Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Open Mic with Heather Hughes 3

I was privileged once again to be on the radio show with Heather Hughes yesterday; I thank God for these precious opportunities to share my heart and His Word with His people. Strengthen Your Body, O Lord, and scatter Your enemies. Download below:

Eli Brayley - Open Mic with Heather Hughes 3

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Preterism Exposed: An Exposition of Daniel 2

Preterism is the belief that Jesus Christ symbolically returned and established the Kingdom of God on the earth in 70 A.D. and that the prophetic Scriptures recorded in the Bible have already been fulfilled in the past. This is a nothing more than a "doctrine of devils" which departs from the Apostolic teachings laid down in Scripture, held by the early Church believers. This article is written in response to this false doctrine, following the command of God to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3)

We have recorded in the second chapter of Daniel a vision of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon as well as the interpretation of it by Daniel the prophet. This vision has confounded atheistic historians as to how the Bible could have been so accurate in predicting the political history of the world, but even more importantly, this vision gives us Christians an invaluable prophetic timeline of the plan of God in the redemption of the earth.


The chapter begins with Nebuchadnezzar having a dream but then promptly forgetting it, and he summons all his magicians and counselors to him in the hope that they might use their magic and wisdom to both recall and explain the night vision that he had. Of course, the kings request was beyond human capacity. In verse 21, one of the Chaldeans pleads:

"It is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh."

This is a fascinating and revealing statement! Of the Gentile nations around Israel, none of their gods were such that would desire a home or a habitation with man, but remained distant and apart from their earthly proximity. But the God of Israel is just the opposite. You remember that at the creation of the earth, God dwelt with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, walking about in the cool of the day with them. It was God's full intention when He created the world to have a people that He could dwell with; that they would be His people, and He would be their God. This is a fascinating side of our Father in Heaven that we often forget.

Jesus Christ was also named Emmanuel, which means "God with us" (Isaiah 7:14), and though He has ascended to Heaven, it is still in God's plan to return to earth with His glorious Kingdom to rule and dwell among the tabernacles of men. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." (Revelation 21:3) "The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory." (Isaiah 60:19) Even the sun will be unnecessary when Jehovah God is in our midst! Thy Kingdom come, Lord!


In a rage, Nebuchadnezzer orders the death of all the wise men in his kingdom, but when Daniel hears of this he sets his heart to seek the Lord about the meaning of the vision, and God miraculously answers him in the night. The following is the discourse between Daniel and the king, with the vision and the interpretation of the vision:

Dan 2:25 "Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
Dan 2:26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
Dan 2:27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king;
Dan 2:28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
Dan 2:29 As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
Dan 2:30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
Dan 2:31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
Dan 2:32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
Dan 2:33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
Dan 2:34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces.
Dan 2:35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Dan 2:36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
Dan 2:37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
Dan 2:38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
Dan 2:39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
Dan 2:40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
Dan 2:41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
Dan 2:42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
Dan 2:43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
Dan 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
Dan 2:45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure."

This vision is possibly one of the most significant revelations given in Scripture as it reveals not only the timeline of the political history of the world, but also the exact time when God shall establish the Kingdom of God in the earth, which fills the fullness thereof and destroys every kingdom of man.

Right away we read that this is a vision of the end of days, for Daniel says to the king, "But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days." (2:28) Latter can only mean the end, or last. If "latter" meant sometime in the middle, it would not be latter. We find this word latter appear all throughout Scripture, and in the prophetic context each reference concerns the end of days. Consider Job, who spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: "Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." (Job 19:23-27) This is a remarkable prophecy of the resurrection and the coming of the Lord to earth at the end of the age. This verse also reinforces the expectation that God will dwell with men upon the earth once again. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that this vision that he received has to do with the end, which is the end of carnal dominion upon the earth.

