Turkey: Attack on Baptist Church
S a m s u n – The Baptist church in the Turkish harbor city of Samsun on the Black Sea was the target of an attack. As was just revealed, on February 26, after midnight, four men chanting anti-Christian slogans tore down one of the church’s signs and threw stones through windows. A policeman who was guarding the church was beaten by the men and had to be hospitalized, said Orhan Picaklar, the pastor of the church, speaking with the EBPS. He suspects that the perpetrators come from Islamic circles. The attack was apparently in connection with the burning of the Koran by US soldiers in Afghanistan. He said that three of the four perpetrators had taken flight before other policemen could rush to the aid of their injured colleague. One man was arrested. Picaklar reported the offense. The police are now investigating. He said the small church had been the target of repeated attacks in recent months: “Many people in Samsun do not like us Christians or the church.” He said he hopes that the police will succeed in catching the offenders. A youth group from Romania which was spending the night in the church was scared to death by the attack. Although extensive material damages were not sustained, the pastor is thankful that the officials are protecting the Christian minority. A Muslim neighbor also tried without success to stop the offenders.
The church was founded in 2003 and has an attendance of about 50 worshipers. It is the only evangelical church in the Province of Samsun, which has 1.2 million inhabitants. Picaklar is a former Muslim who became a Christian through reading a copy of the Gospel of John. He himself regularly runs an information stand for the church at the market, where he hands out Bibles. Almost every day he finds takers. Recently a woman took eight copies of the Holy Scriptures. As the Muslim woman later reported to him, she took them to give to her neighbors. They had been very happy to receive the Holy Scriptures. The church is the associate member of European Baptist Federation (EBF). Ninety-nine percent of the 75 million inhabitants of Turkey are Muslim. About 4,000 former Muslims have converted to Christianity. Altogether, about 120,000 Christians live in Turkey.