Displaying items by tag: Turkey
The Sunni Zaza are nomadic shepherds and farmers who practise mysticism. Years of repression leaves them crying out to God for help. Their Sunni Muslim mystical faith is rooted in shamanism and Zoroastrianism – spirituality not easily broken. Yet God is overcoming spiritual obstacles and a few dozen believers have emerged among Zaza speakers. Zaza has almost no literary tradition except a specimen of a poem praising Muhammad. Recently two magazines written in Zaza have emerged. See This little but growing church worships in Turkish - as they wait for biblical resources in their own dialects. The spoken word is more natural to Zazas than the written word, pray for workers to know how to develop fruitful oral resources.
Opinion polls predicted a win for opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the election. However, President Erdogan received 49.5% of the votes, making it a serious test of his twenty-year iron rule. Turkey’s economy has soaring inflation, a plummeting lira, and a cost-of-living crisis partly caused by Erdogan’s wacky economic policies. Also the shambolic response to February’s earthquake which killed 50,000 and displaced 1.5 million added to Erdogan’s many corruption and mishandling scandals. Could mild-mannered technocrat Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who is capable of uniting opposition parties of left and right, be what Turkish voters want in the run-off on 28 May? He has pledged to rule Turkey ‘with consultations and compromise’. A million Turkish expats living in the USA, Germany and Canada voted in the first round of the election: Kilicdaroglu has vowed to win the second round.
Aftershocks are still shaking the eastern Mediterranean as far as Iraq, following on from the severe earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria which left over 50,000 dead and millions homeless. Amidst all the misery, death and destruction, we are hearing testimonies from people who were buried alive and rescued from the rubble after more than a week. They all experienced a bright figure in white who came towards them and gave them something to drink.
The death toll is tens of thousands. The devastation and trauma is palpable, after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Turkey. Over several years, many foreign Christians have been expelled from Turkey. Most of those remaining are local Turkish believers, 0.5% of the population. Amid the suffering, Turkish Christians are helping one another and embracing Muslim neighbours with aid. In areas where rescue teams were slow to arrive, believers rushed in from other parts of Turkey to help. Their presence is opening doors to offer Gospel comfort. We pray for the grieving. We pray for the spiritually lost. Lord Jesus, break down deep-seated prejudices against Christianity. Move through your remnant church.
Rescuers once again searched for people under rubble after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake and 5.8 aftershock struck near Antakya, where massive quakes had devastated communities two weeks earlier. Buildings weakened by previous tremors collapsed this time. The death toll is relatively low because the area was almost empty after being hit by previous quakes. 294 people were injured - 18 of them seriously. Pray for God to comfort survivors like Ali who was looking for the bodies of his family after the previous earthquakes when the latest tremors hit. He said, ‘We grabbed each other and right in front of us, the walls started to fall’. Pray for the 865,000 people living in tents, 23,500 in container homes, and the 376,000 in public guest houses and student dormitories. Meanwhile Turkey is widening investigations into building servicers violating safety standards. By 23 February 564 suspects were identified, 160 arrested, and many more were under investigation.
Turkey has issued 113 arrest warrants in connection with the construction of buildings that collapsed in recent earthquakes. Twelve people are in custody, with more arrests expected, but the action is seen by many as an attempt to divert overall blame for the disaster. For years, experts warned that many new buildings in Turkey were unsafe due to endemic corruption and government policies that allowed so-called amnesties for contractors who swerved building regulations, in order to encourage a construction boom - including in earthquake-prone regions. With elections looming Erdogan’s future is on the line after spending 20 years in power. He has admitted shortcomings but, during one visit to a disaster zone, he appeared to blame fate, saying, ‘Such things have always happened. It is part of destiny's plan’. Modern construction techniques should mean that buildings can withstand quakes of this magnitude, and regulations following previous Turkey disasters were supposed to ensure these protections were built in. See also
Scammers are using Turkey and Syria’s earthquakes to trick people into donating to fake causes. These scams claim to raise money for survivors, but instead they channel donations away from real charities into their own PayPal accounts. One of over a hundred recently created fundraisers for Turkey is TurkeyRelief, which joined Twitter and touts for donations. Its PayPal account has received US$900, but that includes $500 from the page’s creator, who donated to their own cause to make them appear authentic. On TikTok Live, content creators make money by receiving digital gifts. TikTok livestreams show photos with sound effects and ask for donations. One video shows a distressed child running from an explosion. Their plea for TikTok gifts is ‘Please help achieve this goal’. But the photo of the child is not from Turkey. The same image was on Twitter in 2018 with the caption ‘Stop African Genocide’.
At the time of writing there are 19,300 dead after earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria. Rescuers are running out of time to find people alive under the rubble. The death toll will far exceed 20,000, and without shelter, water, fuel or electricity many survivors could yet lose their lives in a secondary disaster causing more harm than the initial quake. Survivors could face danger inside fragile structures amid aftershocks or freeze outside in the snow. Numerous regions await help which it is impossible to provide on the scale needed. Syrian rebel-held areas have even less access to medical care and supplies. The first UN aid lorries have arrived. Pray for more medical equipment, warm clothes, blankets, field hospitals, hundreds more volunteers, medical professionals and search and rescue professionals. Ask God to strengthen those working tirelessly to help. Pray for urgent donations to purchase tents, beds, medical equipment and gas heaters. For an update see
11-year-old Abdel at a Turkey refugee camp spent most evenings reading a New Testament that local Christian workers gave him - to the grief of his Muslim parents. Recently his mother became angry at him and ordered him to do his schoolwork. Abdel told her it reminded him of the passage he had just read in Matthew 19:13-15 about children being kept from drawing close to the Prophet Jesus, as He is known among Muslims. Stunned, his mother asked him where he had read this. Abdel told her the passage was in the Gospel of Matthew. As scripture is given to refugees the missionaries sometimes find children learning the gospel and explaining it to their parents, or vice versa. His mother explained this event to his father and together they sat down and read the New Testament. The missionary said, ‘I am not saying that they accepted Christ immediately, but truly God is doing amazing miracles here.’
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, a major exporter of grain, led to the blocking of all grain shipments until an agreement called the Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed in Istanbul between Ukraine, Russia and the UN. This agreement will expire on 19 November unless renewed. Renewal negotiations were being facilitated by the UN throughout October until the 29th, when a drone attack on Russian naval ships prompted Russia to suspend participation. Talks resumed on 2 November, with hopes to extend the agreement for a year. On 17 November Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure said the initiative would be prolonged, but only for 120 days.