Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bagdat Caddesi (Bagdad Street) is one of the busiest and most modern streets in Istanbul. Starbucks, Friday's, and Gloria Jean's along with many foreign stores are a reminder of the materialism of the West. Every year Istanbul has more places that remind me of big city America. I enjoy some of the benefits that these things bring, but it is depressing to see more and more Turks moving to materialism as their religion of choice. The god of this world is glorified in this just as much as he is in the worship of Islam. Pray that the truth would shine through much brighter than the allure of money and "stuff". Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 25, 2005

Turkey's Population Exceeds 72 Million

"Turkey's population has increased by 6.3 percent (4,297 millions) since the last census held in 2000 and has reached 72.65 million as of the end of June 2005. Turkey's population was 67,768 million in 2000."

Turkey continues to grow and get younger. Have you prayed for these people today?
JTW News - Turkey's Population Exceeds 72 Million

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Prosecutor: Biggest threat is abuse of religion

"Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Nuri Ok said on Friday the biggest threat facing the country right now was the abuse and exploitation of religion and its values, noting that religion is injected into politics, commerce and almost every other aspect of daily life."

"Speaking after receiving the Honesty and Anti-Corruption Award from the Social Transparency Movement Association, Ok said it was hard to ignore the expanding influence of fundamentalist movements.

He said no one can claim that everything possible is being done to combat corruption, adding that there is still much to do."
Turkish Daily News - Prosecutor: Biggest threat is abuse of religion

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Attacks on Christians Intensify in Turkey

"In what could be growing into a trend in Turkey, individuals belonging to vigilante groups in the last six months have threatened Protestants and have attacked their places of worship.

The media has also been increasingly critical of missionary activity, according to a recent report by Compass News. Also, some government ministers have accused missionaries of being politically motivated to "damaging the social peace and unity" of the nation."

"In April a firebomb caused $10,000 in damage to the International Protestant Church in the capital of Ankara.

After the attack, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a warning noting an "up tick in threats and vandalism ... occurring during a period of increased focus by the Turkish media and government on "missionary activity in Turkey."

None of the cases ended with death, but a near miss was cited when three young men bound an American named Wilbur Miller and his family, threatening to kill them, before the family was spared and told to leave the country immediately. It was not clear if investigations by local police and the U.S. Embassy resulted charges or conctions, the report states."

"In Turkey, the Protestant community is tiny, estimated to be about 3,500 Christians, in 55 locations of worship and 40 known house fellowships, according to Compass. Non Muslims in Turkey represent just 0.2 percent of a total population of about 70 million. Other Christian groups include members of the Greek and Armenian churches."
Christian News - The Christian Post | Attacks on Christians Intensify in Turkey

SONS OF THE CONQUERORS: The Rise Of The Turkic World

"With the increasingly globalised international system heading towards what looks like the elimination of nation-states are we heading for a new world which resembles the primeval soup in which nations could not be told apart?

This is the question behind Hugh Pope's new book which is about the identity debate in almost a dozen countries where what he describes as "the Turkic people" form either a majority or a substantial minority. His answer is that globalisation, while effacing political and administrative frontiers among nations may paradoxically encourage a sense of cultural identification. And this, he further argues, is especially the case among the Turkic peoples."

"Pope estimates the number of Turkic-speakers at over 140 million, almost half of them in the Turkey itself."

"No one knows where the Turkic world maybe heading. Turkey is trying to become part of the European Union while the Tatars and the Bashkir appear content to remain part of the Russian federation. The Central Asian republics may be entering a period of political instability that might ultimately lead to their democratisation. One thing is certain: the Turkic nations are to move up the news agenda and Pope's book offers much insight into their little known world."
Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


"As police try to identify the attackers who carried out the deadly bomb attack in the Turkish coastal resort of Kusadasi that killed 5 people on Saturday, including three Europeans and two Turks, and injured 13, thousands of people gathered at the victims' funerals to condemn terrorist acts. “Terrorist activities target all religions and nationals. The sole aim of terror is to destroy humanity,” said Aydin's governor Mustafa Malay during the funeral of one of the Turkish victims, a 21-year-old woman called Deniz Tutum.

Thousands marched with Turkish flags during the funeral. Local people who watched the ceremony from the balconies threw flowers onto the coffin as the crowd passed by. Many shops also draped Turkish flags from their windows."

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Magic spells and charms among the Turks

Superstition and magical thinking run high among the Turks, despite their modern appearance and culture. This article looks at the origins of some of those beliefs:

"Shamanism was the prevalent religion among the Turkish tribes in Central Asia. A shaman, the word comes from the Tungus language in the Siberian area, was inspired and spoke God's words to man as a medium. The shaman was the mouthpiece of spirit beings and might actually have been the most unstable person in his community. They offered the healing of the spirits and most likely were such a strong influence on their people that they could actually govern their activities and mores. The Turks were for the most part shamanists until conversion to Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism -- quite late in the time scale of things."

