Pray with Us: Turkey
While Turkey is not politically affiliated with Islam, the cultural presence of Islam is overwhelming. There are no laws against converting to Christianity, but any Muslim who leaves Islam is punished and isolated from their friends and family. Socially and culturally, Turkey is shut off from the Gospel.
Simple Statistics (britannica.com)
Population: 84 million (over 4 million refugees and approx. 15 million Kurdish)
Official Religion: None
Literacy Rate: Male- 98.8%; Female- 93.6%
Official Language: Turkish
Religion in Turkey
According to Open Doors, Turkey is one of the top fifty countries on the World Watch List for persecuting Christians.
Turkey has not had an official religion since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s; however, a majority of its population is Sunni Muslim. Shiite, (or Shia), Muslims are the second largest religious group. (If you don’t know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite Muslim, check out our blog Islamic Sects: What you need to know). There is a small representation of Chrisitanity in Turkey as well, but there is a strong social stigma against it.
Refugees in Turkey
In the past decade Turkey has grown with over 4 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Most live in dire conditions; they are not allowed to work and receive minimal financial support from Turkey although the World Bank, European Union and United Nations all send aid to Turkey to provide for the refugees.
How we serve Refugees in Turkey
Our ministry continues to financially support several local Arabic-speaking refugee churches in different Turkish cities, in addition to full-time pastors and new converts who are being persecuted. Many refugee families have been waiting for over five years for the United Nations to relocate them to a western country for permanent residence. As they wait, many tune in and watch our Christian Arabic TV channel and find hope in Jesus!
Stories from Turkey
Elham is a Syrian artist who lives in Turkey as a refugee. She was a part of the religious group known as the Unitarian Druze, who pray to both Allah and their religious leader. She is married and has one son. Elham met a Christian who was also from Syria, and he talked to her about Jesus and connected her with our TV station and contact center so that we could share the Gospel with her. When we reached out to Elham, she was hungry for the truth and asked many questions. Within a few days Elham prayed with us and accepted Christ as her Savior, saying that she felt a great joy overcome her after she prayed.
We are thankful that Elham has joined our discipleship program and secure online church. Amazingly, Elham is already sharing the Gospel with her family!
How to Pray for Turkey
- Pray that there would be a cultural reformation in Turkey so that there is less persecution and pressure on Christians.
- Pray for protection of the Turkish people as tensions are rising in Eastern Europe around Ukraine and Russia.
- Pray that the Gospel would be spread with new speed and fervor among the refugees in Turkey and the Turkish people.
- Pray for the Church in Turkey to be able to connect safely and gain new members every day.
- Pray for the ethnically and racially persecuted Kurdish people in Turkey. They make up 18% of the population, live mostly in the Southeast part of the country, and are not even allowed to use their Kurdish language. Pray for the Gospel to penetrate their brokenness to bring eternal hope.