The Malatya Martyrs

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” — Tertullian (AD. 200)

For updates on the Malatya Martyrs see this page.

Malaty5The first evangelical Christian martyrs* in Turkey since 1979** died on April 18th when five 19-20 year old university students entered their Christian book distribution office, tied them to chairs and a few hours later slit their throats. We were shocked to learn through the media that the gruesome crimes were video-recorded on the murderer’s cell phones. Yet since the deaths of Tilmann Geske (whom I knew and worked with), Necati Aydin, and Ugur Yüksel we have seen in increase in hunger for the gospel in Turkey, and greater holiness, boldness and unity among the believers. We have a strong feeling of hope that after over 45 years of sewing in tears, a season for harvest may be upon us.

Turkey remains “the largest unreached nation in the world” (per Operation World) with about 3,000 believers among 73 million souls (0.004%). Every minute one person dies. Most have never met a Christian or heard a clear presentation of the gospel. There are currently about 50 Turkish and 1000 foreign “full time” Christian workers, but only ½ of these foreigners are fluent in Turkish. (I don’t have an exact number, but it would seem that about ½ of the new workers leave before 5 years). The key to progress in the work here is consecrated laborers. For this reason I beg you to increase your prayers that the Lord will send forth new workers (Turkish and foreign) into His harvest.

The most urgent needs are for evangelists (those who will train others in the work of evangelism) and overseers/elders/pastors (those who will feed and lay down their lives for His sheep and train more Turkish leaders). In addition, we need those who can exemplify and teach the word of God. We have seen that God also uses consecrated business people, educators, artists, musicians and support workers for His glory. I pray that hundreds may take the place of the 3 who have given their lives for the sake of the gospel!

The testimony of the 2 widows, Susanne Geske and Shemsa Aydin, has been outstanding. They have spoken via the media to millions of people of the forgiveness and power of Christ. Here is a video with subtitles of Shemsa’s testimony at the funeral of her husband. I could not stop crying at the memorial service in Izmir when Tilmann’s 13 year old daughter and Necati’s 6 year old son spoke of the their love for their fathers and for the people of Turkey. They powerfully exemplified and proclaimed the good news of Christ.

Susanne Geske and her 3 children have remained in Malatya, where the murders took place. She has had hundreds of visitors and well-wishers from among the non-Christian community in Malatya. Shemsa and her 2 children are staying with her sister in another part of Turkey. Pray for them. A fund has been set up for the widows. Contact me if you want details. Pray too for Ugur’s fiancé and family.



Malaty6Malatya is the “apricot capital of the world” and also one of the least reached of the large cities in Turkey (1/2 million people). Tilmann and Necati, aware of the risks, moved to Malatya to bring the gospel of Christ to these people. The next time you eat a soft, tangy apricot from Turkey remember to pray for the people of Malatya.

Rom 12:20 says “… if your enemy (one who has hate for you) is in need of food or of drink, give it to him…” Forgiveness and love for enemies is one the most powerful witnesses of the Christian faith. Let us pray for the people of Turkey to see and understand the grace of God through the actions of His people.

* The word martyr (“witness” in Greek) was first used about Polycarp, the disciple of the apostle John, who was burned at the stake in Smyrna, (now Izmir, Turkey) in 155 AD.

** In 1979 David Goodman was in the middle of his quiet time at his home in Adana when the door bell rang. He let his pregnant wife, Jenni, rest, and he went to the door and was shot to death.