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Dear Friends

We have two stories for you this month.  One about a young girl from Ankara and one about a man from the province of Ordu on the Black Sea Coast of Northeastern Turkey. As you read their stories pray for them and that God would bring many more like them to true faith in the living God.

For the BCC Team

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"In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:10

A friend of ours from the Bible Correspondence Course sent us the phone number of a girl in Ankara named Cemre who had been corresponding with them for quite some time and wanted to meet with a Christian. We called her, met downtown and sat down over milkshakes to hear her story. She had read the Koran first and then had started comparing it with the New Testament. She explained that she was drawn to the love and grace that she saw in the New Testament as opposed to the judgement in the Koran. We asked her if she believed that Jesus died for her sins and rose again. She said that she did, so we prayed with her and explained to her that she now had the Holy Spirit living inside her. We invited her to our next meeting and plan to keep in touch and start Bible lessons with her. She said she was eager to come and learn and help in any way possible.

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"Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest."

John 4:35

The fields are ripe and we are having the opportunity to reap!

From Orhan, the pastor of the church in Samsun:

The brother in the picture is Cevdet. At one time Cevdet was an Muslim Imam (priest). He is married with two children and actually visited our church 3 years ago. I was put in contact again with him through the BCC chat line. He is now a person who knows and loves Christ. I have now met with him several times and have asked him directly, "What are you?" He replied to me, "I am not a Muslim, I am a Christian and a follower of Jesus but I have many, many things to learn."Please continue to pray for us as a church. Four people will be baptized (another one "Aycan" from the BCC and also from the city of Ordu).

Your brother Orhan

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Istanbul. Even though it sometimes seems like few are coming to faith there are signs that there are thousands who are searching for truth and hungry to know God. Lydia is one of these people and here is a synopsis of her story:

*Lydia is 27 years old. She used to wonder who God and Jesus were. One day she found our web site and felt what she was reading there was true. For two years she visited our web site. She was hesitant to write to us but eventually after researching she contacted us. We met her and helped her to receive Jesus.

She grew up in the South of Turkey. When she was 8 years old someone (most likely the BCC) sent the Jesus film and a New Testament to her family. They watched the Jesus film together and she wanted to know more but she was afraid to tell her family. In religion class at school she longed for the religion teacher to teach about Jesus but she never did. One day her school went on a trip to the mosque. She heard that it was God's house and a place of peace, but she couldn't find peace and was very discouraged.

After she moved to a big city with her family they visited a Catholic church and she was amazed to feel the peace of God's presence. She wrote a letter to us and said she wanted to follow Jesus. Some of the women from our office visited her and explained about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. She was ready to accept Jesus and now wants to go to church.

Please pray for Lydia and pray for those who are on the road but still haven’t arrived at their final destination.

For a long time we have realized how many more workers we could use at the Bible Correspondence Course in almost every capacity (chat operators, data entry people, follow-up people, etc.). Please pray for this great need!

Here is a poster we are making to advertise the BCC in the churches and other places...

Blessings

For the BCC Team

*Names changed

*Please note that this update first appeared in November 2011 

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