Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy

Ugur Yuksel

Tilman Geske with his wife and three children

Necati Aydin

Two weeks ago, I saw a little story in the Associated Press about some Christians who were murdered in Turkey. The story was relatively non-descript. It briefly noted that three Christians had their throats cut by some Islamic radicals. The rest of the piece talked about how religious persecution might hurt Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. Little did I know then the horror and the glory of what really happened.

On Wednesday April 18 many people in America were still focused on the aftermath of the massacre at Virginia Tech and had already moved on to inane debates about who to blame (besides the gunman) for the awful tragedy there. On the same day in Turkey, 46 year old German missionary Tilman Geske made his way to his office along with two other Turkish Christians, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel. The three men were heading to a previously arranged bible study with some Islamic “seekers” who had expressed interest in the Christian faith.

It turned out that the “seekers” weren’t interested in Christianity at all. After Necati read a chapter from the Bible, the “seekers” assaulted the three Christians. The assault turned into a gruesome three-hour torture session. According to various news reports, this is what happened:

[Warning: Graphic description follows.]

Their throats were cut and their bodies marred by multiple stab wounds (source). Tilman’s body showed 156 knife wounds, and Ugar’s genitals and fingers were slashed (source). World magazine describes the ordeal as follows: “What unfolded between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 18 could add another chapter to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. As the three men joined together for Bible study, a dozen assailants tied them to chairs, then brutally interrogated and tortured them for two hours about their church activities. A videorecording made with a cell phone shows the men being disemboweled, dismembered, and stabbed hundreds of times. Their throats were slit when police arrived.”

Necati is survived by his wife Semse and a preschool-aged son and daughter. Tilman is survived by his wife Susanne and two sons and a daughter, ages 8 to 13. Ugur was engaged to be married within a few months.

On April 26, the Voice of the Martyrs received a letter describing the entire ordeal and the aftermath of the martyrdoms. The letter begins with the following address: “A letter to the Global Church from the Protestant Church of Smyrna.” You must read this letter in its entirety as it contains a beautiful testimony to the glory of Christ in His saints. Not only does it recount Tilman’s wife’s forgiveness to her husband’s murderers, but it also asks for the global church to pray as follows:

“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.”

I am amazed that the martyrdom of these three men has been so underreported. I am happy to see that World magazine has picked it up in their most recent issue, but I am hoping for more. I think that word of their testimony would bring great glory to Christ.

The sacrifices of these three brothers has had a profound impact on me personally, and I have many more reflections that I would like to share about them and martyrdom. So I will be devoting all of my daily blog posts to this topic for the rest of the week. I am hoping and praying that it will be a blessing to you and that I might generate some more interest in their testimony.

Maranatha.

36 Others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword . . . 38 men of whom the world was not worthy.” -Hebrews 11:35-38

______________________________

Sources:

“3 Killed in Turkey Bible Attack” – Associated Press (April 18, 2007)

“Three killed at Turkish Bible publishers” – Reuters (April 18, 2007)

“Christian Turks fear more attacks” – Associated Press (April 20, 2007)

“Young Muslims in Turkey Murder Three Christians” – Christianity Today (April 20, 2007)

“Bloodbath in Turkey: Widow Forgives Murderers” – Assist News Service (April 20, 2007)

“Slain Missionary Highlights Christian Plight in Turkey” – The Christian Post (April 24, 2007)

“Turkey’s Christians face backlash” – The Christian Science Monitor (April 25, 2007)

“Turkish church requests prayer after three Christians martyred in Malatya” – Voice of the Martyrs (April 26, 2007)

“Turkish Believers ‘Satanically Tortured’ Before Being Killed” – BosNewsLife News Center (April 26, 2007)

“Widow of Slain Christian: ‘Forgive Them'” – WorldNet Daily (April 28, 2007)

“Turkey: German Seminary investigates Malatya murders” –Journal Chrétien (May 2, 2007)

“No Turning Back” – World (May 5, 2007)

25 Responses to Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy

  1. Matthew April 30, 2007 at 9:38 am #

    I am moved. This completely changes the impact of Paul, “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Phil 1:21)on me.

    I am sickened at the thought of the torture and hate.

