Wednesday, December 3, 2008

St Gabriel Monastery under attack in Turkey

Turkish Christians have asked for our prayers concerning the historic St. Gabriel Monastery in Eastern Turkey. The monastery is under malicious attack and under threat of losing part of its property. This is reported by Middle East Concern (MEC).

Founded in 349 AD, the monastery enjoyed legal status in Ottoman times and has continued to do so under current Turkish law. Many visit each year, both nationals and foreigners.

Earlier this year, local community leaders started making false accusations and issuing threats. They then used the misinformation as a pretext to start at least four court cases against the monastery. Several court hearings are scheduled for the next few weeks.

1. On Wednesday 3rd December Bishop Timotheos Samuel Aktas will defend the monastery against numerous allegations, including claims that major buildings works have taken place without permission. The allegations are denied by the monastery. One chapel was refurbished some years ago and is generally recognised as one of the most beautiful parts of the complex.

2. On 19th December, a hearing will examine boundary disputes raised by two neighbouring villages. The two villages have put on hold a disagreement over their shared boundary in order to jointly challenge the monastery. The monastery was built before the villages were founded.

3. On 24th December, a hearing will consider the confiscation of some of the monastery's land that was falsely labelled as "forest". Turkish Christians regard this lack of respect for Christmas Eve as one aspect of the discrimination they face.

4. On 31st December, another hearing will consider a claim that the monastery has misappropriated land by constructing a boundary wall outside its legal boundaries.

Turkish Christians request our prayers that:
a. The monastery will be exonerated of all false accusations
b. The Bishop and others testifying on behalf of the monastery will know the Lord's patience and wisdom, and be enabled to gently stand firm for their rights
c. All Christians involved will be committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus at all times
d. The courts will act justly
e. Those bringing legal action against the monastery will be convicted of the injustice of their actions
f. All those involved in, or observing, these events would recognise and respond to the message of truth and love being presented by the monastery

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