At first, four kingdoms are represented by four metals on the statue:

1. The head of gold = Babylon
2. The chest and arms of silver = Medo-Persian
3. The belly and thighs of brass = Greece
4. The legs of iron = Rome

The head of gold is revealed by Daniel to mean Babylon (2:38). The chest and arms of silver is said to come after the Babylonian kingdom and will be inferior to Babylon. This is the Medo-Persian kingdom, coming immediately after Babylon (Daniel 5:28), being inferior to it, shared by two to account for it's weakness. The third kingdom which arose after the Medes and Persians was Greece, led by Alexander the Great, represented by the belly and thighs of brass (Daniel 10:20). Finally, the fourth kingdom is at first representative of the Romans, arising after Alexander and subduing the whole known world under it's power. Rome here is represented by the legs of iron. This sequence of kingdoms is reiterated again in Daniel 7 and 8.

Interpreting the gold, silver, brass and iron is quite straightforward, but this is not all Nebuchadnezzar saw. If the vision were to end there, it would certainly not be a vision of the latter days, but the vision does not stop there. As a matter of fact, the most important part of the vision is yet to come.


It is essential we see that the legs of pure iron become feet of iron mixed with clay. "His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay." (2:33) The legs of iron, as already said, represent Rome at the height of it's power. However, Rome did not remain all that it once was, but weakened, and divided into two separate kingdoms: the Eastern Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire. "And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken." (2:41-42) Notice that the stone that was cut without man's hands has not yet struck the statue at this point.

Eventually the Roman Empire dissipated and history tells the story of the fragmented remains of what became of it. In Nebuchadnezzar's vision, the Roman Empire was destined to crumble, for the legs of iron get replaced with the feet of iron mixed with clay. The most interesting part of all the statue is the toes, which represent the ten kings who will immediately precede antichrist. The prophetic Scriptures are not silent when it comes to these ten kings. Both Daniel and the Apostle John record highly detailed revelations they were given concerning them:

Dan 7:23 "Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
Dan 7:24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
Dan 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Dan 7:26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
Dan 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him."
(Daniel 7:23-27)

Here the ten kings are described as arising out of the fourth kingdom. Then one shall arise out of them and subdue three of them. We know from the summation of the Bible that this one is identified as the antichrist, who will come in the latter days prior to the return of Jesus Christ. This passage in Daniel 7 also records the antichrist's end, how that he will be destroyed and the Kingdom of God shall be established on the earth and given to the saints.

And so it is we read in Daniel 2:44, that in the days of these kings shall God set up His Kingdom in the earth that shall never be destroyed: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." This is yet to happen, for this is that which will be accomplished in the latter days.


Consider in closing, that the Roman Empire was at it's apex in Jesus' day, while He ministered in Israel for three years and was finally crucified under Pontius Pilate. Caesar Augustus was on the throne, and then Tiberius, and Rome was flourishing as the indomitable ruler of the nations. At this stage on the statue, Rome would have represented the legs of pure iron. Only later in 285 A.D. did the Empire divide into two parts, and the official date which at last marked the end of the Roman Empire was 476 A.D.

According to Daniel 2, the stone which became a mountain struck the statue at the feet, not the legs. "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." (2:34-35) The mountain is the Kingdom of God, which fills the earth when Jesus Christ comes to "smite the nations and make war" (Revelation 19:11-21), "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10), "when he shall come to be glorified in his saints."

Jesus did not come with the Kingdom of God secretly in 70 A.D. The stone did not strike the legs of iron, but the feet "in the days of those kings" when antichrist shall be revealed, and He shall come again to redeem the Church and the earth from the dominion and power of Satan.

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thoughts on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Here is the famous Scripture from 1 Thessalonians 4:

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

This passage is very commonly used to support pretribulationism but there is absolutely no grounds for it; on the contrary, 1 Thessalonians 4 fits perfectly with the Biblical doctrine of posttribulationism. Observe certain things about this text:

1. It is concerning the dead in Christ, and it is the hope of the resurrection that is the basis of comfort (not the escaping of tribulation).

2. Verse 14 says Christ will bring the dead in Christ with Him. This is not talking about taking them away but rather gathering them to Him when He comes to earth. This is why it is called the COMING of the Lord, because He COMES.

