Missions March 2010

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

God is SO GOOD!!


This will be a brief post. Its past midnight, so officially we fly back to Baltimore today!
This month has gone above and beyond our expectations! God used the Christmas concerts in an amazing way and we have met some really amazing young Turks that we are really looking forward to getting to know. We are sending out our December newsletter now with more details, so I will keep this short. Please please keep us in prayer these next few weeks while we are away from Istanbul, the team and our missionfield. We will be in Baltimore for a month, to spend some time with family and then to focus on working full time to save some money and head back where we belong!

"Let every heart prepare Him room!"

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christ was born to die

video
We did our first Christmas concert performance tonight. It was great to see all the practice pay off! I put up this video because I am so proud of Roger for doing such a great job! This is a Shane and Shane song that he learned to play in about 2 days. We really liked the message of the song. The last verse says it all: "We came here today, to celebrate His birth, but let us not forget why Jesus came to earth - He was born to die."
We'll put more video up later on, along with pictures. Please keep the next two concerts in prayer! We are praying for good attendance, with alot of new people hearing the Christmas message for the first time. We have already had two salvations and we are expecting much more from God!

Oh, and if you are wondering who all the other people are...they are a team of Americans who have been with us for this month, helping us in any way they can. They have been a huge blessing! They are with "The World Race" which is part of Adventures in Missions.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Murat is such a Disciple and a blessing to us!


Murat received Christ not long ago, maybe a month ago. Since then, he has never ceased to amaze us with his simple but sincere questions and his humble but truly anointed comments!

Last night after our church service, a spontaneous question & answer time happened. Murat raised his hand - as he often does to ask a question - and said he wanted to share something. Usually, he asks a question and then humbly receives the answer. But this time, he started to explain how he had been curious about what the Koran said about Mary and Jesus. He told us how in the Koran, it says that Mary was a very old woman when she had Jesus, along with many other things that contradicted the Bible about the virgin birth and Christ's early life. He said that after reading this, he realized once again that the Holy Bible is the true book of God. He realized that Mohammed came long after Christ, and that Christ's true life is recorded in the Bible. This may seem like a small revelation, but for a former Muslim to return to the Koran to examine it for what it really is and to come to the conclusion - on his own - that the Bible is the only book to be trusted is truly a miracle from God! Roger and I were on opposite sides of the room when this happened, and our eyes connected and we just praised God together!
Murat has been with us almost everyday since he received Christ, always listening, always learning, and always asking questions from a pure heart. He is such a blessing to us!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We love the Turkish Language!


It was a bittersweet moment when we said goodbye to our fellow classmates and the teacher we had grown to really appreciate. The past two months, Roger and I have been taking Turkish classes at a branch school of Ankara University. We has 3 hours classes, three days a week. It was so great to do it together and to keep eachother focused and motivated to learn Turkish. We still have alot to learn, but we had a small feeling of accomplishment as we walked home that day. It was great to think back to two months ago and see how far we have come.
But we are not done yet! We plan on taking the more intensive one month course starting in February. Please keep this in prayer! Pray that we would stay focused and disciplined during this time when we are not in classes so that we do not lose what we have learned. Pray that we find the funds to pay for the next course. Lastly, pray that God would give us a supernatural capacity to learn and speak Turkish!
We also would like to thank the ones who made it possible for us to afford these classes! They have been invaluable to us and we are so thankful for your support! Because of you, we are getting closer and closer to being able to reach the Turks in their own language.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

There are Seekers! We are the Light!


Jesus is visiting the seekers today. In the Middle East, its difficult to give any numbers to who is really seeking for truth or not; but we see that Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible is closer to people than ever before. In these last days the Gospel message is winning hearts and minds with the historical account of the Bible that God became a Man!! Wisdom became flesh. Through this story of history people see 2 eternal things. 1. That God loves this world and 2. That God gave His Son. We know that this whole world lies in darkness and there are people that are not satisfied with it. God has given everyone the ability to think and choose for himself, and for that reason people in this world today are seeking. That is why it is our great privilege to be New Testament believers. Its the most exciting time to live and believe in the only One who came and paid for the corrupting and relationship-separating problem of sin. So the question today is: are we ready to have Jesus come into our life settings? The seekers are all around us, but are we ready to be about the Fathers business, just as Jesus told His mother? "Don't you know, I must be about My Fathers business?" The Lord gave us a promise that, "If I be lifted up from the earth all men will be drawn unto Me." This is what we plan to do this Christmas season here in Istanbul, Turkey. 75 million people in a country that is almost 99% Muslim in background. There are Seekers! So please pray for us as God leads us to them!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Alp Baptized in the Red Sea







