SUPPORT FOR ISOLATED CHRISTIAN FAMILIES IN TURKEY
“Just as Jesus did, we want to embrace children in Turkey with God’s love,” says Ibrahim Deveci. The director of Kucak Yayıncılık, a ministry serving children and parents in Turkey, Deveci spoke on SAT-7 TÜRK as part of an episode raising awareness of resources for isolated Christian families.
“Being a child from a Christian family in Turkey is not easy at all,” shares Ibrahim Deveci, speaking recently on the SAT-7 TÜRK program Homemade. “My son, who is 18 years old, is the only Christian in a school of 2,000 children.”
As in many cultures around the world, Turkish identity is closely intertwined with history, culture, and religion. Ninety-eight percent of Turkey’s population is Muslim, and there is a common understanding that to be Turkish means to be Muslim. The tiny fraction of the population who are members of Christian ethnic minorities are seen as outside of normal Turkish culture, although they have lived in the region for centuries. But when Turkish Muslims decide to become Christians, they can face even bigger challenges. They are sometimes regarded as “traitors”, and these misconceptions can lead to ostracization, and – in tragic cases – to violence against Christians.
The resulting isolation can impact children of Christian families as well as adults. However, there are ministries that work against this isolation, including Kucak Yayıncılık, which organises summer camps that bring these children together from across Turkey, and also publishes books and magazines. SAT-7 TÜRK, which produces programs to share God’s love with children and help them feel part of a wider Christian family, also provides a platform for ministries like Kucak Yayıncılık.
“Kucak’s ministry is very important to Turkey’s Church,” says Şemsa, Presenter of Homemade. Deveci adds, “It is a great blessing for children to meet once a year with other children with similar views and spiritual backgrounds.” When asked about the purpose of their ministry for children, Deveci points to Mark 10:14, in which Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” He also explains that Kucak supports Christian parents with seminars, saying, “Many of those who attend church in Turkey today are first-generation Christians. We are still learning how to raise our children according to the culture of the Bible.”
Şemsa’s words are echoed in comments from the channel’s viewers. “Kucak’s ministry is a huge blessing,” writes one mother. “The children’s ministry was like a school. My daughter grew up with the Kucak youth camps and later we served at the camps together.” Another adds, “I praise God my two sons grew up with the Kucak youth camps.”
And speaking after the program, Stefanie Mitchell, Communications Officer for SAT-7 TÜRK and SAT-7 PARS, who grew up in a Christian family in Turkey, says: “These camps were the only place I could freely pray, sing, worship, and learn more about my faith with other children. These were summers of friends and laughter; of games and skits; and of hikes, swims, dances, and treasure hunts. In fact, it was at one of these camps that I made the decision to follow Christ.”
• Pray for children in isolated Christian families, asking that they will tangibly feel and experience the love and belonging they have in Jesus
• Pray for Christian parents raising children in ways that may be counter-cultural, asking God to give them strength and wisdom
• Give thanks for the ministry of Kucak Yayıncılık and pray that the ministry’s summer camps and publications, as well as SAT-7 TÜRK’s programs, will continue to bless young people in Turkey