Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year

Well I hope all of you had a merry Christmas. Now it is on to 2009! I'm really looking forward to what God has for our family in 2009. Let me update you about the past few weeks. We went to a city about 5 hrs. east after the Sacrifice Holiday. It was coooooooooold. Negative 5 degrees to be exact. We spent the weekend with my Turkish helpers family. It was a great cultural experience. They were so nice and fed us more than we needed. Even though this city has a population of about 300,000, it is different from the big city that we're used to. On Friday most people actually go to the mosque. The streets were virtually silent. Nothing like Ankara. On our return home we had quite an adventure. We were literally in the middle of nowhere and Angie accidently shifted from 5th gear to 2nd. We sat on the side of the road in the cold for an hour waiting for a tow truck. Thankfully, he gave us a ride back to Ankara, because all of the buses were full due to the holiday. Unfortunately, riding in the tow truck turned a 5 hour drive into almost 8hrs. All is well that ends well! At least that's what they say.

The International Protestant Church had a Christmas program in Turkish. This was an opportunity for people to bring their Turkish friends to hear a clear presentation of the Good News. My helper joined me. There was a small choir that sang, a man gave his testimony, and there was a message. The program clearly presented why God sent His son Jesus to earth. I think there were about 300 people there. It was standing room only. At the end of the program they gave all the guests a book in Turkish about the meaning of Christmas and a CD of Turkish Christian music. My helper was impressed with the program. Be in prayer, that God would use what people heard that night to change their lives.

Again Happy New Year to all of you! I pray that God would show you more of His grace this year as you live your life in faith to Him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blood Everywhere!

Here is a quick cap of the Sacrifice Holiday. According to the news there were 2,555 wounded over the holiday. This is largely due to the fact that most people don't know how to go about killing an animal with just a knife. So people's hands, arms, and legs get cut. Also there is the animal factor. It doesn't really like to be tied up so there were a lot of people wounded by kicks from animals. The news showed almost everything except the slice of the animals neck. The city only allows the animals to be killed in a specific place. You can probably imagine blood was everywhere. There were little boys playing with cow heads, men skinning animals, etc... Nothing for the squeamish. It reminds of the sacrifices that God called for in the Old Testament. It was not a glorious job that the priest had. They had to kill the sacrifice and blood no doubt flowed. It was that blood that God required to cover man's sin. I'm glad we don't have to sacrifice anymore. The blood of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice, put an end to the sacrifice of animals. Still, we live in a country where people either out of tradition or for religious purposes sacrifice. They don't believe in the sacrifice that Jesus made.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Website! Crazy Day!

I know it has been forever since I've blogged. I have a lot to catch up on. Also continue to check in on the blog. I'm going to put some videos of Braxton's 1st birthday party. There is a website called Yasam Sozu that we would like for you to visit. We know you can't read it, but you can see what you think about the general look of it. Right now it allows people to download the written or audible Bible, they can also read the Word, and get a copy of a New Testament if they'd like. Please give us your opinions. We are praying that God would use it to allow us to disciple men and women all over this country.

Now the crazy day. God blessed us with the ability to acquire a vehicle. This car needed an inspection. Now everywhere you go in this country you have to wait but I think this is a little excessive. I got up and was at the inspection place by 6:30. Already I was 148 in line! I'm not joking. The first hour of waiting was calm. At about 7:30 my entire day changed. I got some water laid my car keys on the seat and shut the door. I didn't push a thing. My doors automatically locked. Uh Oh! I was in trouble. Immediately I called the locksmith. He got there but the line had already started moving. I lost valuable places in line. I was the show. 20 Turkish men gathered round to tisk tisk me with there voices while watching the locksmith. The locksmith got the door opened and robbed me in the process. Not really! It seemed like it though. Long story short. I waited from 6:30 in the morning until 6:00 p.m. at night to get my car inspected. There were some bright spots to the day. I can't believe that God allowed me to wait 12 hrs. in vain.

