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For years, Turkey has placed restrictions on religious leadership training. As a result, many pastors in the country have been foreign nationals. However, new visa restrictions are now being placed on foreign religious workers entering the country.

In early April, an American pastor (name withheld) had to travel to the United States for a family emergency. Despite working in Turkey for 20 years, authorities informed him that a travel ban had been issued and, if he left, there would be no opportunity for him to return. That ban was confirmed a week later when he attempted to re-enter the country. He was detained overnight and then put on a flight to Germany.

In February, a similar situation happened with an American couple returning to their home in Istanbul after travelling abroad. When consulting with their lawyer and government authorities, it was verified that an entry ban had indeed been issued.

Turkish authorities have not released the reason for these bans. However, the U.S. State Department has issued a warning about travel to Turkey because of unfounded allegations of affiliation with terrorist organizations. In October 2018, Pastor Andrew Brunson was finally released after two years in prison over allegations of espionage and terrorist connections. For more information, go to the Turkey Country Report.

Remember these church leaders who are no longer permitted to return to their homes, nor allowed to continue ministering in churches within Turkey, leaving these congregations without their appointed leadership. Pray for foreign Christian workers still in the country during these times of uncertainty. May the Turkish authorities respectfully consider the religious rights of all citizens, sanctioning the recently implemented restrictions to be lifted.

Current Ministry Projects

VOMC is working alongside partners to assist Christians who have been detained on trumped up charges with legal aid. VOMC also assists in providing Biblical and discipleship resources to equip Christians.

Project Funds: Legal Defense, Equipping the Saints

Country Information

Population
81,257,239 (July 2018 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Turkish (70-75), Kurdish (19), other minorities (7-12)

Religion (%)
Islam (99.8), other (0.2)

Leader
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Government type
Parliamentary republic

Legal system
Civil law system derived from various European continental legal systems

Sources: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Turkey

Prayerfully uphold those who have had their churches and places of worship taken over by a government that does not represent their beliefs, values or ordinances. Ask the Lord to oversee the mediation process as church officials and government representatives endeavour to work out a solution that is both honouring to Him and fair to all the members of the various churches. Despite the challenges experienced by the believers of this country, may they have a sense of God's reassuring presence and peace, knowing that one day He will reign supremely and justly over the entire earth.

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