Efforts to Protect Baptist Pastor in Turkey Boosted After Terrorist Hit-List Discovery

Local police have upped their efforts to protect a Baptist pastor in Turkey after his name was discovered on a hit list carried by three suspected terrorists.

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

Pastor Erstan Mesut Cevik, who runs a Baptist church in Izmir, the third most populace city of Turkey, was originally put under police protection earlier this year in April after he participated in the funeral service of a murdered Turkish convert to Christianity, reports U.K.-based Baptist Times.

The murdered man was one of the three Christians killed in a Protestant publishing house in Malatya in April. 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."

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

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

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.