CWN - While the trial of five men accused of killing three Christians in Turkey has yet to resume, persecution continues for Christians. It's happening almost every day, and children are the targets.
IN Network's Turkey Country Director Behnan Konutgan says Christian children face problems every day. "Every student has to attend Islamic classes, even our children. And when they are in the class, they speak lies about the Christians and the Christian faith."
Konutgan says these lies perpetuate antagonism toward Christian students, calling them the enemy or infidels. "Just last month one of my sons was playing football with his class against another class, and a student from another class said, 'I don't want to play with this evil infidel man.'"
Konutgan says this type of persecution is having an effect. "For my children, it causes them to grow in faith and to want to leave the country."
IN Network USA's Rody Rodeheaver says there have been thousands of Turkish believers who have left and are now living in the United States and Europe. "And so we're praying that God will raise up a group of believers and their children who will stay and who will serve and will share the Gospel in a place that we see is very strategic to the whole Islamic world."
While it's illegal for adults to proselytize anyone under 18, young people can. IN Network's Rody Rodeheaver says, "If you have your buddies from school and they're Muslim, it gives you the opportunity of sharing the Gospel. So the children of Turkish believers really have more freedom in sharing the Gospel."
Rodeheaver says, "Believers around the world need to pray for the children of Christians in Turkey because they are the hope for Turkey of tomorrow. If they leave, it'll be gone."
But the challenge is how to help these Christian kids. That's why IN Network is organizing camps that will help disciple these kids and encourage them in their faith. It costs about $15,000 a year to help run the Christian youth ministry in Turkey.