By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent ASSIST NEWS SERVICE
May 30, 2001
ISTANBUL, TURKEY (ANS) — Christian workers in Istanbul, Turkey, who distribute Bibles and New Testaments in the Turkish language, have had their offices raided by police and are currently under investigation by local authorities.
The raid comes on the heels of a newspaper article in the Yeni Safak newspaper, dated May 7, 2001, which was critical of their Bible distribution efforts.
“Last week the attached newspaper article came out. We have had an increase of complaints by people phoning in about our newspaper ad for Prayerphone and offering free Bibles/NTs,” said one of the workers, whose names have been withheld for security reasons.
“Two police detectives came on Wednesday, May 16 to our office. They want to bring an accusation against the Bible and New Testament distribution company, that we are using ‘illegal money’ to buy NTs and Bibles (two other printing companies are also being investigated),” he said.
“They came to investigate if we are doing any other type of illegal activity. I explained in my statement that everything is open, and that they can see all that is happening. They took photocopies of the company papers, tax license, and my visa. We are not sure what will happen next. They are continuing their investigation,” said the worker.
This is a summary of the newspaper article: “The Head Minister of Religious Affairs, Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz, says that missionary activities in Turkey have increased, and Turkish people must take precautionary measures… Today’s missionary activity is determined to go ahead and they are feverish in their work. In Turkey they are sending NT books even to peoples’ homes. We must take precautionary measures against this. Instead, our excellent religion must be taught to all people.”
The worker added:”Thank you for praying for us with our Turkish brothers, that we will be kept safe and not hindered during this time, for the spread of the Gospel in this land.”
In an update, received at the US offices of Turkish World Outreach in Grand Junction, Colorado, the Bible distributors thank western Christians “for standing with us in prayer during this difficult time.
“It has been nine days since the Police inquiry, and we thank the Lord that the Police have not returned yet. Still, the Canadian Embassy recommends that we have a lawyer on stand-by. The Post Office, where we get the mail from the NT ads, said that the Police had been there also, asking questions,” the worker said.
He added: “We are moving ahead and getting the Bibles/NTs out, and doing follow-up. Cem, who saw the ad in the newspaper, is very fearful. He came with us just two weeks ago to a local fellowship meeting, and has continued to attend both Sunday service and the mid-week prayer times. Please pray he will be a solid believer. Please continue to support us in prayer.”
Assist News Service. Used with Permission.