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Dear Friends,

Last month we shared an excerpt from the diary of a "Short Termer" about an outreach in Istanbul. This month we will conclude the second and last part of the short termers diary. This month it will be about the short termers 2nd week in Turkey and the ministry she was doing in Izmit Turkey. Read, enjoy and most of all pray as the Lord leads you after reading it.

Day 8

A new week, a new town, a new church, a new challenge. Today we travelled about an hour away from Istanbul to another city.

It’s a lot more conservative here – a lot more women cover their heads and wear long coats and skirts, and the main street has 3 mosques in it. Evidently not many foreigners visit this town – we were getting a lot of stares as we wandered down the main street. No doubt the rumour mill went into overdrive and the whole town knows we’re here!

This is a province of close to 2 million people and we’re working with the only church in the province. It’s a small church of only 12 members. You read that right – there’s only 12 Christians in this province of almost 2 million people! We’ve got some work to do…. The plan is similar to what we did in Istanbul: the church will open its doors for a series of events this week, and we’ll hit the streets to drum up as much publicity as we can.

Day 9

Tonight was our first public event here – an International Concert to which all were invited.  Some musicians and artists from a ministry called TACO came out from Istanbul, and together we put on an evening of music, drama, dance and sharing. 65 people came! I think their favourite part was hearing the foreigners sing songs in Turkish, certainly they all joined in at that point. For me, the highlight was hearing the audience react to a drama about salvation. When Jesus came in and rescued the main character there was clapping and cheering - they got it! I’m not sure whether everyone understood that that was Jesus and that the main character represented them though.

Afterwards, the pastor of this church told us that he estimate that 40% of the audience was interested in the gospel.

Although Turkey has a secular constitution and there is freedom of religion, there’s a lot of suspicion about anyone who isn’t a Muslim. The community isn’t really happy about having a church in their neighbourhood, and there’s a lot of pressure put on Christians from a Muslim background.

 

Day 10

The first people in the door this afternoon were some ‘friends’ from the local mosque. They set up camp in the lounge and debated with the pastor for a couple of hours. I don’t know what they were hoping to achieve, perhaps they were checking out who was coming in? It didn’t matter though – while they were talking about 15 people came in and hung out in another room, discussing all kinds of issues and asking questions like ‘how can God exist when there’s so much suffering in the world?’ Some of them were people who came to the concert last night.

And now for the bizarre moments of the day. A few of us took stools outside to sit in front of the church just make it look more welcoming, and while we were chatting a police motorcycle drove by, taking a good look at us as they passed. We didn’t think anything of it; we’re pretty used to being stared at here now. 5 minutes later, they were back, We said no, they drove off, then almost immediately up strolled 3 police officers. As we were chatting, back came the motorbike – finally they found each other, and were happy to come in for tea and to chat to the pastor. They left an hour later, clutching their bibles and other gospel literature which the pastor gave them. One of them even asked for a photo with me outside the church!

Day 11

Tonight’s event was a seminar on apologetics. It was advertised with questions like ‘So when did Christians decide to worship 3 Gods?’ which is apparently what Muslims in Turkey believe about Christians. Since it was all in Turkish I didn’t go, instead I babysat the church kids so that their parents could attend. About 30 people came (including some ‘friends’ from the mosque), and apparently it was a great night – church members found themselves in good discussions afterwards. The best part of all was that 7 people signed up for a Bible study exploring who Jesus is.

 

Day 12

Apparently, yesterday a group of young men planned to come and attack the church. I guess someone must have preached against what the church was doing at mosque yesterday. (Could that be why no one wanted to take our flyers today? Who knows.) The police heard about the planned attack and were able to divert it or break it up before we ever heard of it. But evidently they were concerned enough to send half a dozen officers to the church today to make sure there was no trouble.

Day 13

My last day in Turkey. It’s been fun, challenging, tiring, exciting, and amazing.

