Thursday, 24 May 2007
Rob in Kenya writes:
Where my partner and I were in northern China was VERY cold — we regularly saw our breath inside our apartments from October or so until April. People dressed in layers. What were called “sweater pants” were very common. Our students wore three or four sweaters on top (with a coat over them) and then a pair of knit wool pants (the sweater pants) under their regular pants. Males didn’t wear ties. Most of the Chinese men’s shirts were not designed to be worn with ties — and of course any tie would have been buried under sweaters and a jacket. No girl wore a skirt. She would have been much too cold. A female teacher who wore a skirt would have been looked at as very odd here — and she wouldn’t have appeared terribly “professional” according to our group leaders with pants under a skirt.
But, what was more interesting was that as time passed we eventually learned that for a woman to wear a skirt was considered very daring. It almost made her a “woman of questionable morals”. One female teacher reported that one day, caught up in the desire for spring to come sooner than it was coming, she put on a nice dress to feel better. The reaction she got from her students and fellow teachers was amazing. She was called a “movie star” and basically given multidues of comments about how “dressed up” she was. It was at this point that she started looking around and realizing that women just didn’t wear dresses. Everyone wore the same monotone clothes carefully designed so they would blend into a crowd.
Our group leaders had taught in Beijing where there are numerous foreigners and people are used to seeing them dress in their “foreign” ways so they hadn’t stood out like the teachers did in their “smaller” (if any town can be small in China), more provincial towns. We finally gave up on tryiing to follow their guidelines as we found that to dress “professionally” (according to their standards) was actually separating us from our students — makine them feel we were way above them.
That really drove home to me the fact that it is impossible to make “iron-clad” rules about what is important when it comes to dress. I even heard it said that in China the men wear the skirts (those long robe-like outfits for which I am sure there is a correct name that I don’t know) and the women the pants. That was appropriate clothing in their culture.
Comments from The White Man:
Dresses, as they are usually worn, aren't necessarily the most modest attire for women. Often associated with "dressing up," they tend to be less modest than what the woman wears around the house, or even to bed. This is not necessary for men; why should it be for women? Try to imagine outfitting your average stage preacher in such a way as to match the modesty level of his wife's stage attire:
1. Take off his socks.
2. Cut his shoes down a ways to show off the bare tops of his feet. Cut around the toes to show them in all their glory.
3. Cut a slit up each leg of his slacks to just above the knee.
4. Put him in sheer not-quite-knee-length boxers that occasionally show through the slits.
5. Take off his tie and put it around his waist, both ends pointing down the middle of his backside.
6. Cut a large V out of the front of his shirt. Remove his undershirt and tie it back around his chest so the top of it shows through the trough of the V.
7. Decorate this exposed area with a string of pearls that ends just out of sight behind the undershirt.
8. Cut a big scoop out of the back of his suit coat and shirt, not quite as far down as the undershirt since this is a stage event and not a formal dinner.
9. Now send him up on the stage and let him preach!
Cynthia Gee writes:
Here in Central PA the Mennonites wear black tights because flesh colored tights or pantyhose look like skin and so are “less modest”. The Amish (there IS a difference) wear flesh-colored tights or pantyhose, because colored stockings are not as “plain” and thus are less modest.
The Mennonites wear flowered dresses because a pattern is thought to distract the eye from the contours of the body and so is more modest than a solid color. The Amish wear solid colored dresses because prints attract attention and thus are less modest than solid colors. (The younger Amish women also wear black bib-aprons that wrap almost all the way around their bodies. Some of them wrap the apron so tightly that they look like they are wearing a spandex dress with contrasting sleeves! 8o )
In the US, some women put their hair up in a bun and cover the bun, because they think that hair is immodest, whereas in Japan, it was once believed that only immodest women showed the ears and the nape of the neck.