One of our first blog posts when we moved to Turkey in January was about Alp, who got saved shortly after we arrived here. He is a Jewish Turk, so it was really amazing to see him get baptized by Pastor Matti and Roger in the Red Sea - where the Jews were delivered from certain death by the hand of God!
Please continue to pray for Alp and his spiritual growth. We believe that Egypt was just the beginning of a great work of God in his life!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Unbelievable

video

We witnessed - by far - the most unbelievable sight we have ever seen. This is a video of a Coptic Church service that we went to with the group. As you can see, this is no ordinary church. Not only is the architecture stunning, and the layout unique, but it is its location that makes it so incredible. Around the 1960's, the government banished all the trash collectors to a certain area of the city, now known as the Garbage City. Muslims refuse to do this job, so all the garbage collectors are of Coptic Christian descent. There are over 50,000 people living in the Garbage City. Some time in the 70's, a Coptic priest was called by God to preach to the "untouchables" there in the midst of the garbage - and there was a huge revival that took place there! Since then, they built a church into the limestone rock cave that is in the middle of the Garbage City. As you can see from the video, its a huge outdoor auditorium and can seat up to 20,000 people! The singing that you hear is in Arabic. Even though it was in a different language and even though the Coptic church has much different doctrines and traditions - you could see the life and joy in this place, surrounded by filth and poverty! It was truly life-changing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pastor Matti's Art Exhibition at Zamalek Fine Arts University

The exhibition turned into quite a politcal event - with ambassadors, camera men, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, and alot of people! It was really cool to see Pastor Matti honored in such a way.
In addition to all that, something else very interesting happened to me... I was the only person this TV crew could find that spoke French well enough to do an interview in French for their French news channel...so I did an interview about my thoughts on the exhibition - in French! I still can't believe it actually happened because I really don't know much French. Until about 3 weeks ago, if someone had asked me if I spoke French, I would have just said no. But since then, I became friends with an Iranian woman who speaks only French and so I was forced to try out what little French I have kept from my childhood...and I was shocked at how much I could understand! So I gained a little much needed confidence from that friendship. Who knew I would be using it in an interview fro Egyptian television!
We go to the Giza pyramids tomorrow and to the Red Sea the day after that! So please keep us in your prayers. God is faithful and is protecting us at every step, of that I am sure.



First looks at Cairo


Monday, November 16, 2009

Art, Music, Pyramids, the Red Sea - and FAITH!


Please keep us in your prayers as we go on a faith adventure to Cairo, Egypt! We fly tomorrow morning and will be there until Sunday. Our prayer is that Pastor Matti's art exhibition would be a huge success both spiritually and financially. We also will be having a classical music concert and we are hoping that will attract alot of people. Egypt promises to be a new and exciting experience, with lots of unforgettable moments! But we don't just want to be tourists - we want to leave a lasting eternal mark on the country!
So thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

There is so much LIFE in Istanbul!







These are just a few pictures from the past week or so. As you can see - Roger is quite the entertainer!...and I am quite the cultured art enthusiast! No, not really. But I met my friend Asli (at the same place we met Murat) and she invited me to her art exhibition. So we made it a girls night out! It was such a great time - being with Gulshoda and Chirin, sharing about our lives. We are from three very different worlds - and there is no doubt that God has brought us together!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Welcome Murat!


