Population: 74.5 million (2012)
Official language: Turkish
Major religion: Islam
Although known as Asia Minor in the Bible and home to many ancient Biblical sites, Turkey is roughly 96% Muslim. Being a Christian in Turkey is challenging, and new believers are viewed as traitors to their families and to their country. Many say, to be Turk is to be Muslim. In 1960 there were only 10 known evangelical Christians, but today there are around 4,000.
IFES in Turkey
- 174 tertiary institutions with pioneering efforts in Izmir and Antalya
- 7 full-time staff and 2 part-time staff
- largest group in Antalya with just under 5 students
The group has managed to hire and retain national staff, and working side-by-side with Turkish believers who have a heart for students has been a great victory. Vibrant short-term projects also take place every summer. Having long-term staff ensures that follow-up is possible after these camps. The main challenge in Turkey is that students and Turks in general are suspicious of Christianity. Coupled with strong nationalism and Islam, it is quite difficult for students to share the gospel.
View from the inside
A friend in Turkey was given opportunities to grow as a young believer in her university due to IFES’ presence, and wants to give this same opportunity to others. She says, ‘I’m most excited about the stability and infrastructure that we’ve built over the last few years to ensure IFES’ longevity. The work in Turkey will probably take decades, and I feel committed to staff development.’
Isaiah 49:6 has greatly inspired her ministry and vision: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
- for protection and support for the Turkish national staff;
- for new workers to join the pioneering effort;
- for student’s hearts to be soft and hungry for the gospel rather than trapped in fear.