And when I was a teenager, women who were on the make and who wanted to attract men would get gussied up in a dress. Pants were considered to be more modest than long skirts, and women who wore skirts when pants would do were show-offs at best, and at worst, they were, well…..
I could go on and on.
The White Man's comments:
Perhaps a basic black-and white woodland camouflage pattern would work. Oops, no, that would be worldly.
The point is that immodest women can always manage to advertise their wares, no matter what the rules of the culture may be. Certainly the harlots who hung around Jesus were dressed distinctively enough to be readily identified even by those who had never been their customers.
Unfortunately, once rules enter the picture, modesty often goes out the window. No woman really wants to look like a prairie muffin, so the tendency is always to accentuate one's assets in whatever way works. Then other women, who aren't particularly wanting to advertise, fall for peer pressure and wear the same styles just to look nice.
Women in Western (i.e. 'immodest') dress in Saudi Arabia can expect to get their bodies pinched, poked, or groped when they go out in public. We're a bit more refined than that here in the USA, but many women wearing the conservative garb of their order would be shocked to realise the eye candy they are providing some men.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
A blog entry of September 27, 2005 reads:
"The Campaign to Defend the Constitution will release a letter on Thursday to all fifty governors signed by Nobel laureates, other leading scientists and scores of clergy, calling on the states to ensure that science classes teach evolution and base curricula on established science, not ideology.
"The Campaign will also release a report highlighting the top ten "Islands of Ignorance" around the country where science education is under attack."
I invite these Leading Scientists to explain to me, if they can, the present proliferation of biodiversity on Navassa Island, located between Haiti and Jamaica. Neglected for centuries after its discovery, Navassa Island was claimed as United States Territory in 1857 by sea captain and phosphate prospector Peter Duncan. For the next forty years, the islands' natural resources were plundered by the Navassa Phosphate Company of Baltimore. Negro miners who were housed, fed, and paid under conditions little better than slavery used pickaxes and dynamite to wrest huge deposits of petrified bird droppings from the island's surface. Then, the mines were abandoned due to the Spanish-American War's disruption of surface traffic. Other than lighthouse keepers and wartime observers, Navassa was to be once again free of resident human contamination.
One hundred years later, an ecological survey of Navassa Island was undertaken under the auspices of the US Department of the Interior, and the scientists on the team found Navassa to be nothing like the ecological wasteland they expected. The island teems with life, from the surrounding reefs to the top of the upper plateau. This expedition
"Yielded the discovery of 250 animal and plants species. They found 15 endemic species, including two lizards. . . previously thought to be extinct. 'We never dreamed that on a single visit the team would so greatly increase our knowledge of the number of species,' said Roger McManus, president of the center. 'Uninhabited islands like Navassa are the very best chance we have to understand and protect the diversity of life in the Caribbean.'"
Now, bearing in mind that this island had been plundered for forty years running, read how the media described it a hundred years after it had been turned back to nature:
WASHINGTON Aug. 14 (States) -- Attention divers! Are you looking for uncrowded, unspoiled coral reefs with a rainbow of vibrant colors alive with a diversity of plant and animal life?
A team of scientists from the Center for Marine Conservation has found such a place in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, between Haiti and Jamaica.
But there's a catch. The reefs surrounding tiny, uninhabited Navassa Island, two square miles of rocky terrain pockmarked by years of mining operations, are so pristine that U.S. officials are determined to limit public access, lest the destruction of sensitive reefs in other parts of the region and elsewhere be repeated.
Bear in mind that these "unspoiled coral reefs" are only a few hours by boat from Haiti, and have been continually fished by Haitians throughout the century that Navassa's mines have been abandoned.
Speaking of Haiti, that nation has continued to press its claim to Navassa since 1858, and even incorporates that claim into its 1987 constitution. Navassa is the only piece of disputed territory under the control of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which since taking control in 1996 has declined to issue permits for anyone to visit the island (now a National Wildlife Refuge) for any private purpose whatsoever--despite competing bids from Americans and Hatians to put the phosphate mines back into production.
