|(Photo: T.C. Buyuk Millet Meclisi)|
Turkey (MNN) ― A startling plot involving Al Qaeda and an attack on churches in Turkey came to light Friday.
According to reports from the daily Taraf newspaper and Compass Direct News, a homegrown terrorist cell had laid plans to attack all of Ankara's churches as well as their Christian clergy. Rody Rodeheaver with I.N. Network USA says, "These were terrorists tied to al Qaeda, who were gathering caches of explosives, weapons, plans, maps--all that you need to bring about a terrorist attack."
The militants planned a "jihad" strategy by focusing their attacks against Turkey before waging war against the United States and other countries. He explains, "Part of the rationale behind this is that it is much easier to strike in Turkey than to take the risk of making these strikes by al Qaeda in the U.S. I think the other things that were being talked about here and planned were some bombings and continued assassination attempts on Christian leaders."
Police also discovered lists of the names and home addresses of Christian clergy and other church workers residing in Ankara. Christian leaders were caught flat-footed with the revelation of the details. However, security measures had already been beefed up with recent threats. Rodeheaver says the report comes as a reminder of the environment that Turk Christians live in. "One of the churches that was being singled out, there's actually a guard booth where the police sit 24/7 because this is a major target as well as our staff person who has a bodyguard."
Police raids netted 14 suspected Al Qaeda militants, several of whom faced additional charges December 10. Christians are soft targets, which is why, Rodeheaver notes, they are used as scapegoats by extremists. "It falls into the pattern of wanting to embarrass the Turkish government, whom they wish to see become Islamic and pull away from their secular bent."
Despite the alarm raised by the revelation of the plot to destroy Ankara's churches, I.N. Network's team in Turkey won't be deterred. On the one hand, it's a logical approach. "If they became overly concerned about these various plots, they wouldn't be able to do their ministry."
On the other hand, "There is a commitment on the part of these believers that God has called them to do what they're doing. Because He has called them, He will both supply their needs and protect them." It means I.N. Network has chosen to stay focused on their mission of developing the Church in Turkey.
Church planting and evangelism are carried out by a small church plant in Istanbul. Due to the ostracism many Christians feel, internet evangelism and a Christian children's ministry are also very important parts of I.N. Network Turkey.
Rodeheaver urges believers to "pray for the protection both for the ministry staff in these countries, the national workers, who, day in and day out, are doing their job in sharing the Gospel. I think the other thing to pray for is that the staff has great wisdom in how they communicate and how they share the Gospel."