One of the other features from The Mission of God Study Bible is titled “The Church Unleashed.” It is a series of essays written by missionary personnel from around the globe. The stories they tell are compelling are several levels and today I wanted to share one from Turkey.
-submitted from Nicholas Drake-
Before arriving on the mission field, our team had the passion and conviction to facilitate reproducing house churches. Just over one year ago we established an English-speaking house church that has since become 100 percent Turkish-speaking. God, in His graciousness and mercy, has blessed us in countless ways through this fellowship.
Language and religion are two words that sum up the most significant challenges we face as a church. Because Turkish is a very difficult language for English speakers, we have struggled as a young team in learning the language to a level that is adequate for making disciples. Still, God has used us even in our inadequacy, allowing us the privilege of ministering to neighbors, friends, about 30 Muslim visitors to our fellowship, and a couple of local believers. As a Muslim nation with very few evangelical Christians, Turkey is one of the most unreached countries in the world. The resulting challenges are obvious, as there is a great deal of opposition to the gospel and much suspicion regarding what we do as a local church.
Despite these overwhelming challenges, God has blessed our church with countless opportunities. Most of our Muslim visitors have joined us for our time of worship on Sunday mornings multiple times. In fact, some of them come regularly. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can cause Muslims to repeatedly attend a Christian worship service where the Word of God is preached and is done so by us, people with broken Turkish.
The greatest blessing we enjoy as a church is the discipleship of and partnership with two local believers. One of these men, Sinan, trusted in Christ while living in another city in Eastern Turkey and joined our fellowship after moving to Istanbul. Sinan is growing in his faith and has a passion for God’s Word. A couple months ago we had the privilege of baptizing the other local man, Necdet, who is now a part of our church. Through a men’s Bible study and the witness of many believers, Necdet recognized his need for Christ and was saved a few months ago. Seeing how he has changed since then has been nothing short of miraculous.
As a young church serving in a hard and unreached land, our defeats have certainly outweighed our victories. Being lied to repeatedly by locals, seeing very little response to the gospel, receiving insults and ridicule from nonbelievers, and having high expectations which are regularly unmet are ways the enemy has attempted to permanently defeat and destroy our church. God’s grace and the victories He brings, however, give us the strength and desire to endure. What an amazing honor it is to preach the gospel to Muslims, to see people respond (few as they may be), to baptize a new believer, to disciple Muslim-background believers and to be the church in a dark land! May the Spirit of Christ continue to change people and bring about a church planting movement amongst the Turks and Kurds of Turkey!