I spoke Turkish all day. That is wonderful.
I made some new friends. After waiting 12hrs. with a bunch of guys you learn a lot about one another.
I was able to share a simple meaning about what it means to be a Christian.
I made it on TV for the second time. The reporters asked me if I had ever seen anything like this and what it was like in America. I told them and at 8:00 p.m. that night I and my friends were on the news.
A man spotted me 70 turkish lira. I didn't have enough since I had to pay the locksmith. This was a bright spot and quite possibly the reason God allowed me to wait for 12 hrs. This man helped me with the entire process. We will see what God wants to do with the relationships that were made.
If nothing else God taught me a big lesson in patience.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another one on the way!

Angie is 7 weeks pregnant! We went to the doctor today and heard the baby's heartbeat. Please keep Angie and the baby in your prayers.

Circular Argument

Yesterday my teammate and I went out together to talk to some security guards that he had met. They are a bit of a captive audience as they have no other place to go. So they were bashing America and saying lots of other meaningless things, when I told them all of the bad things that happen in the world are because people have a heart problem. This got us on the topic of 'religion'. They immediately said the Bible has been changed. I told them no it hasn't. I showed them what Jesus said in Matt. 5:17&18. They were surprised that I had the Bible with me. So I told them if the Bible has been changed, tell me when, who, how, and why. They said they would bring their Koran tomorrow and we could bring our Bibles. It was a duel. We set up some rules where they spoke for 30 minutes and we said nothing, then we would speak for 30 minutes and they wouldn't say anything. They didn't follow the rules, but we were respectful.

So today we met. They started. They went way over their 30 minute timetable. They read a lot of different verses trying to claim that the Koran says the Bible has been changed. Actually the Koran doesn't say that. It says that Jews and Christians have distorted God's Word with their tongues. Nothing about physically changing it. Now for my partner and I the point was not to argue but get to the Gospel message. Here is what I laid out to them: First I just talk about how powerful God is. Then I said:
God cannot change.
You can't separate God's Word from God. So God's Word can't change.
The Bible hasn't been changed.
They responded that God allowed the Bible to be changed so that He could send a better book. I told them that then makes God like man. Almost as if God said, "Oh, this book is no good. I need to do a better job." I said many other things, but there's no need to list all of them. Anyway, they just kept going around and around with the same argument. It was actually very irrational at time. I just wanted to go on to what I had prepared to teach them. Actually one of my friends uses this method. I wanted to show them the principle that Jesus taught that the Law, Psalms, Prophets, and N.T. were actually one book. I then would go through the principle of why the prophets sacrificed. They took a lot of time without letting me talk. Finally I said, you have been talking for hours. It's my turn. They admitted that they had taken my right. So finally I was able to present this principle. God encouraged me because there were three guys that came and listened who were not workers. This is really the reason I shared this presentation. I was fed up with the guys I had met. I didn't want to cast my pearls to the pigs. The other men men listened. One guy kept interrupting me asking me why we don't sacrifice anyone. This was the exact point that I wanted to make. I promised him, if he would listen I would tell him. I don't know what God will do with His Word. We hope to go back regularly to let them talk to show them that they don't really have that much to talk about. At the same time, we want to communicate Christ to them. Pray that God's Word would fall on good soil. I'm so glad that as Peter said, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy..." The Holy Spirit gave me such joy as I reached the conclusion when John says, 'Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." I then asked them if they thought Jesus would agree with John's witness. Some said no. In Matthew 20:28 Jesus said that He came to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Enough said!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Prayer Requests

I am so glad that God cares for His children and knows exactly what they need. The Lord knew I needed some encouragement and this week has been just that. I visited the area where we first lived when we came to this city. It's about 40 minutes from where we live now. I have some friends there. We began talking about how life was going. We made our way around to what Christians believe about fasting. I explained what the Bible says. My friend told me I was number 1, and the only thing that would be better was if I were Muslim. He told me he didn't want me to burn. I told him the same. It sounds weird but were friends we can talk like that. Anyway, I explained to him and the man listening that what I tell them is not my own theory. It is from the Bible. We talked about many things. In the end, my friend asked me if I could give him a Bible as a gift. Of course I told him I could. That is the prayer request. I'm praying that he will be willing to meet regularly to study what he will read. So that was just God reminding me that He is still at work.

