Friday, November 9, 2007

Widow of slain Turkish worker: 'A cross for me every day'

ISTANBUL,Turkey-On a recent Sunday night while on the way home from church services, a sad little voice came from the back seat of the car.“Mommy, I miss my Daddy so much. Can't Jesus bring him back to us?”Her mother sighed, and then turned from the front seat to explain gently once more to her 6-year-old daughter, "Esther, Jesus decided to take Daddy to heaven, to be with Him. So we have to wait until Jesus takes us to heaven to see Daddy again."The little girl thought for a few seconds and then declared, "Well, if Daddy isn't coming back, then I want to go to heaven too!"More than six months have passed since Esther Aydin's father was beaten, tortured and then slaughtered with a knife in Turkey's eastern city of Malatya by five young Muslims who claimed in initial statements they had done it "for our religion."But Esther and her brother Elisha, 7, are still struggling painfully with the loss of their father, Necati Aydin, who shared his martyrdom on April 18 with another Turkish Christian, Ugur Yuksel, and German Christian Tilmann Geske. They were bound hand and foot, tortured with multiple stab wounds and had their throats cut.The ritual slayings appeared to be a deliberate observance of the Quranic instruction to "strike terror into the hearts of unbelievers" by smiting them above the neck and striking every finger (Surah 8:12). The victims' fingertips were sliced repeatedly and their windpipes and esophagi severed.As their mother put them to bed on another recent evening, Elisha finally asked, "Mommy, are you crying about Daddy?"Admitting it had been hard for her to cry since his death, his mother told him, "I am crying in my heart every day, Elisha."Bravely trying to comfort her, Elisha answered, "You don't need to cry, Mommy. We know he is in heaven with Jesus, along with Uncle Ugur and Uncle Tilmann."But a few nights later, as he again dissolved in a flood of tears, he sobbed out his own fears to her, admitting he was terrified that she might die, too.In-laws' oppositionFor Semse Aydin, who spoke at a recent memorial service near Istanbul to her husband's Zirve Publishing Company colleagues, the shock of the cruel and sudden death still hits her every morning when she awakens."Necati's absence is a cross for me every day," she admitted.Ten years ago, Necati Aydin's strict Muslim family had violently opposed his decision to become a Christian. They literally kidnapped him when they learned of his pending marriage, threatening both of them if he did not change his mind and come back to Islam."I was afraid for his life, and that he would renounce Jesus," Aydin said. "So I told the Lord I would give him up, that I would sacrifice our marriage. I prayed that the Lord would just keep Necati for Himself, not for me."But Necati Aydin stayed firm in his new faith in Christ and, after writing a farewell letter to his family, he married Semse in 1998."Now, God has taken him back," she said. "He is the one who gives and takes away. So how can I be angry with the God who is over everything?"But the realities of single motherhood still overwhelm her, despite the comforting support of her older sister, who squeezed them into her modest apartment in western Turkey the week after the tragedy.Finding their own housing provided difficult as they dealt with persecution. Her brother-in-law’s church has been targeted in two attacks, including an attempted arson."It's a daily stress on all of us," Aydin said, "for my 9-year-old niece and her parents as well as for me and my children, to know there are people who hate us so much they want to frighten us and even kill us."Even the children have been ostracized at school because of their distinctively Christian first names.'A knife to my heart'The draining process of returning to Malatya in early September to pack up and move from their former home was like "a knife to my heart," she said."It was as painful as death itself to close that chapter of my life," she said."Without Necati, I feel like I don't have a home anymore. I can't feel like this is really my home now, because he's not here."Even so, she made time during the visit to call on her Muslim neighbors, once again testifying to them of the love and forgiveness she had found in Christ. She gifted each one with a New Testament and a copy of her husband's letter to his family explaining why he had become a Christian."It took so much energy, and it was so painful, but Jesus would not let me dodge this last opportunity," she said.But there were encouraging times as well, she said, meeting with many of the Christian believers in Malatya who had come to faith through the witness of herself and her husband, who had been their pastor.Despite the personal cost of her pain, Aydin stands by her public statement to the Turkish media two days after her husband's death, declaring that she has forgiven the five culprits, now jailed and awaiting trial.In fact, she is actively praying for at least one of them to repent of their deeds and come to faith in Christ."That's the ultimate revenge, isn't it?" Aydin asked.
by Barbara G. Baker — Compass Direct

As in the days of Noah....

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