The Republic of Turkey is located on the Anatolian peninsula in western Asia and Thrace in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus are to the south; the Aegean Sea and Aegean islands are to the west; and the Black Sea is to the north.
In 2008 Turkey had a population of 71,517,100. The vast majority of the Turkish population is Muslim (99%), and the remainder are Christians (primarily Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic) and Jews (mostly Sephardi).
Members of the Conservative Mennonite Conference first entered Turkey as self-supporting "tentmakers" (Acts 18:3) in 1982. One individual was enrolled in the university as a student. The other was hired as a university teacher of English. Conscious of the fact that the Turkish government finds the presence of western missionaries offensive in a country where 99 percent of the people are Muslim, the Mennonite personnel were sensitive about how they shared their faith and worked to make responsible professional contributions to the country.
The Turkish constitution grants complete freedom of religion to all individuals. Christians are sometimes arrested and called in for questioning, but when brought to trial, they have always been acquitted.
One Mennonite worker was thus tried, acquitted but eventually evicted. The harassment and societal pressure make conversion to Christianity extremely difficult but a small, national Christian fellowship was growing in 1986. Mennonite workers were contributing to this effort. They hoped to maintain a low-key presence in the country.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 893-894. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Showalter, Jewel. "Turkey." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T870.html.
APA style: Showalter, Jewel. (1989). Turkey. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T870.html.