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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

 

Dear Friends,

In years past the number of women writing in the course was less than 10%. While it still isn't close to 50% it is presently over 30% of people who contact us. With that in mind we would like you pray for women in Turkey this month and you can use the 3 women in this report as a foundation to do that...

 

*Özlem is a woman that we met who contacted the BCC several months ago. We met her and she had some questions and continued to do the correspondence courses and read the books we gave her. She said she would like to come to our church. We continued to communicate through WhatsApp messages. She received the book "90 Questions" and started to read it and if she had any questions she would ask us. She started going to a local church and bringing 2 of her friends and they started the Plan of Salvation courses. Our prayer is that she and her friends will soon come to faith.

 

*Fatma was very open and in our first meeting she said she wanted to be baptized even though she didn't exactly know what that meant. We talked about creation, salvation, the Lord's supper, what God's commands are and baptism. She was the one who enthusiastically asked about all of these things and we were happy to be able to try and answer her questions. She started to regularly read the New Testament. We started praying together and went through the list of churches in Istanbul and we found the one that was nearest to her home. We prayed that God would protect her as she searched for the truth. I met her on a regular basis and she continued to read the Bible and pray. We never pushed her to give her life to Jesus even though she intellectually believed this. We wanted her to have a good knowledge of God's Word so that she would be ready when she made a firm commitment. She finally went to a church in the Avcılar area of Istanbul with her daughter and they liked it very much. We finally went to the pastor's home and she made a strong commitment of faith in Jesus and continues to grow in her faith.

 

*Dicle contacted us through our chat line and then *Edona, one of our regular female follow-up personnel in Istanbul, followed up with her. She messaged her regularly and Dicle was very hungry to know more about God and started reading the New Testament. She then soon went to a local church in her area and came to faith in Jesus. Elona met with Dicle from time to time. She goes regularly to meetings at her church. Her mother, siblings, and aunts have rejected her because of her faith but her husband supports her. She recently brought her cousin to church and asked for prayer for her. She is so thankful for her contact with us and wants to come to our office sometime and thank us.

 

Pray for the many women in Turkey who are searching to find and know a God of Love. They are often in very difficult situations and there are often many barriers to cross in order for them to follow Jesus.

*Names changed

Blessings,

David Wilson

For the Bible Correspondence Course Team

 

Dear Friends,

People who come to faith in Turkey come from all types of different backgrounds, sub-cultures, and ages but we can generalize by saying most of them are under 30 years of age and come to faith from nominal Muslim backgrounds or have left Islam completely. Those who come directly from a devout Muslim background are by far in the minority. There are the exceptions and we will be sharing the testimony of one of those this month...

*Muhammed is the Imam of a mosque in a north western province of Turkey. He, of course, knows the Koran well. For this reason, through deep study of the Koran, he was able to see the many contradictions and because it didn't reflect the true character that he longed for in God he descended to the poınt of being a Deist. Because of this, he connected wıth us to learn about the person of Jesus by visiting our church. While doing his duties as a İmam he would often come into contact with Christians and it caused him to wonder. He couldn't visit us in our church because of the stigma of being an İmam but we talked often on the phone. A few days ago he came to us and told us he had finally trusted in Jesus totally and given his life to him. I told him that he reminded me of Nicodemus and how he was doing his İmam duties like the Pharisee Nicodemus and at the same time came to believe in Jesus. He plans to continue doing his imam duties for 2-3 more years until his retirement. His family is extreme Muslim and for now, he will continue his duties in the mosque and we will continue to meet for study and prayer outside of church meetings. We will share with you in the near future the way ahead we see with Muhammed. Pray for wisdom.

*Figen is a woman who comes from a very nominal background lives in the same area as Muhammed. She showed interest by contacting the BCC and we called her. She is a geological engineer. When we first called her she was in a spiritual search for truth and was also longing to fill the spiritual emptiness in her heart. She lives with her family since divorcing her husband 3 years ago. Our first meeting was very positive and she asked many questions about the Bible. She began to join the activities of our church (i.e. women's meeting, Bible Study, etc. 3 months ago she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour and is now a regular member of our church.

Pray for the many others seeking truth, that like Muhammed and Figen they would discover true joy and fulfilment that can only be found in the Lord Jesus!

*Names changed

Blessings

David Wilson

For the Bible Correspondence Course Team