This week I received an email from a Christian contact in Turkey. He shared the news that, under authority of a new Turkish law, the five men who murdered three Christians in 2007 were being set free. Their court case has dragged on and on and on, and the new law says that if a court verdict is not reached within five years, the accused should be set free until the verdict is reached.
The story of the deaths of my three brothers— Necati Aydın, Uğur Yüksel and German national Tilmann Geske—is a story that has gripped me deeply. Seven weeks after the murders I went to Turkey, where I met the widows of the two married martyrs, as well as the fiancé of the third man. I listened in awe as these ladies told me how God had enabled them to forgive the young men who brutally killed their husbands.
The young men were captured at the scene of the crime. They had notes in their pockets that they were defending their nation and their religion, Islam. There really isn’t much question as to their guilt or innocence. The questions that have arisen in the trial have much more to do with who put the men up to the killing. Did they act on their own, or were their powerful men behind the scenes that ordered the killing?
According to my contact, another new law in Turkey raises the possibility that the Malatya murder case will be assigned to a completely new court, which would mean starting the trial over and maybe many more years before a final verdict is rendered.
Christians in Turkey are understandably frustrated. They see the freedom of these men as a clear signal that they are not safe in their own country, that their government will not protect them and will not punish those who harm them.
Yet their hope does not rest in the Turkish government, or any other worldly power. Their hope, as the song says, is “built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Whatever the court or the government may do, the foundation for these Christians is secure.
When I met Susanne Geske, widow of Tilmann, she told me that her young daughter had asked when they would go to see the men that killed her father. She wanted to take a Bible to them, in the jail, in the hope that someday they might be reunited with Tilmann and the other men—in heaven. Will you join me and the families of these courageous martyrs in that prayer, that—whether in jail or not—these five men will come to know Christ as their Savior and Lord?
Todd Nettleton has served the persecuted church and VOM 15 years. He has been interviewed more than 2000 times by various media outlets. He's the author of Restricted Nations: North Korea, and served on the writing team for FOXE, Extreme Devotion, Hearts of Fire and other VOM books.