Hunted and Haunted by Family | Persecution

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Hunted and Haunted by Family

They have been with you since the moment you opened your eyes to the world. They raised you, took care of you, loved you. But what if one day everything changes? For Mehmed, a Syrian refugee now living in Turkey, the transformation within his family is why he fled home. It’s what hunts and haunts him today, though he now lives miles away from Syria.

A Turkish friend of Mehmed describes the context of his situation, “One day, people in your country claim that by fighting in the name of faith, that by killing innocent people, they are doing the right thing. Since you don’t accept this situation, you start asking questions, because you want to know what is true belief. But instead, you become a threat to your family, those who protected you in your childhood and youth, who said they would do anything for you. So, in order for your wife and children not be harmed, you will have to leave everything behind and migrate to another country whose language and culture you do not know.”

A turning point for Mehmed was the violence seen by his eldest son, who when he was six years old, watched ISIS behead people. “What a burden for those little eyes and heart!” observed Mehmed’s friend. Mehmed began questioning this behavior, but that made him a target.

There were many question marks in his mind about Islam. As he began to read, research, and learn the facts, he decided to turn away from Islam and become irreligious. The more he read and learned, the more ISIS began to criticize his actions. Saying that he could not stop telling the people around him the information he was learning, Mehmed said, “If I had stayed in Syria, they would have cut my head too.”

Six years ago, he took his wife and children to Turkey. But that did not end the troubles they faced. Mehmed said that he prayed to the Lord every day with faith in the face of what he went through, but he did not know which faith this belief belonged too. He lived inside a refugee camp, and one day he saw Christ picking him up from the ground. Five years ago, he converted to Christianity.

After he believed, he began to tell his wife and children about Christ step by step. For four years, he shared his faith. Finally, last year, his wife Fatima believed. But then a more difficult process began for them. Fatima’s family was large, and most lived in Turkey. When her brother learned that the family was now Christian, they started calling them and making threats, saying they should convert to Islam again. “Fatima had stained the name of her family because she was a Christian, and the reputation of the family was very important. There were people from Fatima’s family who worked for ISIS, but they were doing it in secret,” recalls the family friend.

Her relatives came to the city where Mehmed and Fatima lived. The threats got bigger, and they wanted to use violence against Mehmed. They wanted him to divorce Fatima. “Upon this, Mehmed (who did not want things to get bigger) expressed that he wanted to talk to them calmly. The main purpose of Mehmed was to convince them with his speeches and to enable them to see the facts. Fatima’s family accepted this, but they had some conditions. To keep them under surveillance, Mehmed and his family had to move to the city where they lived.

“We went to the city where they lived and first they took us to court for our divorce. Their idea was to get us divorced and then send my wife to Syria and have her beheaded by ISIS. But because our resident permit was in another city, they could not make an official transaction and we were not divorced. We spent a week in custody. On a Sunday at 6 am, the whole family escaped.”

“There was no money with us. I sold my wife’s phone, paid the road fare, and we went to another city. We immediately found a church, went there and started to stay there.”

For now, they were safe. But the situation go bigger. The family friend explained that Fatima’s family “sent news to everyone and announced that they would give money to those who found them. Worried about his wife and children, Mehmed applied to the court to get a protection order. Learning about the protection and precautionary decision, Fatima’s family started to threaten Mehmed’s family in Syria!!”

The protection order started in January 2021, but there is little time left before it will end. Meanwhile, the threats continue. “My wife’s brother called my mother on the phone. He said that I should have the court decision annulled. They said that if the court does not cancel the decision, we will bring his son to Syria to take a video of cutting his head in a big square and sending this video to you,” shared Mehmed.

Please pray for this family. Explains the family friend, “The family is worried. Everything seems calm for now. But Fatima’s family will never give up on them. In the face of these threats, Mehmed says he only trusts in the Lord.”

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