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Reach the last: Türkiye

Türkiye is closely linked to the historical narrative of Christianity, yet today less than one percent of Turks identify as Christian.

RADIO, MEDIA & MISSIONS AUTOR 350/Jade_Alger 01 DE ABRIL DE 2024 16:20 h
A grandmother and her grandchildren stand in a field in Lystra, Türkiye / Photo:

Spanning Europe and Asia, Türkiye (formerly known as Turkey) has long been a crossroads of civilization. As such, the Turkish way of life is marked by a unique blend of cultural influences.

Türkiye is closely linked to the historical narrative of Christianity. Most of the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys were concentrated in present-day Türkiye and the ruins of the seven churches of Revelation dot its dramatic landscapes.

Yet today less than one percent of Turks identify as Christian, according to Joshua Project.

The vast majority are nominally Sunni Muslim, and Islam is deeply intertwined with Turkish nationalism. Christians often lack having the same societal privileges as their Muslim neighbors. And though freedom of religion is protected, many Christians face obstacles to openly practicing their faith.

It is especially hard for Turkish women who convert from Islam to Christianity, says Open Doors, an organization dedicated to helping persecuted Christians worldwide. Discriminatory practices and abuses against women are prevalent in this context.

Unfortunately, harassment and violence against Turkish women extends beyond religious conversion, with hundreds of murders occurring each year.

This disturbing reality mirrors the story of a TWR Women of Hope listener who shared:

“My brother abused me for years and later went to prison for it. Then he was murdered in prison. I couldn’t get over this trauma and didn’t have money for a psychologist… One day when I was working, the radio was on, and I heard your program. I never knew a radio program could touch someone like this. I didn’t have the chance to go to a doctor, but Jesus did a lot in my heart. He gave me a rest and a peace.”

Through Christ-centered media, thousands of Turkish people like this woman have been transformed by the message of Jesus.

TWR (Trans World Radio) broadcasts hope in the Turkish language through programs like Women of Hope, Men of Courage, The Way of Righteousness, Thru the Bible, In Touch, and A Different World.

Each program is created with a specific demographic and goal in mind. For example, The Way of Righteousness, designed for a Muslim-background audience, examines the biblical prophets and guides listeners to a knowledge that Jesus is not merely a prophet, but the Son of God.


Media resilience

TWR has a solid presence in Türkiye and can adapt media content in response to prevailing circumstances.

When twin earthquakes shook the nation on February 6, 2023, the official death toll surpassed 44,000. In times of natural disasters such as this, more programs dealing with trauma and emotional healing are aired.

In Türkiye, radio is a popular media format and the most effective media format for sharing the gospel. It easily reaches listeners in their own homes where they may be free from outside pressures to conform to Islamic traditions.

Poverty is also prevalent, with ongoing issues of unemployment making it difficult for people to afford expensive technology. Radios typically come at a more affordable price compared to most other media devices.

“Radio softens the heart of the listener,” a ministry friend of TWR said. “We need it to consistently dispel the lies people believe about Christianity and the church. Turkish culture is hard spiritual ground, and radio is a 24/7 outlet to pour out the love and hope of Jesus that the world desperately needs. Social media is effective at connecting with people, and we will use it to point them to the radio broadcasts.”

However, radio is just one of many media formats TWR uses to share Christ with Turkish people. TWR360, a versatile app and online platform with biblical content in 140+ languages, is widely popular among Turkish audiences.

In June 2021, David Creech, TWR's Global Digital Marketing and Operations Manager, highlighted Türkiye in a blog post as one of the top 10 countries with the highest engagement on TWR360.

Additionally, video has been an effective media format for Men of Courage episodes in the Turkish language, especially for the talk-show style segments. Topic experts are invited to appear on the show, and questions are posed to the audience during these discussions.

One of the program’s listeners wrote, “There are no other men’s programs like Men of Courage available… The men in our [Bible study] group are very happy about this program, and they await every new episode. If they miss a program, they go and listen to the podcast.”

[photo_footer]Media plays an important role in sharing Christ with Turkish people, but evangelistic efforts must be bathed in prayer. / Photo: [/photo_footer] 


A spiritual battle

It can be a long process for a Muslim-background Turk to become a Christian. TWR’s Muslim ministry coordinator for Europe wrote:

“It is very important to form relationships with [Turkish] people for them to feel safe enough to open up. The process of a Turk becoming Christian can often be a lengthy one, and unfortunately, many will give up after some years due to the pressure they risk being put under, especially from family and friends. That said, I still believe many can be reached indirectly through media, for instance, to at least spark curiosity. Then, relationships can be formed through follow-up, initially often on social media, and eventually, some are ready to meet in person.”

Spiritual seeds are being planted. Yet Jesus reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that we face a spiritual battle against forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

It’s vitally important that we pray against the spiritual strongholds that keep Turks from hearing and responding to the message of Jesus.

Jade Alger, writer and communication specialist for TWR Europe and CAMENA.




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