Since 2018, Turkey has forced nearly 200 Protestant clergy and their families to leave the country. Intelligence officials claim they pose a security risk but do not say how. The expulsions began after the U.S. sanctioned Turkey for imprisoning an American pastor.
Soner Tufan works with the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, a network of about 40 churches. He says 28 of those deported were Americans, with the rest from Britain, South Korea, Latin America, and other nations.
Distrust of Christians
Tufan says this pattern has developed due to distrust and hatred of Christians in Turkey. “The first day I became Christian, my older brother broke my nose. Just because I became a Christian. That day, I accepted this kind of life.”
“The church has a big problem with worship houses. There is no freedom to build our churches in Turkey.”
Additionally, Pastors in Turkey have no way of getting trained. Tufan says, “There is no Bible College. Also, we need to pray for the young generation. It’s really difficult to raise godly children in Turkey. I have three children. All of them went to school where they were the only Christians.”
When Christians try to register as Christian instead of Muslim, they have to take several extra steps. And when Christians die, it can be difficult to find a place available to bury them.
Planting more churches
Tufan hopes to plant more churches in the future with the help of Asian Access. He has partnered with Asian Access for many years. “When we came together, we really clicked with each other. And we liked the philosophy of Asian Access. They have flexibility. They respect the local people’s identity, their culture, and their way of working.”
Ask God to protect Christians in Turkey and to grow the Church.
This story originally appeared at Mission Network News and is republished here with permission.