Suffering for Christ our Savior

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even unto death. Rev.12:11.

Three brothers were killed for their faith in Turkey, I heard. But at first I did not really know what happened. Well, I read online, and just got the email memo from the believers there, telling what happened and I could not stop weeping for the suffering they endured. I just cannot fathom this kind of suffering. These are our brothers in Christ, our family.

Young men were coming to the assembled believers posing as “seekers”, and were invited by the believers to an evangelistic bible study. Our three brothers met with them in an office, where they suffered horribly for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. From the newsletter:

None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.

The wife of one of the martyrs publically expressed forgiveness for the killing of her husband and the other men:

In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Tilman in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34).

In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.”

For the faithful Muslims, serving their god meant brutally killing these Christian men. For the faithful Christians, serving God meant risking their lives to bring the hope of the gospel of forgiveness and salvation and eternal life in Christ, to the Muslim people, and then forgiving them for torturing and killing their loved ones. From the newsletter:

Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverance,” urges (a pastor).

This we know. Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.

Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the unsubduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.

But we pray– and urge you to pray– that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.

MARTYR, Greek, martus, martur, martyr, lit., witness.
1. a person who dies rather than renounce a religion.

Bible Dictionary:
MARTYR, Greek, martus, martur, lit., witness.
Because of its use in connection with Stephen (Acts 22:20) and others
who died for Christ, the word came to mean one who paid the extreme price for
fidelity to Christ. Antipas was a faithful witness(Rev.2:13). The harlot, Babylon, was drunk with the blood of martyrs (Rev.17:6).

Let us pray for the church in Turkey, for their steadfastness, and for the Lord to continue to redeem from among the Muslims in Turkey(and all throughout the Muslim world), by His mercy and grace. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Turkish believers suffer and die for Christ.

Link to the letter from the church in Smyrna.

Brothers slain in Turkey for publishing bibles and advancing the gospel.

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