I’ve done things here that I would never in a million years do at home. Which is weird, because you’d think it would be easier to tell people about Jesus and invite them to church when you speak the same language! I’m going to miss a lot about Turkey:

• My teammates (who are simply awesome people!)

• The feeling that you never know what is going to happen next

• Being stretched to pray more for simple things like where to go and who to talk to

• The smiles, faith and enthusiasm of the Turkish believers

• Turkish food! Seriously good…

In debrief today one of the long termers gave us this statistic: there are 81 provinces in Turkey. Only 30 of them have a church. In a country of 75 million people there are only 3,500 believers. That’s heartbreaking. But also motivating – there’s so much left to do and we’re the ones God’s asking to do it!

What we did in our outreach was only a drop in the bucket, it was only 2 weeks but 4 people made professions of faith and 7 others are studying the Bible. Who knows how many other people will visit the churches we worked with in the months ahead?

There are lots of options for you to come and have your own Turkey adventure – you should check it out! It's definitely a great way to spend your vacation!

Blessings,

For the BCC Team

*Please note that this update first appeared in May 2011

Dear Friends

We regularly do public outreaches from our BCC Office but a few times a year we have a special concentrated outreach over an extended time of 1-2 weeks with short term groups.  In January we had an almost two week outreach made up of an international group from various countries.  We thought you would enjoy a diary of one of the girls on the team.  This month we give you week 1 – Istanbul.

Day 1

Our team is going to be working with a local church, who want to reach out more into their community.

It’s a nice little church, the building looks a lot like a church at home (including pews, which my church doesn’t have any more!), and the people are really nice. There’s a number of older people who are going to have the church open to the public each day so people can come in and chat. In the evenings there will be some seminars, and I think they’re going to show the Jesus film one night too. Our job – PUBLICITY.  Yes, it appears that we’re going to do whatever we can to get attention and invite people to come to the church and check it out.

Day 2


So today we went to a major pedestrian area to do some street performing.  Push out of your mind any ideas you have of really great buskers, mime artists or acrobats that you may have seen, because that wasn’t us! Instead imagine a rag-tag multi-cultural bunch of people who can all hold a tune (I think!), but held song books because we didn’t know the words, got completely out of rhythm at one point, and were screaming to be heard over the traffic. That was us!  It was really busy, lots of people rushing through. We found a spot, I pulled my guitar out of its case and turned around….there were already 3 people stood watching us and we hadn’t even started yet! Off we went though, with our combination of worship songs, card tricks and drama, and we soon had a crowd of about 50 people gathered around. We got some invitations out which was great.

Day 3

So, we abandoned the idea of performing and decided to split up and hand out invitations to people we passed on the street. And that’s when we met Ali. The first time I noticed him was when he started yelling at my teammate *Sue, who had just handed him an invitation to come visit the church. I just assumed poor Sue was getting yelled at for handing out propaganda.  One of the Turkish guys on our team came over to translate and what Ali was really saying was ‘where have you been? I’ve been looking for a church for 6 months!’ Ali is a Muslim who wants to change his religion. He was so enthusiastic that he wanted us to drop everything and take him to the church right then and there. We couldn’t but we did give him some literature. He’s promised to come and visit the church soon, and we got his phone number so the people at the church can follow him up.  I have to say I’m quite amazed by that meeting! God must have set it up, because it was never in our plan to be on that street at all, much less while Ali was there…..

Day 4

Things I learnt about myself today include:

• I’m not as fit as I thought I was! My legs really didn’t like all those hills…..

• I found it much less confronting to slip invitations under doors than to hand an invitation in person to someone on the street

• I don’t mind standing out as a ‘foreigner’ on neighbourhood streets (and believe me, people notice the foreigner!)

Day 5

Tonight was interesting as a number of guys got into conversation afterwards. And not nice conversations either – these guys decided to have an argument with the Turkish speakers in our group.  Here’s the strange thing though – as these guys were all being loud and angry about the Christians being on the streets, a crowd gathered to check out what the fuss was all about. And a LOT of that crowd asked me for invitations. A few even asked for directions to the church! I guess its proof of that old saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity....

