Tuesday, July 30, 2013

After 12 years, Turkey closes the door on American church volunteer

 After 12 years serving a church in Turkey voluntarily and peacefully, Jerry Mattix suddenly is on the country's blacklist.

Officially, the government has deemed Mattix a threat to national security. Yet the police have told him he is "welcome" to apply for a visa.

Such is the perplexing state of affairs in Turkey's southeast province of Diyarbakir, where Mattix and several other once-welcome Christian foreigners have become personae non gratae.

In April and June, Turkey denied Mattix, a U.S. citizen, a religious-worker visa. When he and his family tried June 7 to re-enter the country, they were turned away.

He and his family had lived in Diyarbakir for over a decade, helping the local church. Mattix also has authored several books, in Turkish, explaining Christianity.

"What exactly they cite as my crime that is so threatening to national security I do not know," Mattix told World Watch Monitor from the United Kingdom, "but I can only guess that it has to do with the fact that I have been serving the local Turkish churches all these years."