Confessional Reformed Pastor Faces Arrest For The Sake Of The Gospel

A 1998 graduate of Westminster Seminary California, Turkish-born Fikret Böcek moved back to his country in 2001 to plant a confessional Reformed church in Izmir – the ancient Smyrna, the persecuted city of Revelation 2:8–11, where bishop Polycarp famously died for his faith.

From the start, Böcek aimed to make his church completely visible and open to all. He knew the risks. He had already been arrested soon after his conversion to Christianity in 1987.[1]

Evangelizing Turkey is also a difficult task. “Conversions of Muslims to Christianity have been historically rare here,” he recently told me. He remembers one man converting in 1960, his son in 1970, and about 25 more Muslims between 1970 and 1980. The numbers increased to 80 people between 1980 and 1988, still a drop in a bucket in a country of 52 million people (79.5 million today).

Convinced of the power of the gospel, Böcek has persevered in spite of the difficulties, preaching, meeting people, distributing Bibles, and translating. He even started a translation of the Bible from the original languages, to replace the current Turkish Bible which is a paraphrased version. Today, his church (Izmir Protestan Kilisesi) includes 153 Muslim converts, an impressive number in less than ten years. He has also helped other pastors to establish churches.

So far, Böcek has only undergone short-term arrests, but is now is facing the strong possibility of a long-term imprisonment. The Turkish government, in fact, has linked him to Andrew Brunson, the evangelical pastor from North Carolina who is currently in a Turkish prison under charges of plotting with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Read more»

Simonetta Carr, “Persecution in Turkey – From Polycarp to Fikret Böcek” June 15, 2018 Cloud of Witnesses.

RESOURCES

Office Hours—To The Church In Smyrna: The Story of Fikret Böckek

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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11 comments

  1. Andrew Brunson is a TE in the EPC, and was originally trained in and ordained by the ARP. It’s encouraging that Brunson’s unjust imprisonment has not deterred Böcek from ministering.

    • Cameron, he’s from my home state (where I still reside) and is well known in my Presbytery (EPC).

      If you guys could pray for the folks in my Presbytery, both the pastors and congregants, that would be greatly appreciated. A lot of our folks go way back with his family since they have deep roots in North Carolina, so it has hit many people quite hard. Lots of tears are being shed here in North Carolina.

  2. From what I gather, it’s probably going to get worse for those ministering in Turkey before it gets better. Their government has tipped their hand about the fact that what they are doing to these men is a political move. They are using God’s church as the vehicle to take out the anger they have against the American government.

  3. Christians are considered enemies of the state, which is what the Romans said of the early church. The charges in the indictment are completely political (with the Bible as a subversive manual) and both Brunson and Böcek are accused of working for the CIA. Böcek is wondering if anyone has a way of proving that the CIA doesn’t employ ministers. He knows such regulation exists but doesn’t know where to find it so if anyone does, please let me know.

  4. As I understood it, Böcek was going to use his knowledge of the original languages and up to date Turkish to check and revise where necessary the Formal Equivalent TR-compliant version of the now late Bünyamin Candemir, rather than starting directly from scratch. Was I really wrong in this?

  5. Anthony, Bünyamir Candemir’s translation of the NT was a translation from King James English into Turkish. The translation I am working on is the OT translation from the Masoretic Text only. It is a very slow process. I am nn Leviticus 13 and all the verb are parsed through Deuteronomy.

    • Fikret,

      Please know that many are praying for your well being, for your family, congregation, the Christians in Turkey, and the ministry of the gospel there.

  6. Fikret,

    I recall with pleasure meeting you in Korea. I’ve been mindful of the problem of writing on the net given the sensitivities but assure you of our interest and prayers.
    Rowland Ward, Melbourne, Australia

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