With political tensions rising in the nation of Turkey, her Lutheran Church keeps trusting in Christ.
“Some foreign pastors have had problems with their visas, and one Protestant pastor has been jailed with unclear charges for months already,” shared Rev. Ville Typpö, pastor of Istanbul Lutheran Church.
“Since several terrorist attacks and the unsuccessful coup last summer, the political climate is very turbulent,” he continued. The Turkish people recently voted to put unprecedented power in the hands of their Muslim president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who now has the legal green light to to personally appoint or dismiss ministers, select judges and rule by decree if he deems it necessary.
Turkey is a strongly Muslim nation, with less than 0.2% of its76 million people identifying as Christian. Among those Christian believers is the tiny Istanbul Lutheran Church, which includes about 200 members across four congregations.
Despite fears of incarceration or worse, the church perseveres. Through the translation of various materials into the Turkish language, Lutheran church leaders are preparing a solid foundation for their people in the way of Christ.
“LHF has published several good Lutheran books in Turkish and in this way, LHF has helped the small Lutheran Church in Turkey to grow,” explained LHF’s local coordinator for projects in Turkey. “Although this country is full of early Christian history, almost all Christian roots have been cut during the past 100 years, so people need teaching and good books to learn about Jesus Christ and spread Christianity.”
In addition to the Small Catechism and Large Catechism, LHF has recently published Freedom of a Christian and Spirituality of the Cross in Turkish. These books have proven very useful for teaching in the Turkish Lutheran church.
“As people have grown up in a Muslim culture, they’ve learned to obey certain rules and learned to earn their salvation. Some of them may have [been raised in] a secular family, yet the idea of your own merits is everywhere in this country,” said Rev. Typpö. “For the most of these people, Christian faith and grace are something totally new and thus difficult to understand.”
That’s where LHF’s books come in. Freedom of a Christian helps the readers to understand what they can, can’t, and shouldn’t do within the confines of Christianity, while Spirituality of the Cross teaches how to live a Christian life by serving God and one another while living a typical life.
In April, LHF Executive Director Rev. Matthew Heise will be traveling to Turkey to meet with representatives of the Istanbul Lutheran Church to make future translation plans. “This is a great opportunity to hear their perspective on the Lutheran church in Turkey and how we might be able to help in the future,” said Rev. Heise. “LHF remains committed to providing good Lutheran literature that will sustain our Turkish brothers and sisters in Christ in the one true faith.”
Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.
by Anna Bagnall
LHF Staff Writer