Reaching and supporting Christians in Türkiye
Christians in Türkiye experience pressure just for being Christians. For centuries the country has served as the bridge between Europe and Asia and been a home or stopover for many people speaking different languages and from different ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds. But although Christianity was once its primary religion, Christians are now a small minority vulnerable to discrimination by the majority.
The community and the family are the primary sources of anti-Christian pressure. Communal hostility may be felt a little less in metropolitan areas but more, for example, in rural Anatolia. Christian children in particular are often told how they should think and behave: they are part of a minority group where they live and as such should be quiet. Fear of communal backlash or a desire to remain out of the spotlight leads parents to warn their children against speaking out or drawing attention to their Christian faith.
“When I was younger, I heard this a lot. I used to be told that just because I live here doesn’t mean that I can speak loudly and freely about what I believe and expect to be heard, accepted, and respected. Now the situation has begun to change. We don’t hear this nowadays, but [as Christians] we will always feel it,” says Cem Ercin, pastor of Istanbul Immanuel Protestant Church and presenter of the SAT-7 TURK program Essence of the Gospel.
Over the years, location has also become an enemy for Türkiye’s Christians. Many of them live in very inaccessible places, such as a village in Hatay (a town in the south), a village by the Black Sea in the north, or Hakkari (a city in the east, surrounded by mountains). How can pastors or Bible teachers get to a remote village that is cut off by snow? SAT-7 TÜRK fills this huge void and enters the homes of Christians in remote areas to provide them with spiritual encouragement and support.
“We reach those villages and the people who live there via our programs on satellite television,” says Pastor Cem. “This is a great and incomparable blessing. This is how God’s Word will be heard. I would never have thought that such a television channel would be launched in Türkiye. Even though we are few in number, we are strong in spirit to support all those people who need us and to impact others. But SAT-7 TÜRK needs spiritual support to continue sharing the Gospel even in the most remote areas where Christians live. Please pray for us to be strong.”