We have been in Istanbul for not quite a week, but it feels as though we have already settled in. We got an apartment two days after arriving and already feels like home. Our days here are pretty relaxed, with gatherings of some kind almost every day of the week. We have church services three times a week (twice on Sundays, once on wednesdays), english lessons twice a week (tuesday and friday), team meeting on mondays and outreach on saturdays and bible school class on saturday nights.
When we arrived at the airport on tuesday night, Pastor Julian (from Moldova) met us there and he had a new friend with him, whose name is Alp. He had just met him and Alp was immediately helpful and interested, especially because he wanted to learn english more! Alp pretty much spent all of his free time with us, came to church on wednesday night, wanted to hang out afterwards. We got to learn more about him slowly. He is actually of Jewish background although he is Turkish. As we continued to spend time with him, meeting during the afternoons at a cafe in Taksim (the walking street right near our apartment), we slowly presented him with the Gospel. Roger showed him John 3:16, reading it very slowly to make sure he understoof. He was very interested but at first was not willing to leave behind his love for judaism and islam. He said he loved to go to the synagogue and the mosque and now also the church, that he "loved them all." But gradually he began to realize that if he accepted this message we were giving him, he could not go back to those. We did not say that to him, it was a conclusion he came to all on his own. And of course, we told him that becoming a Christian did not mean he had to abandon his heritage and culture, but that becoming a believer meant that he was a new man, born again, a child of God! Yesterday night, at the evening church service, he prayed to receive Christ as his own personal Savior. It was a really special night, and the message of so sweet and clear. Afterwards, Alp was so happy, he didn't want to go home! He kept saying that this was he new birthday! Pastor Matti gave him a turkish Bible and it was so cool to see him read verses like II Corinthians 5:17 about being a new creation!