Protecting a Pristine Paradise? Only a pseudoscientist would say so.
Back to the original question. How is sealing off Navassa Island (less its coral reefs, which continue to be plundered by hungry Haitians) going to protect the endangered species thriving thereon, when 40 years of strip mining did nothing to eliminate them?
Thursday, 10 May 2007
As promised, here is the latest, and concluding, chapter in the religious persecution case of Mr. Grimshaw, arrested on a sidewalk outside the Linway Plaza Cinema in Goshen, Indiana for protesting the first showing of "The Da Vinci Code."
At this trial, most of the witnesses were armed with handguns; some of them with electric shock devices. Maybe that wasn't anything particularly unusual, but many other aspects of this trial which was scheduled at the top of the docket for this afternoon at the City Court of Goshen were. In the first place, the defendant refused counsel, preferring to represent himself. The judge admonished him in her opening remarks that he could make objections, but only on the basis of established courtroom decorum, and that as the judge she could not advise him on such; he was on his own. Well, this turned out to be technically, but not actually, the case. He got a little help later on, from an unexpected source.
The first and only objection to be made by parties to the case turned out to be offered by the prosecutor, and it was sustained by the judge. More on that later.
The prosecutor opened the trial by calling as witnesses the police officers who had responded to the call by the manager of Linway Cinema. The first three officers gave stories that pretty well lined up with each other. It was as follows:
The manager of the theater called to report that a group of about seven people, some of them juveniles, led by the defendant were standing on the privately owned sidewalk outside the theater with signs that read "Boycott Blasphemy" and had refused to leave when asked. The police sent an officer, then two more, who finally took the defendant into custody when he refused to leave the private sidewalk that ran along the theater and several other businesses in the plaza, including an Indiana Department of Transportation License Branch office. After being cited and released, he returned alone to the scene of his crime, whereupon he was arrested by the Plaza security guard and taken to the Elkart County Jail for incarceration.
In cross-examination of the first witness, Mr. Grimshaw established that:
-He was not being violent
-He was not obstructing access to the theater
-He was not intimidating any of the customers entering the theater
This was undermined by later testimony of the Cinema owner, who implied that Mr. Grimshaw was a hazard to the safety of the theater. A police detective also testified that she was at the scene, with her squad car, in police uniform (as was her regular practice), but primarily acting in her private capacity as a moonlighting security guard at the theater. She testified that it was she who arrested Mr. Grimshaw the second time and put him in her squad car while awaiting the arrival of more police officers. She stated that Mr. Grimshaw's team was "standing in front of the entry and exit doors," which was further capitalized upon by the prosecutor, who asked the manager if Mr. Grimshaw had asked his permission "to block the doors." The manager also testified that a customer had come into the theater, visibly irate that someone was being allowed to protest the movie on the sidewalk outside. It was at this point that he conferred with the owner and called the police for the first time.
All witnesses emphasized that they had informed Mr. Grimshaw that he was welcome to protest on the public sidewalk on the other side of the Plaza parking lot, but that he had insisted that his business was where the movie was being shown--right in front of the "No Loitering" signs.
In his only effective cross-examination, Mr Grimshaw elicited an admission from the Plaza owner that while protesting along Lincoln Avenue might have provided free publicity, and thus more business for his theater, protesting directly in front of the building interfered with the retail business he was conducting there (it was not brought up in court, but after reading the informative pamphlet that the protest team was distributing (authored by Mr. Grimshaw), one theatergoer decided not to watch the movie and even protested to the management). In response to a question by the prosecution, the manager could not confirm that the theater had suffered any identifiable loss as a result of the protest.
But it was when he attempted to cross-examine the theater manager (son of the Plaza owner) that Mr. Grimshaw ran afoul of the Court Rules. He said something to the effect,
"I appear before a judge today for trespassing. Some day you will appear before the Judge of All the Earth to answer for your trespasses. What will say to Him in your defense when you have to answer for having shown a movie that blasphemes him, just to make money?"
