Dear friends

                   I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  (Psalm 91:2)

 Mardin 

The town of Mardin, located in South-eastern Turkey, was already in existence at the time of Daniel. Its name in the Syriac/Assyrian Aramaic language and Roman is Marida or Merida which translates as "Fortress".

                       

                               The monastery of Dayrulzafaran, established in the 5th Century near to Mardin.

We can think of a fortress as a metaphor of God’s protection for his people: a safe place to hide from our enemies, a shelter of refuge and and a stronghold. One of the best loved hymns in the Lutheran tradition and sung among Protestants is “A Mighty Fortress.” It has been called the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation”. 500 years ago, Luther aimed to conquer his fear of his oppressors and their selective distorted information. He declared his conscience captive to the faith which is a gift of God and said that the righteousness of God comes to us through His promise when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

We can think of God as a fortress as he protects his people. He sees our every move and looks into the depths of our souls. He watches out for the approach of our enemy or other things that may cause us troubles while they are yet far away. 

The history of the early 20th Century in Mardin was very sad for the Syrian, Armenian and Kurdish people who saw bloodshed and massacre. The inhabitants were scattered and never had the chance to return.

Since then, most of the Syrian Orthodox churches have closed their doors and the one remaining Chaldean Syrian church in the town centre, which has been there since AD 396, has only one priest left and after him they will not be able to run this church any longer.

There is a Protestant church building in Mardin which dates from a revival in the 19th Century, was closed for a hundred years. because of persecution and the conflict between the government and the Kurds. 

Pastor Ender, our brother, was appointed to be in charge of the small congregation of the Protestant Mardin church.The building has been restored and reopened in the last 5 years and now has a small meeting of believers. They were planning a celebration for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at the end of October, with a Turkish choir and orchestra and an International choir, and they asked Sunhee and the BCC office staff to help organise this city event. In just a short time Sunhee and the BCC office staff were able to pull together a 40 member choir, who not only performed at the celebration last Tuesday but did open air evangelism in the town square and a shopping centre on a couple of days before!

                                                                                                           
The celebration was held in a local hotel and was attended by about 500 guests, including civic dignitaries. In addition of the musical pieces there were messages from Pastor Levent from Istanbul, Pastor Ender, and the Syrian Orthodox Bishop Gabriel.

                

 A local orchestra and choir from Mardin praised God and presented their chants and the Lord’s Prayer in five different languages: Aramaic, Armenian, Syrian Aramaic, Kurdish and Turkish. They also joined together with the International choir in  “Amazing Grace” and the “Hallelujah Chorus,” which brought all the audience to their feet in reverence to God. For a hundred years they had never been able to worship God in a public place, even though the enemy may have taken over the places that were once dedicated to the worship of God.

We know that God will not only deliver his people out of their troubles in due time, but he confirmed his word and His promise when he came in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our fortress, our defence and the strength of our hope. 

Even though the people may be afraid to be known as Christian and ashamed of their faith, Martin Luther’s legacy for the righteousness of God is being revealed in Mardin and reaches out into people’s lives through the Holy Spirit. This mighty fortress is being proclaimed in Mardin and there is no-one like our God, who is our fortress yesterday, today and forever. 

Please pray for God to continue to work in Mardin, especially in the hearts of those who attended the celebration.

Many thanks for your support and partnership.

Sunhee Kim Grice

on behalf of the BCC team