What’s really encouraging is that already people are coming to the church. I met one of them, a student named Liana. Today she saw the sign on the church door: ‘Welcome’. So she came in and had a chat with the pastor. This morning there was a guy already waiting when the pastor got to the church. Even though the invitations said the church wasn’t open until 2, he couldn’t wait that long!

Day 6

Anyway, despite being tired, tonight we were back out on ‘our corner’ where we’ve been several times this week. It was the final evening event at the church and we wanted to get as many people as possible to come along. I looked to one side, and there was one of the members of the church who’d come out with us to help us invite people. He was frantically busy, grabbing everyone who passed by so he could invite them to come to his church. All of a sudden this became less about us and whether people were paying attention to us, and more about Turkish Christians, inviting other Turks to come and join them. So, we carried on, praising God on a street corner in a Muslim country while one of our team stepped out to guide groups of people to the church, and our Turkish brother continued to reach his community. Now that’s partnering with the national church!

Day 7

Our final day –  Sunday!

Apparently most weeks the church sanctuary is about half full for the service. This week it was packed! OK, yes, some of the extras were our team, but by half way through the service the elders were rushing about putting chairs in the aisle for all the people standing at the rear.

And what was going on was, the gospel was preached. The pastor spoke about ‘How do you know that you’re a Christian’ and at the end he gave an altar call. 4 people responded and gave their lives to Christ – how great is that? 2 of them have been attending the church for a little while, but the other 2 were at the church today because they’d received one of our invitations somehow.  The last few days we’d kept ourselves going by saying ‘If one person meets Jesus because of this, it will be worth it’. Not just one, but 4 new believers! Very worth it!! How great is our God!

STAY TUNED NEXT MONTH FOR WEEK TWO - IZMIT

*Names changed

Blessings,

For the BCC Team 

*Please note that this update first appeared in April 2011

 

Dear Friends,

This month we want to give you a report again focusing on our “Knowing God” website and some of the recent results from December and January:

 

Total unique visitors / Visits   2,224,711

Total of forms filled   18,608 (0.84% of visitors)

                                         December                                    January

General visitors                 13,164                                          48,137

Filled out the form                 123                                                390

Asked a question                        5                                                  37

Forms per day                             4                                                  13

There were higher numbers in January because we were able to spend more on advertising.

There is a new Turkish believer who is working with us. He is helping greatly by sending a “welcome” message to all those who write to us for the first time and also sending standard e-mails to all those who ask general questions that don’t need a personal response.

In the cities of Antakya, Adana and Diyarbakir there are national workers now working as e-teachers giving personal response to those who write in. *Erkin went to Antalya, Gaziantep and Diyarbakir to meet with those doing this teaching through the internet and to meet with potential e-teachers. We are praying that 2-3 new volunteer workers will materialize from Antalya and Gaziantep.

At the end of December, right before Christmas we invited all of our contacts from the area around the Marmara region of Turkey (Istanbul and surrounding provinces), along with the local churches for a “Get to know us” evening. Two new Turkish believers (Burak & Oguz), who came to faith through our website, were there.

  

  

In the last 2-3 months by means of the “Knowing God” website 4 people have come to faith and became members of local churches.

Two of these new believers are girls (Gülçin & Mehtap). Gülçin is waiting for *Mesrure, a full-time worker with the BCC to get well from a recent injury.  She is anxiously waiting for Mesrure to get well so she can start attending church with her in Istanbul.  Both these girls are also anxiously waiting to start our new online course (5 questions – 1 Answer).

Facebook Our BCC Facebook and Twitter projects continue to grow. We have many opportunities to share the gospel through these sites. We now have over 5,000 members on Facebook of which over two thirds are not believers. Please pray for great fruit from these internet tools.

Blessings,

For the BCC Team

*Names changed

*Pleas note that this update first appeared in March 2011