Tensions are high for Christians in Turkey as the IN Network director continues to be under guard and surveillance following death threats.
An assassination plot by the ultra-nationalist group Ergenekon to kill
the IN Network Turkey director, as reported earlier in March. Since
then, the government has stepped up measures to protect him.
Rody Rodeheaver with IN Network says: “Our staff person continues to
have a bodyguard that goes with him everywhere. And there are other
types of surveillance that the police are using to protect both him and
Ergenekon is a group whose sole purpose is to prevent the government
from entering into the European Union. The Turkish government applied
for entrance in 1987 and became a candidate country in 1999. This
terrorist group wants to prevent this process from going any further.
Rodeheaver says the group hatched the assassination plot “in
order to embarrass the Turkish government and impede their entry into
the European Union.”
While the government historically has been slow to bring justice, this case seems to have prompted more action on their part.
According to Rodeheaver: “This terrorist organization has been
spotlighted by the government, and various members of that group have
been arrested. Those members are in various levels of society, all the
way from retired army generals to professors in universities to just the
average person on the street.”
With all the tension and persecution Christians receive in Turkey, this
latest incident has members of IN Network a little on edge. The
emotional toll on team members will not stop their ministry, but it does
have an effect.
“You always have to ask the question, ‘What will happen if …?'” says
Rodeheaver. “And being a Christian, I think that puts an extra edge on
ministry and everything you do. They will continue to do their ministry,
but the emotional impact of this can’t be denied.”
It makes for a confusing situation, since the government says they are
committed to religious diversity. But the overarching mindset of society
is this: if you are a Turk, then you are a Muslim. Rodeheaver states
that Turks who go on to say they are Christians are often treated with
suspicion and are seen as a threat. Unfortunately, often that suspicion
turns into persecution.
Please pray that the threats on the director’s life would leave. Pray
for justice in the government as they handle cases of persecution in the
IN Network’s mission to proclaim the name of Christ to the people of
Turkey will not stop. If anything, the church grows and flourishes in
times of trial and fire. And when the Gospel is being shared, not even
threats or persecution or death itself can stop faithful followers of