3. The attributes of this event are an exact parallel of the description Jesus gives of His coming in Matthew 24:
-Christ comes from heaven
-in the clouds
-with a shout
-with angels
-with a trumpet
-the saints are gathered
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, [and a great voice], and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:30-31, "and a great voice" is included in the footnotes)

This is one and the same event. Paul gives no reason for us to believe the rapture takes place before the tribulation, nor anytime other than when Christ Himself signified. At Jesus' glorious return to earth the saints will be gathered together by the angels to meet the Lord in the air as He is descending. Any interpretation other than this goes beyond the text.

Thoughts on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-6

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-6)

This passage is highly significant, and I thought I'd just make a few preliminary comments on it:

Notice in the first verse the connection between the coming of the Lord and our being gathered unto Him. They are one and the same event. When Christ returns in triumph He shall gather His elect from the four corners of the earth. His coming, our gathering. It is together. (Matthew 24:29-31, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Paul was assuring the Thessalonians that the Day of Christ was NOT at hand, as some where trying to make them believe. Contrary to the doctrine of imminency, certain events must take place before Christ can return. This is not foreign to Scripture! Jesus said the gospel must be preached into all the world and THEN the end shall come (Matthew 24:14). That's one condition. We must be hated and persecuted by ALL nations for His name sake (Mark 13:13). That's another condition. Paul gives us another condition in 2 Thessalonians: "...for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." He could not be more clear. That day, the Day of Christ, cannot come until first antichrist is revealed and Satan has his final hour on earth. There must be the time of great darkness before there can be the time of great light. Paul presses this by saying, "Let no man deceieve you by any means." Men were trying to deceive them then, and men are trying to deceive us now. "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" This was a subject of much concern.

"And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time." Even now, that Wicked is being withheld until he shall be revealed "in his time." God has a plan, and He is patient with us not desiring that any should perish. "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain." (James 5:7) Things must happen according to God's timing, but so many Christians are trying to push God's agenda. The Bible commands us to be patient, to wait, to watch, to hope. This idea of imminency is not right; it's not in the Spirit and it's not in the Bible.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Dear saints,

After arriving home earlier this month I've been taking advantage of the pace of things to recuperate and prepare for the next chapter of life. May is an interval for me, which I am thanking God for and enjoying very much.

The next event, as shown on the itinerary, I'll be flying out to Victoria, B.C. on June 1st to spend the summer out west, and will be continuing to update the website with reports, articles and books, etc. The last campus update was from Montana, but there are still several universities that I did not get to write about of which I would like to, and so I'll be soon posting the final pictures and videos of the last part of the trip in the coming weeks. Thank you for your patience and interest during this time, dear readers!

These are important days we are living in... may the Body of Christ rise up and walk in the pleasing will of God. May the Lord bless you and keep you,

Your brother in Jesus Christ,

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Letter to the Global Church from the Protestant Church of Smyrna

Dear friends,

This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.”

Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35 year old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in town would also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study.

None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.

On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam.

On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as “seekers.” No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story.

These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of “faithful believers” in Islam. Tarikat membership is highly respected here; it’s like a fraternity membership. In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat. These young men all lived in the same dorm, all preparing for university entrance exams.

The young men got guns, breadknives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o’clock.

They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours*

[Details of the torture--

* Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur’s stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.]

Neighbors in workplaces near the printhouse said later they had heard yelling, but assumed the owners were having a domestic argument so they did not respond.

Meanwhile, another believer Gokhan and his wife had a leisurely morning. He slept in till 10, ate a long breakfast and finally around 12:30 he and his wife arrived at the office. The door was locked from the inside, and his key would not work. He phoned and though it had connection on his end he did not hear the phone ringing inside. He called cell phones of his brothers and finally Ugur answered his phone. “We are not at the office. Go to the hotel meeting. We are there. We will come there,” he said cryptically. As Ugur spoke Gokhan heard in the telephone’s background weeping and a strange snarling sound.