I had another great opportunity today to explain why we needed Jesus to give His life for our sins. My language helper started asking me all kinds of questions about what is different about the Bible and the Koran. What an opening. I wish I was articulate enough in Turkish. He repeated to me what I was trying to say. So at least he understand. Pray for this also. He's one of my language helpers. So we spend a lot of time together.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More from Our Trip

So just to remind you this is news about a trip my partner and I took to the south of the country. Just as God was with us when we went and visited our first city, he was with us on the second. At first, I thought we would not get to meet anyone on the second leg of our journey. I couldn't contact anyone who was actually in the city we went to visit. We decided to visit Tarsus. The home of the Apostle Paul. The information they gave about Paul was very accurate. We visited his well and the supposed area where he lived. Don't ask me how they know this. So it wasn't until the morning that we were on our way to the next city when I got a call from a man we wanted to talk with. Our friend from the church we had met in the previous city had given a local pastor my number. He met us in the city we visited and talked with us and answered our questions. This city probably has a population over 650,000 people and has a university that has 23,000 students. Many people migrate from the east of the country, so the culture is a mix of ethnic Turks, Kurds, and even Arabs. This is definitely a city that needs more work in it. The highlight of the trip was to be able to sit down with 3 young Turkish believers. These were teenagers from 17-19. We sang hymns, prayed, and even played UNO with them. Talk about so weird UNO rules, they had them. We asked them some questions. I asked particularly if they thought there was a fear among their countrymen to even ask questions about the Gospel, Bible, and Jesus. They said that there is fear. Fear that they will lose their job, be disowned, or general persecution. This fear can be so hindering that they feel it is better if they just don't talk about it. The exciting thing is that there are those who despite fear, God has gripped their heart and they step out and find the truth that is in God's Word. Pray for us. We desire to be in the city where God wants us.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Some News from Our Trip

Ok so five days ago my partner and I got back from a trip down south. The Lord was really with us. We tried to set up meetings before we left but nothing worked out. We arrived in our first town at 6:30 a.m. It was about 95 degrees with what felt like 100 percent humidity. At that hour nothing was happening. So we got a ride to the city center and begin walking around. Blindly we walked. Come to find out we were walking in the right direction. We had some news that there was a church in the area so we made our way there and the door was open. We walked in and they were meeting were prayer. Great timing! We met the believers there. We prayed with them and then we talked for quite some time. There pastor was the first Latin American to come to the country. He's from Mexico. He has been here fifteen years. God has used him to establish three churches and help build another one. I was really excited to meet him because a Peruvian pastor has been in contact with me. He has a huge burden for this country. This is a matter of prayer. It was a huge encouragement to see God using people from the Latin American culture to reach this country. The pastor we met with feels that people from Latin and South America can more easily adapt to life here than Americans. Isn't it great to see God using people who were influenced by missionaries and now they are taking the Gospel to other countries. The pastor answered all our questions and was quite encouraging. The city he works in has about 1.5 million people. There is good work going on, but plenty to be done in this area. There are many details, I will try to write about the rest of our trip soon.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Excitment and Disappointment

My partner and I just got back from a whirlwind tour of some of the southern part of the country. It was quite a trip. One city included Tarsus, the birthplace of the Apostle Paul. I hope to get some pictures up and share some more information with you. Needless to say we learned a lot about the region. We also met some men who are doing good work. One city we visited has a population approaching one million with a university of 23,000 students. There is quite a need there. This is a matter of prayer for us. We want to be where God wants us. I'll share more later.