This past weekend, we went on evangelism at a very old and famous Catholic church on the popular walking street. We chose this location because its a good place to find people who are sitting available to talk, and perhaps are spiritually searching. This church is mainly a tourist attraction, with very few active services. But the building is breath taking, and to Turks it is something different and interesting. Most Turks know very little about churches in general, and the only knowledge they have of it is from the older Orthodox churches that remain in the city. So it is to these locations that they know to come if they are searching for God.
On Friday, Umid and Roger noticed a young man named Murat out on the steps of the church while Umid was speaking with a young couple. Murat waited patiently to speak with us until we were finished with the other conversation! First he asked Umid if this was his church and then said that he came to this church because he has questions about God and no one has been able to answer them. He worked at a mosque as a waiter serving tea, but he never was told about God. So Umid eagerly proceeded to share the Gospel with him! Afterwards, Murat was so interested and wanted to come to church. Umid promised him that if he came to church, he would hear about a God who loves him from the Bible.
The next day, we went back to the same place, and lo and behold there was Murat again! He was so thirsty for God and for the truth. Umid spoke with him for almost an hour on the steps of the church. Then then today, he came to the Sunday morning service and listened attentively to Pastor Matti's message. At the end of the service, P.Matti ask if anyone wanted to receive Christ as their personal Savior and to raise their hand if they wanted to. But Murat didn't raise his hand. Then afterwards, Roger was speaking with him and we understood that Murat DID receive Christ, but he was afraid to raise his hand in case there were any muslims there. When we assured him that he was surrounded by fellow believers and it was safe, he said he wanted everyone to know about the decision he has made! So during the rap, he told everyone that he was now a Christian and thanked Umid and Roger for bringing him to God. Everyone clapped, and many of the men came and embraced him. It was quite a sight to see.
We bought him lunch and shared more with him about what it means to be a follower of Christ. He has many questions, specifically about the difference between the God of Islam and the God of the Bible. For instance, he wanted to know if the God of the Bible considered His followers as slaves or as children. He wanted to know if God thinks its a sin for a woman to uncover her head in public. He wanted to know if he had to change his name to a "Christian" name. It was sheer joy to be able to reveal to him a glimpse of the awesome loving gracious God we serve!
Please pray for Murat, that he would grow in knowledge and faith and also that his family would come to know the God of the Bible as well!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!

Proverbs 22:13 "The lazy man says, "There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!"
In contrast to this verse, in II Samuel 23:20, one of David's mighty men tracked down a lion and killed him in a pit on a snowy day.

These verses are discussing to very different approaches to life. The first, is one of spiritual slothfulness that is covered up by excuses. The lazy man simply does not want to venture out, and so he uses the lion (whether real or imaginary it doesn't matter) as an excuse to stay at home.
But the mighty man of God does just the opposite! He not only leaves the safety of his house, but he goes after the lion! Rather than seeing the lion's tracks in the snow and running the other direction, he takes the challenge and follows him. With this decision, he is taking a step of faith and putting aside his own fears. And he is rewarded with a trapped lion and an easy kill.
In our spiritual lives, we have two options and they are very clear - whether we want to admit it or not. To cover up our spiritual laziness with excuses will keep us from growing and will keep us from experiencing victory in faith! How can we see the glory of God revealed in situations if we run from them? How can we grow as disciples if we make excuses not to abide in the Body even when we don't feel like it? We have to follow the tracks by faith, putting aside any excuses or fears, knowing that victory awaits us if we obey.
This may seem like an abstract idea, but it is so practical to our lives! So often we have the quiet but strong urge to just hide away, never step out in faith, and just be safe and comfortable. But there are lions to be slain!! Our lives are FULL of opportunities to see God work in incredible ways. But if we never leave our "house" (our place of comfort) because of the lions, what a sad future we have chosen. Our call is to be more than conquerors in Christ - who has already won it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hopeless, the heart grows sick.

We had our usual Wednesday night service tonight and Pastor Matti asked Roger to preach the main message. Its really an amazing thing for me to watch MY husband preach!! I don't know if you know Roger's testimony but suffice to say that it is an epistle to the miraculous grace and mercy of God!
His message was about hope. In Proverbs 13:12 it says "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes it is the tree of life." There are so many whose hearts are sick because they have put their hope in something that will never fulfill them. Every day they are thirsty and find no relief, they are hungry and find no nourishment. After some time, the heart will eventually become sick, with longing and dissatisfaction. Perhaps God intended this so that we would search for the Truth. Christ said of Himself, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14) and then later He said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35) No one else has ever said these kinds of things or claimed these kind of promises to be true. Christ speaks of eternal life! That is the lasting, fulfilling, awe-inspiring HOPE that a heart can firmly cling to.
Hebrews 6:17-20 says, "Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 1God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf."
This message is so encouraging to our eternally thirsty souls! What greater hope can there be than Christ Himself, who conquered death and offers you life? Take hold of that Hope lest your heart grow sick.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pastor Schaller's Visit

