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Prayer for Turkey

By a former missionary in the Middle East

December 2021

Turkey, a country of over 80 million people, shares borders and maintains close relationships with eight other countries. (How many can you name? Answer at the bottom of this article.) It also hosts several million refugees, the bulk of them from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. There are amazing stories of people within this group or that group of refugees seeing visions or dreaming about Jesus and coming to faith.

And yet, while there are many Christians working there and despite the fact that much of the New Testament was written either in or to churches in what is now modern-day Turkey, actual Turkish believers number only a few thousand. For such a rich history, one might expect more believers, but circumstances have been difficult and the challenges have been great over the years.

Until 1453, Constantinople (now called Istanbul) had been the seat of Eastern Christianity for over 1,000 years. But that all changed when Islamic armies conquered a fragmented empire and eventually established the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire lasted until World War I when, after it sided with Germany, the empire was divided into different parts by the Allied forces. Turkey fought for its independence a few years later and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became the founder and first president of secular, modern-day Turkey.

Unfortunately, in the latter years of the Ottoman Empire and the early years of Turkey’s independence, the government was very hard on the Christian population. An estimated 750,000 to over 1,500,000 Greek Christians were deported from their homes and many were killed in those turbulent years.

Even though the government today remains secular, there is increasing religious pressure from the top down against the church and local believers. Social pressure also works against people who show any open interest in Christianity.

Please pray for Christian workers who are working there to continue to faithfully share their faith, as visa issues are becoming more and more difficult and some families have had to leave with little or no notice. This makes planning for the future tenuous and uncertain, which can create anxiety.

The lack of obvious fruit in Turkey and similar countries can also frustrate and discourage Christian workers. Please pray for grace and strength to continue on faithfully, day after day.

Key prayer points for Turkey
• Pray for grace, boldness, and faithfulness for the Christian workers who remain in country.
• Pray for stamina to stay the course. There is much Christian worker turnover, which is tough on families that remain.
• Pray for Turkish people considering matters of faith right now, that God would give them courage and wisdom this very week to choose life and freedom in Jesus.
• Pray for outreach among the millions of refugees currently residing in Turkey. Pray that local believers would step out in faith, trusting that God will lead them to the right person to tell about their belief in Jesus.

(The eight countries that border Turkey are Iraq, Bulgaria, Georgia, Iran, Greece, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Syria.)