A. THE COUNTRY
The Republic of Turkey is a Eurasian country, being 3% in Europe and 97% in Asia. In southeastern Europe, it is bordered by eight countries. Its strategic position has made the area of prime importance throughout history. Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic, with an ancient and historical cultural heritage. The population is approaching 76 million with ethnic Turks forming the majority, and Kurds being a significant minority. The government is seeking to resolve Kurdish discrimination, but it is a complex issue. There is a mix of traditional agriculture, modernizing industry and commerce, and a strong tourism sector. Ties are fostered with the Eastern world and with the West.
B. PEOPLES AND RELIGION
The Official language is Turkish. The Kurds number 15 million and the Kurdish language is now recognized. ~7% of the population is other than Turks and Kurds. Over 96% are Muslims. Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom has not been fully upheld. Death threats and murders of Christians is a present reality. Turkey’s long association with Islam and more than a millennium of bitter wars with “Christian” Europe make conversion to Christianity appear to many Turks as an act of treason.
Turkey has transformed from being a guardian of Christendom to an unevangelized nation. For over 1000 years the region was a bastion of Christendom, but it later became a strong propagator of Islam. The ancient churches survived until the beginning of the 20th Century, but have since been nearly wiped out by massacres (Armenians), severe persecution (Assyrians) and emigration (Greeks, etc.). Since 2006 there is increased opposition to evangelism. Now, only 0.008% of the people are evangelical. Evangelicals and Charismatics number close to 4000 nationals.
Operation World, Jason Mandryk. Colorado Springs: Biblica Publishing, 2010.