Turkey: Name of Baptist Pastor Found on Death List

Turkey: Name of Baptist Pastor Found on Death List

Klaus Rösler - November 29, 2007

I z m i r – The name of the pastor of Izmir’s Baptist church, Ertan Mesut Cevik, is located on a death list. The list was discovered when three suspected terrorists were recently arrested in the Turkish port city of Izmir. Police assume the three were planning attacks as numerous weapons were found on them. Police protection for Cevik was immediately reinforced – he has been guarded by police since the murder of three Christians in the eastern city of Malatya in April. He nevertheless feels himself more endangered now than ever, for Turkish media mentioned his name when reporting the arrests. Cevik, a pastor ordained by Germany’s largely-Baptist “Federation of Evangelical-Free Churches”, is concerned that imitators might feel themselves called to take over the task. He has requested prayer for his congregation and family. The Christians of Turkey now live in constant fear, which has resulted in lower church attendance. The congregation was formed in 2001 and meets in a renovated, formerly Anglican chapel. The congregation is an associate member of the European Baptist Federation (EBF). Cevik has been living in Turkey since 1989.

Court proceedings against the five likely murderers of the three Christians, which have only now begun in Malatya, have brought the plight of Christians in Turkey back into the public eye. The three were murdered in the “Zirve” publishing house last April. According to observers, media reporting has left the impression that the victims, rather than the offenders, are in the dock. In the English-language “Turkish Daily News”, Orhan Kemal Cengiz, one of the barristers (lawyers) for the surviving family members, sharply criticised the approach taken by the public prosecutor’s office. Only 15 of the 31 binders opened for the case contained information on the murders. The remaining 16 binders held information on the victims’ supposed missionary activities. Cengiz expressed his shock. He said that if he did not know better, he would have concluded that the binders described the struggle between two criminal bands – not the murder of innocent victims. The barrister is worried that the documents could lead to additional murders, for they contain much information on other Christians in Turkey.

EBF-General-Secretary Tony Peck (Prague) and Regina Claas, General-Secretary of Germany’s “Federation of Evangelical-Free Churches”, have also appealed for prayer for the Christians of Turkey and Izmir in particular. According to Peck, requesting God’s protection for Ertan Cevik is especially important.