At this point the prosecutor calmly objected that the defendant was speculating about the personal theology of the witness, which had no bearing in the case, and the judge agreed, helpfully explaining to the defendant why this was unacceptable in an American court.
Mr. Grimshaw was then invited to testify in his defense. The essence of his defense was that the prosecutor had done a good job of laying out the facts of the case, and that the police officers had done their job of arresting him very courteously and professionally--a most unusual defense! He went on to state that in fact he offered no defense, but neither would he offer an apology. He further stated his willingness to suffer whatever punishment the judge levied against him.
The prosecutor took advantage of his cross-examination of the defendant to remind the court that Mr. Grimshaw could have carried out his protest in a legal manner, but had chosen not to. Then he began his closing statement.
There was one more objection not very far into it. It all began when the prosecutor began to bring Mr. Grimshaw's motivations into the case, as if they had any bearing on his undisputed guilt. He mentioned Mr. Grimshaw's desire to be "a martyr," thus bringing religious terminology back into a case from which it had already been ejected. But that was not the only ejection to take place in the courtroom this day.
When the prosecutor went so far as to state, "I've seen the Da Vinci Code. I have a copy of it on DVD, and I'm a Christian. . ." one member of the gallery had taken enough. He raised his hand and called out clearly, "OBJECTION! Can you please keep your religion out of this?"
At this unthinkable breach of courtroom decorum, the well-armed bailiff hastened over to the side door and ushered the outspoken observer from the courtroom. He pointed to a chair in the hallway and ordered the observer to sit there, "and if you say another word, you're going to jail. Do you understand?"
The observer must have understood, and furthermore must have preferred to stay out of jail, as he spoke not another word until the court case was concluded.
Meanwhile, back in the courtroom, the prosecutor hastily ended his concluding remarks without any further speculation about theology (his or the defendant's), and the defendant was then allowed to have the last word.
It was brief. Looking right at the prosecutor, he stated,
"You claim to be a Christian. Supposedly, so did Judas Iscariot."
This time there was no objection, and the court ruled the defendant guilty as charged on two counts of criminal trespass.
The prosecutor agreed to immediate sentencing, and at his suggestion a sentence of $50 fine, plus court costs, was handed down, the sentence to be doubled due to the two arrests. It turned out, in total (less suspension), to be only a little more than the "Pre-trial Deferment" agreement that the court had originally offered the defendant nearly a year previous!
One final note here: I call this a Religious Persecution case not because of the legal outcome of the case, but because of the attitude exhibited by all parties to the prosecution: to wit, that blaspheming Christ through a perversion of history and the promotion of a proven hoax is an unassailable form of protected public expression, but objecting to the same in an equally public manner is not only culturally deviant, but punishably criminal. This point was driven home by the prosecutor's pejorative choice of words and the judge's explicit acceptance thereof, with only one lone--and quickly squelched--voice raised in protest of this injustice.
When what used to be considered wrong becomes lawful, sooner or later what used to be considered right becomes unlawful.
Friday, 4 May 2007
The White Man doesn't usually report international news, but one recent incident has been so misreported on every side that he feels compelled to pass on the firsthand accounts that he has received. Rather than editorializing on the many inaccuracies that emerged as the story developed, I've decided to give you what I received in the order I received it--all by email, by the way--and advise you to reserve judgment until you've read the entire post.
