“Just as Jesus did, we want to embrace children in Turkey with God’s love,” says Ibrahim Deveci. Deveci is the director of Kucak Yayıncılık, a ministry serving children and parents in Turkey. He spoke on SAT-7 TÜRK’s Homemade programme in an episode raising awareness of resources for isolated Christian families.
“Being a child from a Christian family in Turkey is not at all easy,” explained Ibrahim Deveci. “My son, who is 18 years old, is the only Christian in a school of 2,000 children.”
As in many cultures around the world, Turkish identity is closely intertwined with history, culture, and religion. Ninety-eight percent of Turkey’s population is Muslim, and there is a common understanding that to be Turkish means to be Muslim.
The tiny fraction of the population who are members of Christian ethnic minorities are seen as living outside normal Turkish culture, evne though they have lived in the region for centuries. And when Turkish Muslims decide to become Christians, they can face even bigger challenges. They are sometimes viewed as “traitors”. And misconceptions like this can lead to being ostracised and, in tragic cases, to violence.
The resulting isolation impacts the children of Christian families as well as the adults. Ministries such as Kucak Yayıncılık counter this. Kucak Yayincilik organises summer camps that bring Christian children together from across Turkey, and it publishes books and magazines for them. SAT-7 TÜRK, which produces Christian programming for all ages in the Turkish language, also provides a platform for ministries like Kucak Yayıncılık.
Taking children to Jesus
Deveci said, “It is a great blessing for children to meet once a year with other children with similar views and spiritual backgrounds.” He points to Jesus’ words in Mark 10:14 to sum up the ministry’s goals: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Kucak also supports Christian parents by running seminars. “Many of those who attend church in Turkey today are first-generation Christians,” Deveci explained. “We are still learning how to raise our children according to the culture of the Bible.”
The channel’s viewers were quick to praise Kucak’s work. “Kucak’s ministry is a huge blessing,” wrote one mother. “My daughter grew up with the Kucak youth camps and later we served at the camps together.” “I praise God my two sons grew up with the Kucak youth camps,” another added.
Speaking after the programme, Stefanie Mitchell, Communications Officer for SAT-7 TÜRK and SAT-7 PARS, who grew up in a Christian family in Turkey, shared how vital the camps had been for her: “These camps were the only place I could freely pray, sing, worship, and learn more about my faith with other children,” she said. “These were summers of friends and laughter; of games and skits; and of hikes, swims, dances, and treasure hunts. In fact, it was at one of these camps that I made the decision to follow Christ.”
- Pray for children in isolated Christian families, asking that they will tangibly feel and experience the love and belonging they have in Jesus.
- Pray for Christian parents raising children in ways that may be counter-cultural, asking God to give them strength and wisdom.
- Give thanks for the ministry of Kucak Yayıncılık and pray that the ministry’s summer camps and publications, as well as SAT-7 TÜRK’s programmes, will continue to bless young people in Turkey.
Give a lifeline to Middle East children
SAT-7 TÜRK offers a variety of faith-filled children’s shows within its schedules, including a daily live programme SAT-7 TÜRK Kids. You can support these and children’s programming on our other channels by giving now to our Free to Be Me appeal.