The disappointment. I finally found a Turkish pastor who was willing to let us attend his church. I was really excited about this as it is really hard to attend a Turkish church if your a foreigner. This is one of the few churches I know that is rather conservative in this city. Unfortunately I received an email saying that someone with a church that helps them is coming to work in the country and for this reason they don't want to many foreigners. So we got the boot so to speak. Of course, we are disappointed. We rest in the fact that God knows what's best. I don't know what He is doing. He is working though, because a door that I thought was open He shut. Please keep us in your prayers.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Let me Explain

Anywhere in the world where ministry is done, there must be an effort to find the people that God is preparing to receive His word. Many times we use the term 'fishing' for this. In a country like this you must sow the seed to hundreds, thousands, and millions to find those people who are questioning. We have had some opportunities of late to do some basic outreach. One way has been through a survey. It is a simple survey with about 5 quotes from the Bible. The survey is about personal improvement and the Holy Book(Bible). The aim of the survey is to point people to a website if they want more information.
Another opportunity we had was to simple take some guitars and sing hymns for the Psalms. Especially those written by David. We went with a friend who has been in the country for a long time and just simply asked people if they new anyone who was sick or needed encouragement. We ended up singing to a group of five. It was a great way to sing of how God is our salvation, helper, protector, etc...
I'd love to hear if you have any creative ways to help reach people!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ok with Hell

It boggles my mind. How could anyone be ok with going to hell. My friend and I were talking with a young man. He was 21 years old. He started talking about the Bermuda Triangle. In Turkish it is called Satan's Triangle. I asked what he thought would happen if he flew over the Bermuda Triangle. He said he would probably die. So I asked him if he was sure where he would go after he died. He said no, but probably hell. He commented that he drank alcohol, had relations with girls outside of marriage, etc... all of which were sins. He didn't even blink. It didn't even seem to bother him. Which just flabbergasted me. I know that the Holy Spirit uses what we say and even what we don't say to plant seeds or convict hearts. Right now I'm wondering what we can do to get people like this begin to think about eternity seriously. There are so many people in this city who are following the god of materialism and they are ok with the fact that they are going to Hell.

What Are You Living For?

Today Nelson Mandela turned 90. It has been all over the news. I don't know how you feel about Mr. Mandela's accomplishments. He is known for many things, which we won't get into. Everyone is singing his praises, and maybe he deserves some. I must give the man some credit. At 90 he is still speaking and fighting for what he believes in. Oh, that Christians would fight as hard as this man has fought for what he believes in. He is fighting for a lesser cause. We have a high calling. We have good news. The best news that anyone could ever hear. Yet, in comparison to the zeal that Mr. Mandela has shown fighting for human rights, I wonder if we are found lacking. What are you living for? What are you spending your time on? We have the opportunity to lay up treasures in heaven, and to bring praise to the living God. May we be found faithful in the work of the Lord.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Update

It's been a while since I've updated all you thousands who read this:) God continues to bless. We continue to work on our language. It's exciting to be able to go deeper into the Gospel message with contacts we have. Pray that we would have boldness in our witness. God has allowed us to learn some things from some people who have been here a while. We are eagerly anticipating trying some things that we have learned. We have also been blessed to be able to rent an office. We should be able to begin using this next month. We have started a blog in Turkish. One, to help us with our Turkish and two, maybe people will stumble across it. I'm not sure if I mentioned it on the blog, but there is a website in the works. Be in prayer for this. We have some people committed to helping us with it. We want to honor the Lord with this site, as it will be all about His Word. I would like to put a plug in for my language helper. He is a Turkish believer, and has great skills. If you need any kind of web design work done, and you would be interested in having my friend help, let me know. I can send you his blog. He has some of the things that he has designed on his blog.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ephesus Update 3- Opportunity