He phoned the police, and the nearest officer arrived in about five minutes. He pounded on the door, “Police, open up!” Initially the officer thought it was a domestic disturbance. At that point they heard another snarl and a gurgling moan. The police understood that sound as human suffering, prepared the clip in his gun and tried over and over again to burst through the door. One of the frightened assailants unlocked the door for the policeman, who entered to find a grisly scene.

Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their necks slit from ear to ear. Ugur’s throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive.

Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons.

Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallen from their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony.

To untangle the web we need to back up six years. In April 2001, the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Guvenlik Kurulu) began to consider evangelical Christians as a threat to national security, on equal footing as Al Quaida and PKK terrorism. Statements made in the press by political leaders, columnists and commentators have fueled a hatred against missionaries who they claim bribe young people to change their religion.

After that decision in 2001, attacks and threats on churches, pastors and Christians began. Bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse are only some of the ways Christians are being targetted. Most significant is the use of media propaganda.

From December 2005, after having a long meeting regarding the Christian threat, the wife of Former Prime Minister Ecevit, historian Ilber Ortayli, Professor Hasan Unsal, Politician Ahmet Tan and writer/propogandist Aytunc Altindal, each in their own profession began a campaign to bring the public’s attention to the looming threat of Christians who sought to “buy their children’s souls”. Hidden cameras in churches have taken church service footage and used it sensationally to promote fear and antagonism toward Christianity.

In an official televised response from Ankara, the Interior Minister of Turkey smirked as he spoke of the attacks on our brothers. Amid public outrage and protests against the event and in favor of freedom of religion and freedom of thought, media and official comments ring with the same message, “We hope you have learned your lesson. We do not want Christians here.”

It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime. Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16 year old boy who killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, “he will serve time for Allah.”

The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intensive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.

The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media.

When Susanne Tilman expressed her wish to bury her husband in Malatya, the Governor tried to stop it, and when he realized he could not stop it, a rumor was spread that “it is a sin to dig a grave for a Christian.” In the end, in an undertaking that should be remembered in Christian history forever, the men from the church in Adana (near Tarsus), grabbed shovels and dug a grave for their slain brother in an un-tended hundred year old Armenian graveyard.

Ugur was buried by his family in an Alevi Muslim ceremony in his hometown of Elazig, his believing fiance watching from the shadows as his family and friends refused to accept in death the faith Ugur had so long professed and died for.

Necati’s funeral took place in his hometown of Izmir, the city where he came to faith. The darkness does not understand the light. Though the churches expressed their forgiveness for the event, Christians were not to be trusted. Before they would load the coffin onto the plane from Malatya, it went through two separate xray exams to make sure it was not loaded with explosives. This is not a usual procedure for Muslim coffins.

Necati’s funeral was a beautiful event. Like a glimpse of heaven, thousands of Turkish Christians and missionaries came to show their love for Christ, and their honor for this man chosen to die for Christ. Necati’s wife Shemsa told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”

Boldly the believers took their stand at Necati’s funeral, facing the risks of being seen publicly and likewise becoming targets. As expected, the anti-terror police attended and videotaped everyone attending the funeral for their future use. The service took place outside at Buca Baptist church, and he was buried in a small Christian graveyard in the outskirts of Izmir.

Two assistant Governors of Izmir were there solemnly watching the event from the front row. Dozens of news agencies were there documenting the events with live news and photographs. Who knows the impact the funeral had on those watching? This is the beginning of their story as well. Pray for them.

In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Tilman in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34).

In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.”

The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The remaining 10 believers are in hiding. What will happen to this church, this light in the darkness? Most likely it will go underground. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church. Should we not be concerned for that great city of Malatya, a city that does not know what it is doing? (Jonah 4:11)

When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing all the terrorist cells in Izmir, categorized. In one prominent column were listed all the evangelical churches in Izmir. The darkness does not understand the light. “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” (Acts 17:6)

Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverence,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.

The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.

This we know. Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.

Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the unsubduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.

We don’t know the details. We don’t know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth.

But we pray-- and urge you to pray-- that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.