Thursday, April 19, 2007 Three Evangelicals Murdered in Turkey
Suspect: "May this be a Lesson to the Enemies of the Faith"
By Wolfgang Polzer Special to ASSIST News Service MALATYA (ANS) -- Three evangelical Christians were brutally murdered in Turkey, April 18. Necati Aydin (35), Ugur Yksel (32) - both Turks - and the German Tilmann Geske (46) were found tied up and their throats slit in the small Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, Central Turkey. A fourth person escaped by jumping out of a window and was seriously hurt. Turkish police have arrested five 19 and 20-year-old suspects. According to press reports the Muslims have admitted the crime. The paper Hurriyet quoted one of the suspects with the words: "May this be a lesson to the enemies of the faith." Zirve Publishing House specializes in Turkish Christian literature and distributes the Jesus Film. Geske, who was married and father of three children worked as an interpreter for Zirve. Aydin, married and father of two children, was one of the directors of the Publishing House and also in charge of a small evangelical church in Malatya. Recently Aydin held lectures in Germany and urged Christians to relate the Gospel to Muslims "in a loving way". As the German ministry Orientdienst told the evangelical news agency "idea", Aydin had frequently been threatened. The third victim, Yksel, planned to get married in the fall. The German public has reacted with sorrow and outrage to the news of the multiple murder. The leader of the main line Protestant Churches in Germany, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, referred to the efforts to spread the biblical message. "To offer other this Word of Life must never be regarded as a reason to threaten a person's life and limb," said Huber. He called for prayers on behalf of the bereaved. The Turkish Islamic Union in Germany has denounced the murders as an "abominable act". The Turkish agency expressed its condolences especially to the family of the German victim and called for a speedy investigation of the crime. German politicians have also denounced the murders. Some are questioning the efforts to integrate Turkey into the European Union, as long as religious freedom seems to be impaired. The EU Commission also denounced the assassination but said it was too early to speculate about possible repercussions for the negotiations with Turkey. Wolfgang Polzer (56), is senior news editor of the Evangelical News Agency idea, Wetzlar (Germany), which he joined in 1981. In all, he has spent 30 years in Christian media. Wolfgang can be contacted by e-mail at: Wolfgang.Polzer@idea.de.
A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna
This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).
On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.”
Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35 year old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible
Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in town would also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study.
None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.
On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam.
On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as “seekers.”
No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story.
These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of “faithful believers” in Islam. Tarikat membership is highly respected here; it’s like a fraternity membership. In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat. These young men all lived in the same dorm, all preparing for university entrance exams.
The young men got guns, breadknives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o’clock. They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati
read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours*
[Details of the torture--
* Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur’s stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped
off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.]
Neighbors in workplaces near the printhouse said later they had heard yelling, but assumed the owners were having a domestic argument so they did not respond.
Meanwhile, another believer Gokhan and his wife had a leisurely morning. He slept in till 10, ate a long breakfast and finally around 12:30 he and his wife arrived at the office. The door was locked from the inside, and his key would not work. He phoned and though it had connection on his end he did not hear the phone ringing inside. He called cell phones of his brothers and finally Ugur answered his phone. “We are not at the office. Go to the hotel meeting. We are there. We will come there,” he said cryptically. As Ugur spoke Gokhan heard in the telephone’s background weeping and a strange snarling sound.
He phoned the police, and the nearest officer arrived in about five minutes. He pounded on the door, “Police, open up!” Initially the officer thought it was a domestic disturbance. At that point they heard another snarl and a gurgling moan. The police understood that sound as human suffering, prepared the clip in his gun and tried over and over again to burst through the door.
One of the frightened assailants unlocked the door for the policeman, who entered to find a
grisly scene. Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their
necks slit from ear to ear. Ugur’s throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive.
Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons. Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallen from their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony.
To untangle the web we need to back up six years. In April 2001, the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Guvenlik Kurulu) began to consider evangelical Christians as a threat to national security, on equal footing as Al Quaida and PKK terrorism. Statements made in the press by political leaders, columnists and commentators have fueled a hatred against missionaries who they claim bribe young people to change their religion.
After that decision in 2001, attacks and threats on churches, pastors and Christians began. Bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse are only some of the ways Christians are being targetted. Most significant is the use of media propaganda.
