Thursday, February 09, 2006

The call to follow Christ is a difficult one; there are many trials that we go through, here is someone's story and the price in which he had to pay for being a Christian.

VOM received a report coming out of Turkey giving a first-hand account of persecution coming from the hands of five men claming association with Al Qaeda. Twenty-nine-year-old Kamil Kiroglu, one of the leaders of Adana Protestant Church in Turkey, wrote this personal testimony after he was beaten unconscious outside his church by Muslim terrorists:

Dear friends and brethren,

My intention is to inform you all about what exactly happened to me and my church on Sunday, January 8, 2006.

As some of you are already aware, my church does not meet for Sunday service in the morning, but instead at 2:00 p.m. Therefore, we open the church and welcome people from 12:00 p.m. onwards. That Sunday (January 8, 2006), at about 1:15 p.m., five young men came in and introduced themselves, and added that they were newly converted Christians. They were expressing their desire to learn more about Jesus Christ and Christianity, and requesting from us (church leaders) private teaching and conversation time after the service?after everyone left the church. They were asking us very insistently?again and again?for such a private lonely conversation time after everyone was gone. Although this request of these five young men was a little bit strange and abnormal, none of us could imagine what their actual evil plan was.

They were five young men; one of them was from 24 to 27 years old and was claiming to be from Turkmenistan. His appearance and manners resembled that of a Russian. Also, he was speaking both Russian and Turkish fluently. The other four men were around 18 to 20 years old, and they were claiming to be from the cities of Gaziantep and Mersin. The younger men were apparently recognizing the oldest man as their leader. These five men attended our Sunday service. They were present with us in our church building from 1:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Although they behaved a little bit strangely, they showed a great deal of interest in the Bible and our faith.

After the Sunday service was over, everyone left the church building. As one of the leaders of the church, I was the last one in the building to turn the lights off and shut the door. But these five strange men were still there in the building, insisting on me to tell them more about our faith and God. However, I had an appointment to meet; therefore, I could not sit and spend more time with them. I politely told them that I had to go and proceeded to turn the lights off, while at the same time asking them to leave the building.

At the moment I realized that these five young men were whispering amongst themselves and trying to remain in the building with me alone, I was terrified. I quickly went to the door to look outside for help, and thank God, there was one of my fellow brethren there. So I called him in to try to send these five men out. When they saw this other brethren of mine, they realized that I was not really alone anymore. Therefore, they were reluctantly going out and still asking me to tell them more about Jesus. By this time, I was sure that their real intention was not to learn about Jesus, but something else. That's why I politely told them to go.

Afterwards, they started to whisper amongst themselves about a package they left in the church building. When I heard that, I asked them to come back and take their package; but they refused and said, “It is a surprise gift from Al Qaeda, and soon you will discover what it is!” Then they quickly moved away. After I heard the things they said, I thought that they might have placed a bomb in the church building; therefore, I closed the church door and left the building.

I was trying to call the police, but these five young men returned suddenly and saw me making a phone call. As soon as they saw me making the phone call, they started to run towards me to prevent me from contacting the police. My other brother and I tried to run away, but they caught me and started to beat me. They asked me to deny Jesus and become a Muslim. Thanks to God, and by His grace, my response was, "Jesus is God," and they beat me even more. The more they beat me and asked me to deny Jesus, the more I shouted out, "Jesus is God." The more I shouted, the more they beat me?until I was unconscious.

After a while, I did not even remember what happened, and then I woke up and tried to run away, but they caught me again. They were continuously beating me while I was lying in blood. Suddenly, one of them put a big knife to my belly and asked me again to deny Jesus and become a Muslim. He said that if I do not deny Jesus and accept Islam as my religion, he was going to cut me into pieces. Only by the grace of God, I did not do what he said.

He was ready to slaughter me, and asked me again to deny Jesus. I thought that I was going to be killed at that very moment. I began to think that my journey on this earth was coming to an end. Again, I did not do what he said. At that moment, I felt a shockingly painful hit on my head and spine, and everything around me became dark. I started blacking out, and the next thing I remember was someone trying to wake me up.

When I woke up, they were gone. I could hardly stand up, and started to run for the closest police station. The police helped me a lot and they took me to a hospital and made sure that I was secure. I also told police about the package in the church building. They sent a team to our church building and looked everywhere. Thanks to God, there was not a bomb.

Now, more then a week has passed since this incident, and I am still recovering. They have beaten and tried to kill me just because I believe in Jesus. But my God is Almighty. God miraculously saved me from their hands. After this incident, God reminded me of Psalm 91.

Today I am praising God. I am praising God not because He saved me from death; but I am praising God because I have been beaten and almost killed for the sake of my Lord and God Jesus Christ. I am praising God because He helped me not to deny Him in the shadow of death.

I consider this as an honor. I feel like God has honored me through this attack of Satan. For sure, I know that I do not deserve such an honor; therefore I consider this as grace from my Heavenly Father. I am honored because the prophets of my Father, who were before me, were persecuted in the same way.

Please keep praying for all the believers and the churches in Turkey. Pray that the children of our God will be brave, wise and remain faithful. May our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ bless your life and ministry even more abundantly.

Your brother in Christ,

Kamil Kiroglu

Adana, Turkey