The faith returns to Turkey
Two great articles from CT here and here on the return of the Christian faith to Turkey. I also will mention that I know a former Muslim who pastors a small church there and that some progress is indeed being made. Here are some quotes from both articles:
Few nations have as rich a Christian history as Turkey. This is where Paul founded some of the earliest churches, including the church at Ephesus. Seven churches in this region were addressed in the Book of Revelation. Those in the early monastic movement found the caves of Cappadocia a near-perfect place to live out lives of prayer. Constantinople, now the city of Istanbul, became the capital of the Roman Empire just as it was being Christianized, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has been the leader of worldwide Orthodoxy for centuries.
But Christianity came under Islamic rule in Turkey in 1453 and steadily declined for centuries; the last 100 years have been the worst. In 1900, the Christian population was 22 percent. Now most experts estimate that there are fewer than 200,000 Christians nationwide, comprising less than 0.3 percent of the population.
"When a Turkish Kurd becomes a Christian, it ruins his whole life," Mattix says. "The family cuts the Christian off, and he loses opportunities for marriage and jobs through the family network."
"As we create a larger church, we are creating a church family and this softens the blow," Mattix says. Pastor Kaan Koryurek of Besiktas Protestant Church in Istanbul says more resources are needed. "The church should be ready to help them, but we don't do it like we should. It is a big problem. We need to provide a home for people."
In 1999, the Izmit earthquake, which killed 17,000 and left 800,000 homeless, led Christian agencies to start new relief work, and they eventually began working alongside independent Christian fellowships. These fellowships, along with new growth in traditional Orthodox congregations, have created a 3 percent annual growth in the country's Christian population, about three times Turkey's overall population growth rate.
Thirty years later, the church started by new believers has achieved new maturity and public acceptance. The independent Turkish church now comprises almost 100 congregations and more than 100 house fellowships.
Turkish Christians of Muslim backgrounds have anchored the leadership of the church around their own new identity—and by portraying Jesus Christ as a Turk. This helps resolve a crucial conflict in Turkish minds, that only Muslims can be truly "Turkish."