I felt like crying after I read the report on the martyrdom of three Christians in Malatya. Three hours of horrible torture as a consequence of having a Bible study for “seekers”! I join the world-wide church in praying for the church in Malatya, that the Lord will make good come out of evil, that the gospel of God’s grace and forgiveness will shine all the more in the midst of great darkness, and that Christians everywhere – beginning with me – will be awakened from their spiritual complacency so that we may take part, even at the cost of great suffering, in the great task of sowing love where there is hatred. On the cross the Lord Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Now Susanne Tilman, the wife of one of the martyred Christians, had the tremendous privilege in making her Savior’s words her own:
In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Tilman in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34).
In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.”
Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for the cause of Christ. Let us also pray for ourselves. We take so much for granted: we enjoy freedom of speech and religion, we live comfortable lives, we complain so much about our personal sorrows which are nothing compared to the sufferings of many of our brethren in the mission field. May God shake us in order to wake us up. May he make us more courageous in speaking the truth in love!
Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverence,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.
The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.
“Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”