Imagine thousands of Muslims streaming to a church for prayer...

One of the most exciting outreaches of the year is April 23rd when tens of thousands of Turks travel to the ‘Big Island’ in Istanbul, climb the hill to an ancient Greek monastery and pray for a blessing. Folklore has it that if you visit the monastery and light a candle or run an unbroken piece of string from the bottom of the hill up to the monastery, you will receive an answer to your prayer.

Every year the number of Christian volunteers who join this outreach increase – this year nearly 300 believers from more than a dozen churches across the country came together to distribute Bibles, do creative evangelism, preach publically and offer prayer for people. It was a blessing to have so many because good weather brought out more than 70,000 people to the island.

The requests for prayer were predictably the same: good luck, marriage, richness, and health. Sometimes it was a mother who brought their son or daughter for prayer for blessings, good grades, or for a particular health problem.

Matthew, one of the volunteers, writes:

“I started off at one stall we had set up near the jetty offering Bibles to new arrivals. Many rejected, but many also accepted. The police came, but our pastors had all the right paperwork and after checking our papers they left us alone for the day. By ten in the morning our stall had given out all its Bibles so we walked up the hill past six more stalls, each also giving out Bibles and a simple tract entitled "The kind of prayer God will hear." By the time they reached our final station, the Muslim pilgrims seemed more acclimatized to Christians playing a central role in the day and more likely to accept things. At the final station we had a big sign offering prayer. People began to respond – and queues formed as they lined up for prayer. I prayed for one boy who was mostly blind in one eye, a girl who had some serious problem with her head, a women who had had two miscarriages, another who had neck problems and hand problems (perhaps arthritis).

I learned to pray for them that they would seek God's plan for their lives, and for God to bless them with spiritual richness rather than necessarily worldly riches - the kind of richness that the world can never take away from them. That more than just worldly romance, they would discover what it means to have their hearts filled with God's love; and they would be a light as this love wells up and overflows from their lives.

As I finished praying for each one, there would be a crowd of locals all clambering to be the next ones to be prayed for. After several hours of praying, I began to tire, but how can you turn away a crowd of Muslims wanting prayer? They were amazed and deeply touched by our prayers, sometimes to the point of tears – they had just never heard prayers like this before. One of the pastors told us ten people said to him “We've been looking for you all day. Last year you prayed for us and everything you prayed came true." Four said they wanted become believers and attend his church.”

More than 8000 New Testaments were distributed, thousands of tracts and other booklets and thousands of people heard the good news and/or were prayed for.

Not a bad day's work. :)