Saving Students Through Bold Faith: Part 1

By Emma Reeves

09/09/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)While religious discrimination persists and global political tensions brew, one Christian couple brings hope and joy to communities across central Turkey. Behrem and Ayara balance the danger and chance of arrest when sharing and teaching the gospel. They run outreach programs on college campuses and host study groups at their local church.

Behrem and Ayara were raised in Muslim households and followed Islam’s practices until turning to Christ. The couple married and now have a five-year-old son together. They currently run an outreach ministry for young adults on college campuses and lead a young adult Bible study. Since they cannot pursue both this and have regular jobs, ICC supports their ministry efforts.

However, ministry efforts like these are neither easy nor safe. In Turkey, it is illegal to talk to youth about any religion other than Islam. Behrem and Ayara perform their adult outreach at universities, but some colleges are not welcoming.

The region of Turkey where they focus their ministry is also a highly symbolic area for the Muslim community and Islamic culture. Attempting to preach the gospel is thus much more challenging. Behrem was beaten several times for sharing the Gospel.

Recently, he underwent surgery for a preexisting health condition. The recovery process has made it hard for Behrem to participate in outreach. The rise of COVID-19 only exacerbated this, as working in large crowds places him at an increased risk.

“We have been spending the majority of our time inside our house. We continue to pray and read the Bible as a family together,” said Behrem. “On Sundays, our church has continued doing worship services and sermons online where we can watch them. Praise God that we can feed ourselves spiritually in this way.”

COVID-19 has also forced Behrem and Ayara to adapt their ministry to the authorities’ protocols.

At one point “the government decided to make it forbidden for elderly people over the age of 65 and anyone under the age of 20 to go out,” explained Behrem. “As a team, we continue to have our weekly meetings online. We continue to share the gospel using Facebook and Instagram.”

Computers are the new evangelism tool. Throughout the lockdown, the couple has sent out seven Bibles and is in continual prayer for new believers. It is the new believers who need it the most, says the couple.

“We are trying to keep up with many of the relationships that we have with students,” he continued.

Despite severe limitations, Behrem and Ayara are determined to continue their young adult ministry. Through social media, they are still sharing the Gospel and connecting with students across central Turkey, loving and uplifting them through God’s Word. They have reached new hearts, but are also fostering the relationships they were already developed before the pandemic.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming tomorrow.

ICC is on a mission to help persecuted Christians. Will you join us?