Turkish Christians have requested foreign Christian aid workers not to distribute Bibles during their aid work. Instead, foreigners should work closely with local organisations.
That is reported by the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad based on an article in Christianity Today. The reason for the plea of Turkish Christian organisations is that local authorities refused the help of churches when they discovered that Christian volunteers distributed Bibles in the city Kahramanmaras after it was hit by the severe earthquake earlier this month.
In reaction, the Protestant Association of Turkey (Tek) has been working on guidelines. It issued six directives for aid organisations. One of them is that aid workers should not distribute Bibles and evangelistic materials. Another directive is that help should be coordinated closely in cooperation with local churches and that Turkish sensitivities should be avoided. These sensitivities include political comments and taking unauthorised pictures.
Elder Ilyas Uyar from the Protestant Church Foundation in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir points out that this way of evangelising is not the “way of Jesus”. Instead, he calls it opportunistic and ineffective. “We say we are Christians all the time, but it is disgusting to connect this to aid.” He strongly dislikes that some Christian organisations take pictures and photos without asking, to use them for their campaigns abroad.
The President of the First Hope Association, one of the Turkish Protestant aid organisations that help in case of disasters, expresses his anger about how Christian organisations set up their aid. He calls some workers “well-meaning humanitarian tourists.” “They fly here with twenty people, stay in hotels and rent cars. In the meantime, our people cannot find a place to sleep”, he said to Christianity Today.