Earlier this week Pastor Schaller stopped in Istanbul for almost 2 full days. Its incredible how much we received in such a short period of time! We really squeezed every drop out of our time together. He was such a huge blessing and encouragement to the team and the church here!
Roger and I enjoyed the personal quality time with him and with Pete Westera who was also traveling with him. They really built us up and encouraged us to continue in our work here. Its great to know that we have such an amazing Body of Christ supporting us with prayer and love!
One of the main principles that was really emphasized during their visit was the personal relationship that we are each called to have with our Bibles. This is something we are really praying the Turks grab a hold of. Having a hunger for the Word and hearing the Word leads to faith and specifically a firm doctrinal foundation built on Biblical truth. The Bible is what makes our faith tangible and real. Its what defines to us the character of God and what His thoughts are towards us. Its was provides a way of escape out of life's situations. Its what balances our emotions so that we are not tossed to and fro by them.
Seeing Pastor Schaller's life and hearing him preach, there is no doubt that his life is built on the Word and that he is still a humble disciple learning from the Lord.


The Turks really valued their time with Pastor Schaller.


P.Schaller illustrating how a dead man cannot save himself.


We love Pastor Schaller!


Pastor Schaller and our Africans!


Pastor Matti and Pastor Schaller on the church patio overlooking the Bosphorus

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Music expresses worship in so many different forms

video

This is a Norwegian folk hymn sung in an old dialect not commonly used in Norway. I thought it was so beautiful and ethereal. Its from Isaiah 55:1, that says "Come ye who Thirst, come ye without money and buy..."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pyramids & Alper Alp!

Please pray for Alp who is going on his first missions trip with us to Cairo, Egypt!
Our prayer has always been to see Turkish missionaries reach the Muslim world. It's exciting to think that we could be a part of that.

Disappointment

God is never disappointed, because to be disappointed one has to have a certain level of ignorance! This is why we must know the character of God in our lives. When we know Him we never see disappointment but rather we see His government of grace in our lives and the lives around us. Because of grace, anyone come to Christ with a broken heart and empty hands. We watch in great amazement as a life is changed from glory to glory. Never seeing failure or shortcomings but seeing grace and truth applied and lived out in someone's life. But Satan would love for us to be ignorant of the plan of God and lacking in the understanding of the limitless possibilities of grace. Is this too much Grace? No, for where grace is, truth is right alongside of it. Grace is not grace without truth. For it would not be grace if it were cheap. But this is a gift of God paid with the highest price which makes it so holy.
The story of Jonah is full of disobedience and disappointment. Because Jonah refused to think with God and lose himself (meaning his own prejudices and lack of love for people), one could say that God was disappointed with His prophet. But I think the book of Jonah shows the entirety of God's plan of grace - not just for the people of Ninnevah but for Jonah as well!

Where the natural man sees disappointment, the spiritual man sees the eternal and is comforted.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Beginnings in the New Church Space!

This past Sunday we had our first church services in the new church area. We moved two floors up from the small room we had before to a much bigger meeting room, with a kitchen, bathroom, and two office rooms. It is the top floor of the building so its very private, and we have an amazing view of the Bosphorus!
Please pray that we would be able to continue to afford this new space. Its a big step of faith for us, but we are all so excited and encouraged to be there!
Our first evening service we had a big "Opening Night" celebration, with music, a powerful message, and alot of food! Roger and I (who Pastor Matti's ironically refers to as the "Tabernacle Duo") sang "I will lift my eyes" and it was really annointed. It was such a great time and we had a great turn out. One of our good friends, whom Pastor Matti and all of us have been investing in, received Christ at the end of the meeting. We were all so broken and humbled by that. In Turkey especially, salvations are not common so they are not taken lightly. Its a big thing for a muslim to receive Christ, especially publicly. We are praying for his discipleship and that his entire family would follow him!


Getting ready in the morning



The kids sang the cutest song with P.Matti



Prayer



Our African brothers blessed us with a song



Fellowship on the outside deck - beautiful!