From December 2005, after having a long meeting regarding the Christian threat, the wife of Former Prime Minister Ecevit, historian Ilber Ortayli, Professor Hasan Unsal, Politician Ahmet Tan and writer/propogandist Aytunc Altindal, each in their own profession began a campaign to bring the public’s attention to the looming threat of Christians who sought to “buy their children’s souls”. Hidden cameras in churches have taken church service footage and used it
sensationally to promote fear and antagonism toward Christianity.
In an official televised response from Ankara, the Interior Minister of Turkey smirked as he spoke of the attacks on our brothers. Amid public outrage and protests against the event and in favor of freedom of religion and freedom of thought, media and official comments ring with the same message, “We hope you have learned your lesson. We do not want Christians here.”
It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime. Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16 year old boy who
killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, “he will serve time for Allah.”
The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intensive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.
The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media.
When Susanne Tilman expressed her wish to bury her husband in Malatya, the Governor tried to stop it, and when he realized he could not stop it, a rumor was spread that “it is a sin to dig a grave for a Christian.” In the end, in an undertaking that should be remembered in Christian history forever, the men from the church in Adana (near Tarsus), grabbed shovels and dug a grave for their slain brother in an un-tended hundred year old Armenian graveyard.
Ugur was buried by his family in an Alevi Muslim ceremony in his hometown of Elazig, his believing fiance watching from the shadows as his family and friends refused to accept in death the faith Ugur had so long professed and died for. Necati’s funeral took place in his hometown of Izmir, the city where he came to faith. The darkness does not understand the light. Though the churches expressed their forgiveness for the event, Christians were not to be trusted.
Before they would load the coffin onto the plane from Malatya, it went through two separate xray exams to make sure it was not loaded with explosives. This is not a usual procedure for Muslim coffins.
Necati’s funeral was a beautiful event. Like a glimpse of heaven, thousands of Turkish Christians and missionaries came to show their love for Christ, and their honor for this man chosen to die for Christ. Necati’s wife Shemsa told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”
Boldly the believers took their stand at Necati’s funeral, facing the risks of being seen publicly and likewise becoming targets. As expected, the anti-terror police attended and videotaped everyone attending the funeral for their future use.
The service took place outside at Buca Baptist church, and he was buried in a small Christian graveyard in the outskirts of Izmir. Two assistant Governors of Izmir were there solemnly watching the event from the front row. Dozens of news agencies were there documenting the events with live news and photographs. Who knows the impact the funeral had on those watching? This is the beginning of their story as well. Pray for them.
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.” The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The
remaining 10 believers are in hiding. What will happen to this church, this light in the darkness? Most likely it will go underground. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church. Should we not be concerned for that great city of Malatya, a city that does not know what it is doing? (Jonah 4:11)
When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing all the terrorist cells in Izmir, categorized. In one prominent column were listed all the evangelical churches in Izmir. The darkness does not understand the light. “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” (Acts 17:6)
Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverence,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.
The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.
This we know. Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.
Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the unsubduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.
We don’t know the details. We don’t know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth. But we pray-- and urge you to pray-- that someday at least one of those five
boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.
Reported by Darlene N. Bocek (24 April 2007)
Please please please pass this on to as many praying Christians as you can, in as many countries as you can. Please always keep the heading as “From the Protestant Church of Smyrna” with this contact information: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org// http://www.izmirprotestan.org/
From: Ahmet Guvener, pastor of Diyarbakir Church
30 April 2007 Diyarbakir, Turkey
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet you in the peace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the Lord abundantly bless you, your families, your churches, and your work.
We know and appreciate very much your heart for us.
Brothers and sisters, in the last ten days we have experienced very painful moments, which words cannot begin to express. Our painful experience has shown us that our lives are as the Lord describes: “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” For this reason we have understood one more time how holy and close to the Lord we should live our lives.
We have also understood that our society is easily given to emotion and that in such painful moments some people, whether intentionally or not, report certain events inaccurately and we have not prevented this or have not been able to do so.
