I mentioned the horrific tragedy which took place in Eastern Turkey awhile back. Three Christian men were killed by young men (all under 20 years of age) who posed as seekers. During a Bible study these three men hosted for these young men, these “seekers” began attacking, stabbing, and torturing these men. The details are too gruesome to recount.
In Turkey, 99% of the population are Muslims. The Christian minority has been persecuted for years.
From a letter* circulating on via email to the Church from this church affected by this tragedy in Smyrna, the following details have emerged:
“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’s pray for those persecuted for their faith. Let’s pray those persecuting, including these young men, would become like Saul. After watching Stephen’s death, Saul later became Paul.
*For a copy of the email sent from the church in Smyrna, email me at email@example.com.
While I have to say that the Luke 23 quotation was applied out of context as the men clearly knew what they were doing, killing followers of Christ. I agree we should forgive them, if not even thank them for multiplying the witness of these followers of Christ in a way that they could not do by living.
Far too many Christians have an unbiblical understanding of the Gospel and this often causes them to respond to such stories with violence and hatred, when Scripture pictures martyrdom and persecution as more of the norm than the exception. Christ does not promise men health wealth and prosperity, He calls them to deny themselves and follow Him, which often leads to suffering and death.