Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Pastor’s Name on ISIS Hit List – April 17th

Voice of the Martyrs, 11th April 2024

On Sunday, January 28, two masked gunmen entered a Catholic church in Istanbul during a service and randomly shot and killed a 52-year-old man. The self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility.

Turkish police quickly arrested two suspects with ties to ISIS and later arrested 25 more after raiding numerous locations. Afterwards, police contacted a pastor of a rapidly growing church in another part of Turkey and told him that his name was on an ISIS hit list.

“This pastor has been threatened by ultra-nationalist Turks many times, but this was the first time that he sounded worried,” said a front-line worker.

Turkish police offered to protect the pastor and encouraged him to set up security cameras. “We can’t pray for the elimination of persecution,” said the front-worker, “but we can pray that believers will be strengthened and recognize these things are happening because of the growth of the church.”

Unfortunately, Islam is considered by most Turks to be part of their national identity; it is hard for them to imagine leaving Islam even if they know little about its teachings and do not practice its tenets.

Believers face a range of challenges from family members, neighbours, employers and the government. It is not uncommon for the government to assign police officers to a pastor or church for “protection” from threats by Islamic leaders. This is a way to monitor the activities of pastors and churches.