Middle East School of Disciples
Several At the Crossroads leaders traveled in September to North Cyprus to participate in the Middle East School of Disciples (MESD). It was a special time with students from Jewish and Muslim backgrounds representing countries ranging from Israel to Iran.
The goal of the three-week long MESD is to provide a complete overview of the Bible. This Bible intensive is given in a community atmosphere of worship and prayer. Please join us in praying for these disciples who are facing tremendous challenges in today’s Middle East.
Turkish Protestants threatened
Colleagues in Turkey are receiving death threats. World Watch Monitor reported on September 4 that 15 Turkish Protestant congregations have received death threats via social media, email and mobile phone since late August.
WWM reports the threats follow the style and jargon typically used by ISIS and vow to kill, massacre and behead apostates who the messages accused of having “chosen the path that denies Allah” and “dragged others into believing as you do… As heretics you have increased your numbers with ignorant followers.”
“Threats are not anything new for the Protestant community who live in this country and want to raise their children here,” the Association of Protestant Christians in Turkey said in a press release on September 1. “But with the recent increase in systematic threats, from this country’s west to east and north to south, in different cities, we think that these messages, coming close together and resembling each other, are coming from the same source.”
Please pray that God will protect and fill the believers in Turkey with boldness so that they stand firm in their faith inheriting the promises of God for them: “So do not throw away your confidence it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:35-36).”
Kurdish Turkish ally jailed
The August At the Crossroads newsletter reported on the visit to Israel by a Turkish former mayor. We’ve received word that he’s been arrested. He has served numerous jail sentences for “nationalistic offenses” i.e., asserted his ethnic Kurdish identity in Turkey. He recently caused a stir in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, when he announced his intention of rebuilding the destroyed synagogue in his city. This Muslim man is interested in preserving and honoring all the cultures of Turkey. He has been behind the rebuilding of several churches in his city and region.
Turkish paper Radikal (link in Turkish) reported that the former mayor’s health is suffering. His daughter is quoted as saying that she knows “the situation in the country is very bad and its weighing on everyone but my father’s health situation is very bad. Last night (Sept 14) the lawyer said he stayed in the hospital and the doctors said his condition is getting worse. Please we are awaiting your help and support.”
Please pray for this man. He has been an ally to the Protestant churches in southeast Turkey. He has a vision to see a diverse Turkey that celebrates all it’s peoples in brotherhood and tolerance.
Fighting closes Turkey-Iraq crossing
Partners in northern Iraq visited us in the Holy Land in August. They have just returned to home in Iraq and report that life in the city changed radically in the few weeks they were gone. They write:
“As you have probably read in the news, there are thousands of people fleeing to seek refuge in Europe and in other countries. Some of our dear friends already left and many others in different cities are on the run, ready to leave the region. Though it’s true that they are seeking a better future, many feel so oppressed and hopeless here (no salaries for many months, life getting more and more expensive, no evidence that this is going to change any time soon), that they just want to get out of here.
“Our border with Turkey is now closed. It was open when we came, and there was fighting at the border, which – praise the Lord – we didn’t experience when we came. Once we re-entered, they closed the border a few days later and the fight continued.
“Several days ago, Turkish troops entered our region to track down those they feel are responsible for the clashes in southeast Turkey. On the other side, ISIS keeps pushing to enter our region, and in the east, Iran is not a friend.
After President Masoud Barzani’s term ended weeks ago, there is no agreement as to who is going to be their next president. The soldiers who are defending our borders are not being taken care of in regards to food, salaries, shelter, protection against chemical weapons, etc. All of that makes us wonder how long can they keep defending their territory.”
Please pray for continued protection of Kurdistan, which has been a refuge for so many fleeing Christians. Pray for our partners in the area, that the LORD may give them wisdom and strength as they continue to minister to the refugees.