When the Malatya massacre happened we, the brothers from Diyarbakir, besides those already on the scene at the time of the crime, were the first to get there. When we got to Malatya our brother Ugur was still alive, but his condition was critical. Around 5:30 PM Ugur entrusted his spirit to the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters, that painful moment has slowly come into perspective for us so that now we have begun to see some things as we should. For example, it appears that those who murdered or arranged for the murder of these brothers are getting what they hoped for. By means of our reactions we may unwittingly help them. If we do not bring the facts into the light, these people will end up getting what they desired.
Brothers Tilmann, Necati, and Ugur were murdered in a bloodthirsty way. This is a fact. But there are also some inaccurate claims about this massacre and one of these is the extent of the torture. According to rumors brother Tilmann was stabbed with a knife 156 times. Brother Ugur had countless knife wounds, it has been said. These rumors, however, are unfounded. At the morgue we wanted to put brother Tilmann’s body, which was in a plastic bag, into the coffin, but the officials and police did not like this. “It is sinful to do it this way, we should wrap the corpse in a shroud,” they said. I accepted this idea and did what was right in their eyes. I asked them for a shroud (white cloth) and the officials moved Tilmann’s body out of the plastic bag, which they placed to the side. I took advantage of this opportunity to examine brother Tilmann’s body as far down as his stomach. I did not see any knife wounds. Only Tilmann’s throat had been slit 8-10 centimeters and there was the stitched autopsy incision down the middle of Tilmann’s chest. Unfortunately there are very different rumors circulating about brothers Tilmann and Necati. It has been said that their noses, lips, and ears were cut. These rumors do not reflect the truth. I telephoned our brother Ed Grudier in Adana because I knew he had seen brother Tilmann’s body. I asked him about the knife wounds on brother Tilmann’s body. Ed said to me, “Brother, I came across three or four knife blows in the chest area. I didn’t see his back. On his face I can’t say there were knife wounds, but scratches, maybe from hitting his face when he fell down.” I knew that Ihsan Ozbek from Ankara had seen bodies. I asked him which bodies he had seen and he said, “I saw the chest area of both Tilmann and Necati. I saw purple [from bruising] on Necati’s lips and chin, but I did not see knife wounds. I looked at brother Tilmann’s chest, but I did not see knife wounds.” These are the statments of those you saw the bodies of these two brothers.
It is true that our brothers were knifed and tortured. But it was not to the extent of statements such as “too many wounds to count, beyond description.” Apparently Ed Grudier looked more carefully than brother Ihsan and I did. Ed saw three or four knife wounds in the chest.
No one saw brother Ugur’s body because on the night of the same day the murder happened, around midnight, his family took his body for burial.
I believe that brother Ugur had knife wounds similar to those of our other two brothers. It has been said that Ugur was stabbed all over his body, including his genitals. I do not believe this. You may ask why I don’t beleive this. I think someone stabbed this much would die on the spot. Ugur would not have been able to remain alive until 5:30 PM if he had been stabbed so much. That nothing abnormal happened to Ugur can be understood [from the fact that] exaggerated statements have been about our other two brothers, too.
Therefore we reach the following conclusion: yes, these brothers were tortured, but not to the extent that has been explained.
We are sons and daughters of the truth. Unfortunately unfounded news reports and media exaggerations have now gone out all over the world. Our brothers and sisters and people sensitive [to such news] have been misinformed. We do not intend to offend anyone. But whether the true facts are, let us report them without exaggeration. Let people everywhere think about the plain facts.
Who started these exaggerated facts [about the Malatya massacre]? We purpose two possibilities:
Those who perpetrated the crime planned this [the spreading of exaggerated facts] from the beginning and the murderers were simply tools for these people [who had planned to blow the murder into exaggerated proportions]. The goal of those who planned this murder and the exaggerated claims was both to frighten the Christians living in Turkey, causing them to shrink back and be timid, and to humiliate Turkey as a country that invites and causes such bloodthirty massacre, thereby damaging Turkey’s chances of entering the European Union and making matters worse in the country. Furthermore, [the planners of this massacre] wanted to give the government and our people the impression that Christians distort and exaggerate everything.
