Turkish pastor receives increased protection following hit-list discovery

Turkish police have increased their protection of a Baptist pastor in the country, after his name was discovered on a hit list being carried by three suspected terrorists.

The suspects were arrested after being found with a cache of weapons. It is believed they were planning on carrying out an attack.

Pastor Erstan Mesut Cevik, who runs a Baptist church in Izmir, was originally put under police protection in April this year after he carried out the funeral service of a murdered Turkish convert to Christianity, reports Baptist Times.

The murdered man was one of the three Christians killed in the Protestant publishing house in Malatya in April this year. Former pastor Necati Aydin, Ugal Yuksel and German missionary Tilmann Geske were all tied up and stabbed repeatedly before having their throats cut.

The five men accused of the murders are currently standing trial. The Turkish Prime Minister described the murders as "savagery".

In addition, a Turkish newspaper recently accused Pastor Cevik of "coercive evangelism", using money and drugs to lure young people into Christianity. The church has denied all such accusations.

Paul Montacute, director of Baptist World Aid said, "This is our one Baptist church in Turkey, so naturally it's a matter of concern for the European and world Baptist family. Christians should always stand up for each other - that is why we are concerned," reports Baptist Times.

The Rev Tony Peck, general secretary of the European Baptist Federation also called upon Christians to pray for fellow Christians in Turkey and especially for the church in Izmir.