    I am overwhelmed with the wife’s forgiveness.

  2. bj April 30, 2007 at 11:13 am #

    In light of these killings and others that happen each day around the world among national believers and missionaries, there should be a surge in those who will obey God’s command to go and spread the Gospel. Who will step into the shoes of these who are killed? Who will carry on their work of making Jesus Christ known among all peoples? There are more than 2.5 billion people who are the unreached/least-reached. That means more than 2.5 billion people among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group. See joshuaproject.net for more information.
    Seek the Lord on how He wants you to be involved. For Southern Baptists, contact the International Mission Board (www.imb.org).

  3. Barry April 30, 2007 at 2:38 pm #

    Denny,
    Thanks for the post. I have made copies of the VOM page, and will give them out to each of my students this week. Thanks for bringing this to light by your post. I had no idea.

    Barry

  4. Jordan April 30, 2007 at 8:48 pm #

    Unbelievable… heart-wrenching and incredibly God-honoring. thanks for posting this.

  5. Steve April 30, 2007 at 9:54 pm #

    Thank you for posting this.

  6. Alex Chediak April 30, 2007 at 10:15 pm #

    Thank you for this post and all the links to sources. What courageous examples. Interesting about the Interior Minister of Turkey being disingenuous according to that letter.

  7. Flo May 1, 2007 at 6:30 pm #

    What martyrdom! The Scriptural suffering of the saints for the gospel & for Christ sake lived out in the lives of these 3 obedient men of God! My heart has been impacted. This needs to be made known throughout the world!!

  8. kim May 3, 2007 at 4:05 pm #

    It is terrible and sad to see anyone treated so badly. It breaks my heart to think of any man or woman being tortured especially when they have a kind and gentle heart such as theirs. It also makes me feel sorry for the men who considered these humble men as a threat. I can not imagine having to live in there shoes to be affraid of even the meekest of people. How tortured there spirits must be.

  9. Charles McNaughton May 4, 2007 at 7:53 am #

    This is indeed a horrible tragedy, but it brings up the basic questions:
    1. Why send missionaries into countries that are predominantly Moslem or to other countries that are Hindu, Buddhist, or other religions.?
    2. Do these religions send missionaries to Christian countries with the sole purpose of converting them to their religion.?
    3. If you use the Pauline letter, as a justification to spread Christianity, there are many other ways to make people aware of Christianity…via television, the internet, mail, etc.
    4. When missionaries are sent to non Christian parts of the world, they know the risk. Turkey is 80% Sunni Moslem, the “elite” Moslem group.
    5. Missionaries if we call them that should be medical personnel and agricultural experts, etc..those who can teach and help the poor unfortunate of the world, not missionaries whose sole purpose it to convert the local population to Christianity.
    6. Have we sent Christian missionaries to Iraq?
    7. Have we sent Christian missionaries to Israel with the sole purpose of converting the Jews to the only true religion …Christianity.
    8. Should Christian funds be , instead , used for missions to non believers here in the United States.
    In this case I am aware that the unfortunate victims were German. Do the Germans send Lutheran missionaries to the United States to convert the Methodists?
    Any comments???????
    w

  10. dennyrburk May 4, 2007 at 9:14 am #

    Dear Charles,

    Thank you for your comments. Christ commands his followers to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19-20; cf. Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8). Thus faithful Christians must take part in fulfilling Christ’s command to evangelize, convert, and disciple all people. If they do not participate in this work (by either going or sending), then they are being disobedient to Jesus.

    For Christians, the making of disciples is the goal of all missionary endeavors. Even our works of mercy (feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, etc.) serve the greater purpose of world evangelization.

    Why does the world need to be evangelized? Why do we need to make disciples of the nations? Because there is only one name under heaven by which men can be save from their sins, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). There is only one way for sinners to be reconciled to a just God, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and every other kind of unbeliever must become disciples of Jesus in order to be saved from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). The only way to become a disciple of Jesus is to hear the gospel, to believe it, and to obey it. One cannot hear, believe, and obey the gospel unless someone brings that message (Romans 10:14-15). Thus, once again, we see the necessity of the work of evangelism in worldwide missionary efforts.

    Thanks,
    Denny

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