Pray for Turkey and the Gülen Movement

In 2016, Turkey was shaken by an attempted military coup, organised by followers of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen. Gülen has denied instigating the violence, but he certainly is the charismatic leader and inspiration for a highly influential movement throughout Turkey and beyond. Members of the movement refer to themselves as Hizmet, which means ‘service’.

The Gülen movement hold to orthodox Sunni teaching, with strong Sufi overtones. Their particular concern is for a modern interpretation of Islam, so they place a strong emphasis on science, education, and dialogue with other religions. Their influence often spreads through student hostels, schools, and universities. Many of these Hizmet students rose to key positions in the military, judiciary, media, and business.

Estimates suggested that at one time up to 4 million people identified with the movement. The attempted 2016 coup led to a harsh campaign of persecution and imprisonment by the Islamist government, aimed first at Hizmet sympathisers, and then at all opposition voices. Around 70,000 Turks have been imprisoned, and more than 150,000 civil servants have been dismissed from their jobs. Many others have had to flee to the West. 

Very few have become Christ followers.

Ayshe attended a Hizmet school and joined in their prayer times at university. All this changed when she read the verses commanding violence in the Quran which provoked a spiritual crisis. To resolve her crisis, she started keeping nightly prayer vigils, and during this time she was given a New Testament. She opened it at random and read Matthew 5:44, where Jesus taught, “Love your enemy.” This revelation led her to become a follower of the true Prince of Peace.

How to Pray

  • Pray for a more Turks to read the Bible and desire to learn more about Jesus, like Ayshe did.
  • Pray for the Hizmet prisoners, that the Lord would reveal himself to them. (Isaiah 61:1)
  • Pray for those in exile, that their interest in dialogue with other religions would become true searching. (Matthew 7:7)
  • Pray that Hizmet followers would realize their piety can only be fulfilled in Jesus. (James 2:14-26)

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