April 18th, 2007: Three Christians in Turkey were martyred for their faith.
The leaders of Christian churches in Turkey have requested a global day of prayer for their country each April 18th, in honor of the men who lost their lives for the sake of the gospel.
Turks Necati Aydin and Ugur Yüskel, along with German Tilmann Geske, are considered the first evangelical martyrs of the Christian church in Turkey since 1979.
Having converted to Christianity in the mid 1990s, Aydin played the role of Jesus in an Easter play just 10 days before his death. Yüskel was also a convert to Christianity, and Geske emigrated with his family from Germany to Turkey 10 years prior. The three men worked together in a local Bible distribution office in Malatya, Turkey.
Sitting in the congregation that Easter Sunday were 5 young men who had befriended the three Christians, expressing interest in Christianity. They asked the three if they could learn more about the Bible, and a meeting was set for April 18th at the distribution office.
Once all were assembled, the young men revealed their ulterior motives, announcing they were not interested in Christianity but in protecting their country and religion from outside influences. They proceeded to interrogate, torture, and kill the three men.
A Christian worker arrived at the office two hours later, finding the door locked and hearing strange sounds from inside the building. He phoned the police who broke down the door and found 8 men inside: 5 living and 3 dead. What went on during those hours is preserved in video footage taken on the young men’s cell phones.
Aydin left behind his wife and 2 children, Geske, a wife and three children, and Yüskel, his fiancée. Words from Yüskel’s favorite Psalm adorn the monument marking his grave: “Whom have I in heaven but You? I desire You more than anything on earth” (Psalm 73:25). His gravestone reads, “He was killed like Jesus.”
Geske’s wife publicly forgave the young men with Jesus’ words: “They know not what they do.”
Upon being asked for a statement after her husband Necati’s death, his wife Shemsa offered this message to the world: “Necati’s and my request is this: May the blood of Jesus Christ and the blood of Necati and Ugur, because they were Turks, provide a way for Turkey to see the light of Jesus Christ. May their blood open their eyes so that they can see the love of Jesus Christ. His arms are extended to them in love—longing to surround them with His mercy.”
Historically, the aftermath of persecution often been the increase of Christianity in an area over time. Eight years after the death of the three modern-day martyrs, Turkey remains, on the whole, largely unreached. According to Operation World, less than 0.1% of the 72 million people in Turkey profess to be Christians.
Spurred on to further action by the sacrifice of these men, the Alliance of Protestant churches issued a letter to the Church worldwide, requesting prayer for Turkey from the global Christian community. The document includes an introduction, a shortened version of the letter, and seven prayer points, the first three being
- Prayer for the blessing and peace of Turkey in general, as the Lord desires us to bless and be a blessing to all.
- Prayer that the Lord will display His love and mercy to the people of Turkey by pouring out His Holy Spirit upon the land, revealing His glory through healings, signs and wonders.
- Prayer that the Lord breaks down the lies and the endless disinformation about Christ, the Bible, and Christians—lies that have blinded and hardened hearts in Turkey. Pray that God redeems the negative memories of history.
You can read the full letter here.
Today Eurasia Community joins the body of Christ worldwide in praying for the reached and unreached of Turkey, agreeing with Shemsa Aydin that the blood of the martyrs will open the eyes of the Turks to the love of Jesus Christ.
Photo cred: http://www.persecutionblog.com/2014/03/murderers-set-free-in-turkey.html