"Turks don't read tea leaves to foretell the future the way it's done in other countries. Most likely they don't because they strain the tea leaves through a sieve so there's none left in the traditional teacup. Instead they prefer to use the thick grounds left in the bottom of their coffee cups. Finish the liquid, swirl it around a couple of times, put the saucer on top, hold on tight and turn it over in the direction of your heart. Then put it down to cool. An amazing number of people will reject the notion that you can see your future that way but still they'll listen attentively if anyone around does appear to be authoritative."

"Charms and the making of charms continue as well. It could be something written on a small piece of paper that a sick person dissolves in water and drinks down. They were reportedly quite efficacious for healing and most likely they often worked because everybody believed they would. Or the person got better in spite of all efforts."

"Then there's the evil eye bead to ward off evil. Starting with that small gift for a newly born baby and going on to that required evil eye bead that has to be hung up when you move to a new home, it's easy to see that this custom lingers on even though we're in the 21st century now.

Spells were also popular and not just for attracting a man. They were also used to get rid of people, or bring people who were far away back, to shut someone up or to be saved from a spell that someone else had woven against you."
Turkish Daily News - Magic spells and charms among the Turks

Turkish Businessmen: Anti-Muslim Discrimination not Eminent

Discrimination goes both ways. Since September 11th, many muslims have worried about discrimination as they work in the West. Here in Turkey, the strongest discrimination is faced by Turks who have given their lives to Christ. Many of them loose their jobs, their families, and their positions in society as they choose to identify with Christ.

". . . these events have sown the seed of conflict between the two groups and added: "As there are people who commit crimes in the name of Muslims, there will also be others who will commit crimes in the name of Christians, but this will not be praised or supported."

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Turkish Islam and Turkey's EU Membership

Some historical observations of the differences between Turkey and the rest of the Islamic World.

"While Turkey accelerated religious and political reforms with the founding of the republic in 1923, the rest of the Islamic world failed to follow suit."

"Another aspect of Turkish Islam is its worldliness. Even at times when religion demonstrated its effect on government most intensely, religious references were not the only factor determining daily life and politics."

"- Turkish Islam did not evolve in a conflict environment.

- Self-confidence towards the West is a striking characteristic of Turkish Islam.

- Turkish Islam is more critical. It is remarkably apt in seeing its own deficiencies at the root of its problems.

- Turkish Islam is more liberal in interpreting religious dictum.

- Turkish Islam has an embracing attitude towards other branches of Islam.

- Turkish Islam ruled over other religious groups in accordance with Islamic principles quite vividly and intensely until recently.

- Turkish Moslems do not equate Christianity with the West and Judaism with Israel. They have learned through experience that religion has a larger meaning than political factions. Since a significant proportion of the population was Christians and Jews during Ottoman times, these religions are not alien to Turkey.

- Turkish Islam does not interpret worldly affairs solely through religious dogma. The Turkish tradition is noted for its pragmatic and practical approach.

- Turkish Islam was the first mainstream Islamic interpretation to contact modernity.

- Turkish Islam was the first mainstream Islamic interpretation to witness the conflict between modern political thinking and religion.

- Turkish political life is demarcated from religion. While clerics do not intervene in politics, the latter views religion as a realm mostly to be respected and to be protected.

- Turkish Islam is not the result of a project. It is not artificial or fabricated by certain individuals or groups. It has evolved over a long duration and as a result of certain geographic and historic developments."
JTW Comment - Turkish Islam and Turkey's EU Membership

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Those Resorting to Terror Betray Religion

Some interesting views on the western church from the Turkish religious affairs directorate:

"Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate President Professor Ali Bardakoglu said, those resorting to terror betray their own religions emphasizing that terror attacks form a ground for an anti-Islamic campaign."

"An anti-Islamic campaign began in the West after September 11 and terrorist attacks might increase the "Islamophobia," (fear of Islam). Stating that the Western press evaluates Islam in a wrong way, Bardakoglu said: "The West perceives Islam as a threat. Christianity is seen as an umbrella and Islam is seen as tearing this umbrella and spoiling unity. Christianity does not satisfy theologically and Christian religious leaders cannot satisfy youth in search of a religion. This has fostered an interest in Islam. Terror acts have incited Islamophobia in the West."

Observing that with affirmative actions, young Westerners, unsatisfied with Christianity, have been drawn Islam and acts of terror escalate Islamophobia Bardakoglu said, "Terror cases are an important base to harm Islam's image. To the people who appreciate Muslims and Islam, they say sarcastically, 'This is the Islam that you like'. Those who associate violence with religion hinder Islam's spread," Bardakoglu indicated, adding that from among 100 people the negative actions of a single person will damage all the positive ones of the 99 others."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A busy street. You never know what you can find when you turn down a street in Istanbul. I'm always amazed at how many people are out on any given day, walking around, shopping, or just drinking tea. Pray that the HS will call out to people as they go through the motions of life and that they will find the truth. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 11, 2005

Islamic Nations Slaughter and Enslave Christians

"THERE IS NOT ONE CHRISTIAN NATION ON EARTH WHERE MUSLIMS ARE PERSECUTED. Yet in 83% of nations where the majority of the population are Muslims, there is systematic government persecution of Christians."

