Turkey: Daughter Kept from Father

Byram, a believer in Turkey, has lost most contact with his 9-year-old daughter, who he says has been essentially “kidnapped” from him since he became a Christian.

Byram came to the United States from Turkey years ago to attend university. During his time in the U.S., Byram often had discussions with Christians about religion and after many years, gave his life to Jesus. Meanwhile, he married a woman from Turkey, and they had a child. When Byram returned to Turkey for a visit and he revealed his new faith to family members, they reacted by dragging him to a mental hospital for evaluation. His parents were certain his conversion was the result of a mental breakdown. After being held in the hospital with some “really crazy people” and being given four pills a day for two weeks, doctors determined Byram was mentally sound and released.

Though the trip was only supposed to be a visit, Byram was further stunned when his wife decided she would be staying in Turkey with their only daughter, leaving Byram.

After failing to change his wife’s mind, Byram returned to the United States to manage the several businesses he owned here and spent several years as a member of a large evangelical church. He continued to travel back to Turkey, hoping to win over his wife or at least develop a relationship with his daughter. His wife, however, divorced him.

After a few years, Byram felt he should return to Turkey to be near his daughter and so that he could share the gospel with his countrymen. It was a potentially risky move as a convert from Islam, but so far the only conflicts over his adopted Christian faith that Byram has faced have been with relatives, including his ex-wife.

The initial custody agreement for his daughter allows Byram to see her every other weekend, but his wife often makes excuses or cancels the visits. As a believer, Byram is learning how to balance showing grace to his ex-wife with standing up for the right to spend time with daughter. Sadly, Byram told VOM his daughter is showing signs of being influenced toward Islam by her mother.

His relationship with his parents is improving, but his mother still prays daily that he’ll return to Islam. His family is supportive as he continues an extended court battle to have more time with his daughter.

During one court appearance, Byram’s ex-father-in-law assaulted him in the courthouse. Another time, during a scheduled visitation, his ex-brother-in-law punched him in the face to prevent Byram from seeing his daughter.

As he fights for his daughter, Byram continues to serve the Lord. He now works full-time with a ministry where he engages online with many Turks questioning Islam. Over email and on social media they carry on long discussions about God, human suffering and some of the misconceptions Muslims are taught about the Bible. He’s also pursuing a master’s degree in theology.

During a recent visit, he told a VOM worker, “There are 80 cities in Turkey; only 41 have a church. We’re continuing to pray for churches in those cities.”

Posted: June 19, 2017


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