Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says the current political atmosphere has believers on-edge.
“All Christians in Turkey are facing some pressure or distrust from the culture around them and even from their government,” he observes. “The government of President Erdogan is moving in a more Islamic direction.
“They seem to be making Christians more uncomfortable, and making the government more aligned with Islamic priorities.”
In its report, ICC quotes government-controlled papers that discuss an abundance of religious freedom. Turkish Christians tell a very different story, one of harassment, violence, and increasing pressure.
One Christian woman told ICC, “My husband was beaten…more precisely, three people wanted to lynch him. There’s also attacks on the church, both verbally and in writing. For example, those who visit the church are verbally aggressive.”
In recent years, Pastor Andrew Brunson has become a sort of “posterchild” for how Turkish Christians are treated by the government. However, notes Nettleton, certain factors make Brunson a bit of an exception.
“As an American citizen, he has a sort of ‘special cover’ that the average Turkish Christian would not have,” Nettleton explains.
“We’re seeing the pressure by our government on behalf of an American citizen…. that pressure is not being applied on behalf of Turkish citizens who happen to be Christian.”
Although it’s difficult, the situation isn’t completely hopeless. It’s a call to prayer.
First, “pray for President Erdogan,” Nettleton requests. “Pray for him to somehow have an encounter with Christ and come to faith in Christ.
“That would certainly change him, and it would also change Turkey because of the amount of power that he has.”
Second, pray for Turkish Christians.
“[Pray] that they will be courageous and strong in their faith, and [pray] for people to come to faith – even for whole families to come to faith at the same time.”