Turkey: A Resilient Faith

While Turkey reels from terrorist bombings and refugees fleeing ISIS, its sole 0300x0300gokhantalasChristian magazine helps dispel despair. Since 2012 Miras magazine has been dishing up hope to a tiny Christian population—6,000 of its 70 million people. Before launching the bi-monthly magazine, Gökhan Talas and his wife were churchplanters until Islamist terrorists killed three teammates.

This June 23 to 25, Gökhan hosted a three-day MAI workshop for 14 writers near Istanbul. MAI’s Ramon Rocha, trainer Tony Collins of the UK and local Turkish author Pastor Ozbek led the training.

Learn more about Gökhan’s publishing ministry in our exclusive interview.

Do you ever feel like giving up in such a challenging context?
Sometimes I want to give up everything. But if you’re living in Turkey, you only have two choices. You can either serve or be lost and alone. I don’t want to be lost.

We have reason for serving our people—the darkness is very wide in Turkey. The Lord encourages us.

Tell us more about Miras magazine.
We want to be in touch with social problems. An issue last year focused on homosexuality and Christianity since a lot of our young people started arguing following the US Supreme Court decision.

Our contributors write on practical and theological topics. Each issue includes an evangelistic page, a teaching on the Gospel for unbelievers. A travel page introduces Christian historical sites in Turkey and nearby countries. We want to show Christianity has been here for years—Miras means “inheritance” in Turkish. We also feature an important person in Turkish Christian history. We include counseling topics, biblical perspectives for women, and more.

miras18_kapak-magazine-coverWho are your contributors?
We try to encourage mainly Turkish writers. Most of our writers are pastors or theologians in academia. If we find an exceptional article elsewhere, we will translate it. But we seek all local writers because our problems and needs are different from churches outside Turkey. We want to give our readers good vision for Turkey’s problems and Christianity in our country.

Tell us about your readers.
Since Christians are so few in Turkey, everybody needs each other. I’m the only Christian I know of from my hometown. In some cities there are no Protestant churches, so brothers and sisters attend the local Catholic church. We don’t focus the magazine on differences, but on common issues for Christians.

What is it like publishing for a limited readership?
People say, “You can’t sell anything Christian in Turkey.” The first generation of Christians gave all reading materials away for free. So now people don’t want to pay for books or magazines in churches. We sell our magazine for 5 Turkish Lira ($2 USD). To promote it we do public seminars on a topic related to the current issue of our magazine. It’s okay legally but there are risks we could get attacked.

What other challenges are you facing?
The postal system blocks us from distributing in eastern Turkey especially, so we’d like to make a deal with a private delivery company. We don’t have an office or vehicle—we carry the magazine copies from the printer in our backpacks. We’d also like to pay our writers more and hire a full-time editor.

Would you tell us about one of your readers?
A gay prisoner in İsparta wrote us and requested our magazine. He had been a prostitute, very dangerous work—nobody wanted to talk to him. My wife took him the magazine personally.

His life has been changing daily. My wife told him several years ago, “You’ll be married someday and have a child.” He replied, “My life is changing, but I’ll never be a man completely.”

A few months ago his wife had a baby boy. He wants to be a pastor and is currently on staff at a church. He’s starting to write his testimony as a book. He’s very brave.

>>Watch this 2-minute video with Gökhan Talas from our LittWorld 2015 conference

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