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All articles in category Western Asia

June 2007
Turkey

Martyrs for Christ

Martyrs for Christ Three evangelical Christians have been murdered in Malatya, eastern Turkey, as they met for Bible study at the offices of a small Christian publishing company. The victims, a German missionary and two Turkish converts, were tortured before being killed. Ten Muslim religious students, all aged 19 or 20, have been arrested. The victims were Tilman Geske, husband and father of three from Germany; Necati Aydin, a local church pastor and father of two; and Ugur Yuksel, a young convert only recently engaged to be married. On Wednesday morning 18 April the men left their respective homes to gather at the premises of...

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Missionary Spotlight – Gospel seed in southeast Turkey
April 2007
Turkey

Missionary Spotlight – Gospel seed in southeast Turkey

We arrived in the early 1970s in Aintep (or Gaziantep) – Turkey’s eighth largest commercial city and a centre for the cotton industry. It was not long before we experienced its spiritual darkness. In Istanbul, the minority Christian population had substantially influenced the culture, so here it was a shock to see superstitious and occult practices mixed with Islam. Poverty was rife and many (both Kurds and Turks) struggled to survive, while a tiny minority, including our landlord, enjoyed great wealth. My husband David had secured a teaching post in the Super Lise School which this man had established for the elite. This enabled us...

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Missionary Spotlight – Gospel seed in southeast Turkey
April 2007
Turkey

Missionary Spotlight – Gospel seed in southeast Turkey

We arrived in the early 1970s in Aintep (or Gaziantep) – Turkey’s eighth largest commercial city and a centre for the cotton industry. It was not long before we experienced its spiritual darkness. In Istanbul, the minority Christian population had substantially influenced the culture, so here it was a shock to see superstitious and occult practices mixed with Islam. Poverty was rife and many (both Kurds and Turks) struggled to survive, while a tiny minority, including our landlord, enjoyed great wealth. My husband David had secured a teaching post in the Super Lise School which this man had established for the elite. This enabled us...

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September 2006
Lebanon

MERF and Lebanon

In 1971 Lebanon was a prosperous, democratic multicultural haven in the Arab world — a centre for business, education and tourism. But sadly, the 50,000 Lebanese Protestants identified in an early 1950s census had dwindled to barely 3000 regular churchgoers. Three young believers in Beirut, of various nationalities, met regularly for prayer, Bible study and the discussion of Reformed literature. They were united in a desire to ‘proclaim the whole counsel of God’ and to serve and guard ‘the church of God which he purchased with his own blood’. Together they established a growing fellowship. They began to sponsor lectures, seminars and other Christian activities...

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Evangelicals in Lebanon
September 2006
Lebanon

Evangelicals in Lebanon

There are an estimated 20,000 Protestants in Lebanon. These comprise Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Church of God, Nazarene, Brethren and Charismatics. The Presbyterian and Congregational churches are similar, and form 75% of the Protestant community. The Presbyterian Synod covers Lebanon and Syria (there are several thousand Presbyterians in Syria also). The evangelical missions that established Congregational and Presbyterian churches started work early in the nineteenth century. They founded the Syrian Protestant College (now the American University of Beirut) and the Beirut College for Women (now the Lebanese American University). Both today are secular institutions. Sadly, most of these churches no longer preach salvation. They are heavily...

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The struggle for Lebanon
September 2006
Lebanon

The struggle for Lebanon

This month’s missionary spotlight demonstrates that in the past Lebanon has played a unique role in Christian mission in the Middle East – surely a point not lost on Satan either. In this article we chart the conflicts that have raged over the last 60 years as Islamic forces have struggled to take control of Lebanon. Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943. Five years later the first Arab-Israeli war broke out and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes, 150,000 of them finding refuge in Lebanon. Embittered and predominantly Muslim, they threatened the fragile balance of the country. In 1958 a short civil...

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Hezbollah
September 2006
Lebanon

Hezbollah

Hezbollah (Hizbullah, Arabic for ‘party of God’) is an Islamic political party and militia group ­functioning within Lebanon. It was founded during the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990. In June 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon and sided with one of the country’s ‘Christian’ factions against the many other, mostly Muslim, factions. Other powers, including Syria and several Western countries, also played various roles in the civil war. Largely in response to Israel’s invasion, a group of Shiite Muslim clerics led by Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah established Hezbollah to promote Islam and to resist Western influences in Lebanon. Iranian influence The clerics’ politics and theology were inspired by...

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September 2006
Lebanon

Lebanon profile

Lebanon is located north of Israel at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea and shares a border with Syria. It is a beautiful land of plains and mountains, with about 3.8 million inhabitants, nearly all Arab. Lebanon was once wealthy — an economic centre of the Middle East — but decades of war have destroyed its economy. Some rebuilding has taken place in recent years, but today Lebanon is a shadow of its former self. When Lebanon gained independence during World War II, power was apportioned among the various religious groups based on size. At that time, professing Christians were the largest group. Then...

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MISSIONARY SPOTLIGHT – King Jesus and Iran
May 2006
Iran

MISSIONARY SPOTLIGHT – King Jesus and Iran

  In 1978, after forty years of exile, Ayatollah-Ruhollah Khomeini made his triumphal re-entry into Tehran, the capital of Iran. Hundreds of thousands of excited Iranians took to the streets to welcome him and celebrate the beginning of the new Islamic regime.   He had the blessing of Western nations hoping to keep Iran from joining the communist bloc. Shortly before that, the much-hated pro-Western monarch, Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, had departed — a defeated man dying of cancer.   Murderous   Khomeini didn’t waste time. Immediately he declared the ‘Islamic Revolution’, which ‘beginning with this great country Iran will advance to the entire Islamic...

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MISSIONARY SPOTLIGHT
May 2006
Iraq

MISSIONARY SPOTLIGHT

Christianity in Iraq Many Mesopotamian Jews turned to Christ when the gospel was first preached, and their synagogues became Christian meeting places. But these soon succumbed to Nestorianism (a heresy teaching that the incarnate Christ was two separate persons – human and divine). Along with internal power struggles among the clergy, this weakened the churches and made them easy prey to invading Muslim armies (seventh century AD). Christians took refuge in the mountainous north and survived only because Sunni and Shia Muslims became distracted by internecine conflicts. By the early twentieth century, professing ‘Christians’ (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) made up 30% of the Iraqi...

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The Cyprus connection (1)
May 2006
Cyprus

The Cyprus connection (1)

Cyprus is an ideal location for a late season holiday, and the temperatures were still in the mid-twenties at the end of November when we visited Paphos last year. There is a relaxing feel to this area, and a crime rate only 6% of that in Britain. There are only about 750,000 inhabitants in the whole island which measures 148 by 40 miles. The biblical links to Cyprus are fascinating. Although Cyprus is not mentioned by this name in the Old Testament, we can trace the origins of the earliest settlers to two of the great-grandsons of Noah — Elishah and Kittim (Genesis 10:4).  ...

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Missionary Spotlight – A storm in Turkey
November 2005
Turkey

Missionary Spotlight – A storm in Turkey

Beside one of the beautiful Bosphorus bays in Istanbul lies the Bebek Park, where one can sit and watch large ships passing to and from the Black Sea. In the spring, steep wooded hills are ablaze with the red blossom of ‘Judas’ trees — which symbolise to Armenians the blood of the traitor Judas. In 1967, only a few months after we arrived in Turkey as missionaries, we befriended a poor family who lived in a small shed in this park. Each evening I visited them and was welcomed into their hovel, lit by an oil lamp. After tea served in tiny tea glasses and...

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