In every situation we see that the media either totally disregards something we say or totally exploits it. We investigated the bloody clothing that was submitted to the public as the underclothing of our brothers. None of this clothing belonged to our brothers. That clothing had been taken off the bodies of people shot to death weeks earlier. But what did the media do? They took this clothing and presented it as freshly removed from the bodies of our brothers. Is there anyone who does not yet know about the exaggerations and sometimes boldfaced lies of the media?
Therefore, brothers and sisters, if we do not explain the true facts to you our hearts will not find peace. I have written this report because I have read exaggerated or unfounded facts in news both home and abroad. The true facts are those in this report. Before sending these facts to you, as you will see below, I have requested statements from our brothers Ihsan Ozbek and Ed Grudier. I have had these statments translated from English in order to pass them on to you. [affirmations not included in this excerpt as none of them were from firsthand witnesses]
May the Lord bless you abundantly.
Ahmet Guvener, pastor of Diyarbakir Church
Last Saturday, approximately 500 believers (national and foreign) gathered in a demonstration of solidarity, to honor the lives of these colleagues. Despite the heavy police and media coverage in a country that is 99.9% Muslim, each of us had determined that is was worth the risk and exposure, to stand together for our Lord. After all, it seemed a small sacrifice, compared to the loss experienced by the wives, children and fiancé of the deceased.
What we witnessed has changed our lives! As the body was carried into the courtyard, high upon the shoulders of our Turkish brothers, spontaneous applause burst forth! I leaned over to my national friend and queried, “Is this normal for funerals, in your culture?” “No,” he asserted, “it’s because he’s a martyr!” As the casket continued its journey toward the front, beautiful worship music erupted—somewhat reminiscent of a Gregorian chant. Then everyone joined together in the singing of praise songs in the native tongue. However, what followed nearly took our breath away! Approximately ten National leaders proclaimed openly the Gospel in front of television cameras, newspaper reporters, police officials and several other important officials. Fearlessly, yet with gentle strength each shared his faith in Christ, and His forgiveness of those who had committed the heinous murders! Additionally, they shared that Christ had won the Victory, and at this very hour the martyrs were standing before the very throne of God! Several mentioned that the lives of these men were perhaps the seeds that must be planted in order for a harvest to come forth. One pastor passionately exclaimed, “We will spread this message, God’s Word, because we are children of the Word! You may kill us all, but we will spread this message, because we love you and because Jesus loves you! We forgive the attackers, because we too, have been forgiven.” Powerful applause, “Amens” and “Hallelujahs” erupted from among the scores of nationalities represented there! It was awesome!
However, what happened next.....can only be explained by the supernatural love and strength that God alone can give. Spontaneously, in an unplanned moment-- Necati’s wife asked if she could speak. “Amid her tears she spoke of her forgiveness of the very men who had tortured and killed her husband, and the father of her children! In an emotion filled voice, she asserted: “I know my Necati was praying for them, even while he was being tortured.” She also spoke of the wonderful love they shared as a family and their joy in serving the Lord together. Lastly, she stated “I loved my husband very, very much---but, I love my Jesus even more. And that is how I can face tomorrow.” Again thunderous applause burst forth! We were spell bound!
In the closing moments of this incredible service, one of the pastors shouted “Afferin Necati!!! Afferin Tilman!!! Afferin Ugur!!!---Which translated means--- “Well done Necati!! Well done Tilman!! Well done Ugur!! As we looked up, we noticed that the media stood utterly dumbfounded! We were quite certain they had never witnessed anything like this before. Yet, as believers we knew we had been in the very presence of the Lord.