goes on daily from the enemy for the hearts and souls of the Turks - and ours as well.

Ted M. Gossard said...

This reminds me of the impact Richard Wurmbrand's message had on me years back, especially through his book, "Tortured for Christ." I really need to get back into getting "Voice of the Martyrs" materials (it used to be called, "Jesus to the Communist World" when I was a young Christian). We had Richard and his wife Sabrina into our area; they stayed at my aunt's home, and he even tried to talk me into joining them in their work (since I had been the one that got them to come to our area, and had worked with the churches on it).

But good to see and hear the Spirit's work in your own life in the unity in identity the Spirit gives, so as to suffer with those who suffer, as the end of Hebrews tells us we're to do. So easy for me to be lax in this, I'm afraid. For many of us, the spectre of Communism was THE place where Christians were persecuted.

We do need to be there in prayers and other ways for Christians who are hurting and persecuted due to their faith, and faithfulness in spreading the gospel.

I wonder what Turkey is like in the present day, and how Christians are carrying on the work of the Lord, there.