"This persecution includes imposing the death penalty for sharing the Christian faith with a Muslim; national laws prohibiting conversion from Islam to Christianity; destruction of churches; and murder or expulsion of Christian missionaries. Even in the few predominantly Muslim countries where the government does not openly participate in the persecution, it ignores and even encourages illegal persecution by Muslims against Christians."

"I spent hours going through the well-documented profiles of the forty-six countries listed in the report mentioned above. Of these, six did not have significant Muslim populations. Of the thirty-nine with a strong Muslim majority, only seven could be considered to be either neutral or tolerant toward their Christian minorities. If the United States were to treat its roughly two million Muslims with one-tenth of the violence and humiliation that these Islamic nations heap on their Christians, the worldwide outcry would be immediate, and justified. Why, then, does the "Community of Nations," including the United States, turn a deaf ear to the cries of the persecuted Christians in Muslim nations?"

"Turkey, our "military ally", is 99.8% Muslim. Recently, eight Americans were arrested in Turkey for the "crime" of giving away copies of the New Testament. In 1974 Turkey overran Cyprus - which is 80% Christian - and has ruled that small nation with an iron fist since then. The Turkish government expelled thousands of Orthodox Christians, then took a thousand-year-old monastery and turned it into a mosque! Imagine the international outcry if a mosque anywhere were to be stolen by a government and turned into a Christian church."
Islamic Nations Slaughter and Enslave Christians - Tom Barrett

Thursday, July 07, 2005


"The Orhangazi Criminal Court in northwestern Turkey has set July 8 as the date to assess new medical reports on the condition of Turkish Christian Yakup Cindilli, still recovering from severe injuries inflicted in October 2003 by ultra-nationalists accusing him of “missionary propaganda.” Trial against his attackers was postponed for 15 months so the court could determine the extent of Cindilli’s injuries. “After more than 40 days in a coma,” the pastor of the Bursa Protestant Church commented, “it’s a miracle that Yakup is alive today.” Cindilli’s family reportedly wants his court case to conclude at the July 8 hearing, without trying to obtain compensation from his attackers for his long-term disabilities. But that decision now remains with Cindilli, who has recovered sufficiently to speak for himself. Despite pressures from his religiously conservative Muslim family to renounce his faith, “Yakup is very committed to stay faithful to Jesus, in spite of what happened,” a member of the Bursa church noted."
Compass Direct

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Religious Freedom Remains Elusive on Many Fronts

"In Turkey, respect for religious minorities "remains totally unsatisfactory," the report stated. Christians are effectively denied access to civil and military institutional jobs, and it is practically impossible to build churches. Moreover, non-Islamic churches have no civil recognition and are thus not permitted to own anything.

On June 21, 2004, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyp Erdogan, received the country's Catholic bishops, who presented two requests: juridical recognition for the church, and the creation of a mixed committee to prepare and implement this future juridical status."
Zenit News Agency - The World Seen From Rome

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Turkey and its Christians; Persecution complex

"On the edge of a village near Midyat is a stone
building whose fate may test Turkey's commitment to the European Union.
Thirty Kurdish families in Bardakci use it as a mosque. But members
of Turkey's Syrian Orthodox Christian minority (or Syriacs) insist it
is St Mary's church, which served their community for 200 years until
civil strife and economic hardship forced them out. They want it back.

Some 3,000 Syriacs in the south-east say their land and houses have
been seized, not just by Kurds, but also by the state. In Kayseri,
an American couple were recently sent death threats by e-mail because
they are "Christian." A Protestant pastor in Izmit province received
a menacing letter and found a red swastika painted on his door. In
Tarsus, a New Zealand missionary was beaten up and then told to leave
by the mayor.

"Protestants are the most persecuted group in Turkey," says Ihsan
Ozbek, pastor of the Kurtulus Protestant church in Ankara. That may be
exaggerated, but respecting the religious freedom of non-Muslims will
be critical to Turkey's hopes of joining the EU. For a while Turkey
did well. Laws against Christians repairing churches were scrapped,
enabling the Syriacs to restore the ancient Mar Gabriel monastery
near Bardakci. Another law was passed to let non-Muslim religious
foundations buy land. Timoteus Samuel Aktas, the metropolitan of
Mar Gabriel, proudly shows off a new recreation centre for monks at
his monastery. Yet recent attacks against Syriacs, including the
detonation of a landmine under a car, have rung alarms - and made
fellow Syriacs in Europe reconsider plans to return."

"One shot was fired by the state institution that micro-manages
religious life in Turkey, when it issued a sermon on March 11th to
be preached at some 75,000 officially registered mosques. The sermon
talked of the dangers posed to national unity by missionaries, who
"work as a part of a plan to cut the ties of our citizens with the
[Islamic] faith." This was followed by a statement by Mehmet Aydin,
the minister for religious affairs, calling missionary activities
"separatist and destructive." He was praised by nationalists, who fear
that Europe has plans to convert Turks to Christianity. It matters
little that only 300 souls have defected in the past eight years -
or that proselytizing is legally permitted."
ANN/Groong -- Turkey and its Christians; Persecution complex