Well being in the region we were in, we were surrounded my biblical history. The city of Izmir where you can fly into then bus or drive down to Ephesus is the biblical city of Smyrna. The rest of the churches we read about in Revelation on all relatively close to this area. This gives one a great opportunity to talk about the Bible. While waiting at a gas station because Angie's flight was delayed 2 hrs., I spent time talking with two of the employees. The one man had a biblical name. He began to ask me if I was a Muslim. I told him no and he asked what I was. I told him I was a Mesihci(Mesee-je), or follower of Christ. I learned this from the two believers we met at the camp we worked at. Many people use the word Christian but in this country it carries baggage with it. He didn't know what a Mesihci was so he asked me to explain so I did. Well long story short he is a young married man with a young child and he invited me over for dinner while I was waiting. He and his wife asked me if I had ever considered becoming a Muslim. I told them no. I explained that the only way to heaven is through Jesus. He asked if I thought the Koran was Holy and if Muhammad was a prophet. I told him according to God's Word the answer was no to both questions. I had a great opportunity to share what we believe from the Bible on how we get to heaven and why good works can't save us. In the end, he gave me a Turkish Koran, which I was ok with, because that gives me the opportunity to give him a present, God's Word! I don't think it was an accident that we met. Pray that God would give us more opportunities to visit him.

Ephesus Update 2- What we saw




So we stayed at the camp and worked three days. After three days of hard work, it was refreshing to be able to visit the Turkish church there. It was really cool to think about that we were in a house church in Ephesus. So after working Angie and Braxton met me and we stayed 2 days, and visited the ruins of Ephesus. It was amazing to be standing there in a city that Paul had spent so much time in, and he wrote such a great letter to the people there at Ephesus. The ruin site is huge and covers a lot of area. The amphitheater behind us is said to have held 25,000 people. Above is a picture from the top of the ruin site. I could try to describe it, but it wouldn't do it justice. What was really cool was on Monday morning before we left the camp we were at we took a hike up the hills behind the camp. When you reach the top you have a beautiful view of the Aegean Sea and of the amphitheater in Ephesus. If you like history, and seeing historical sites, Ephesus is a great site. Furthermore, it really brings the New Testament and the apostle Paul's journeys to life. They even have little statues of Diana, the god of the Ephesians, that you can purchase. So what all this means is you should plan on coming to visit us and you can also visit Ephesus.

Ephesus Update 1-What I Learned

We just got back from the Aegean Sea region. A group of men, 4 in all, went to work for three days at a summer camp. This camp was shut down by the authorities last year because they said they weren't up to code, which usually doesn't matter unless your a Christian camp. So I and my teammate and 2 other men were able to help a little bit with the repairs that they needed. I and my teammate like to practice our Turkish whenever we can. There were two believing men that work at the camp that we were able to talk with. So the first thing that I learned is that the majority of the people come to Christ the same way. I see this more and more as I meet believers and talk with them. For some this process may only be 2 weeks for others though it could be months. First, their faith is in question. They have heard about Jesus and don't understand. Whether it is from someone asking them questions about Christ or their own questioning, something makes them begin to think. Many times this is because a family member or friend has trusted Christ and they began to wonder about this. Next, they began to watch the Christians that they have met. This is a problem because many people don't know a true Christian. They watch and see if that person's life matches what they say. Throughout this time the gospel is being explained to them, by the Christian that they have met. God opens their eyes and they are saved. The two men that we talked said that the love that the Christians showed them made a big impact in their lives. The first time they visited the Christians made them feel liked they belonged.
Now here are some of their observations about foreign Christians in the country or people that visit:
1. They need to show respect to God's Word. Many Americans put their Bible under their seat or pew or in front of them on the ground, but if it is God's Word it needs to be treated with respect.
2. The need to show respect for God's Day. This was directed more to people that visit their camp. Many times they come and visit and come to the services dressed in shorts and t-shirts. When Muslims go to worship, especially on Friday, they are always in nice clean clothes.
So needless to say I love talking to the Turkish believers and getting their opinions on all kinds of topics. We helped them with some work and they helped us with our Turkish. Once again we see that how you live is much more important than what you say.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A New Day



Today is a Turkish Holiday. It's a day that they commemorate their founder, Ataturk, landing in Samsun and beginning their War for Independence. Today is also the beginning of a new law. Smoking is band in public spaces, and if people throw their cigarettes to the ground they can be fined. Hoooooooray, no more smelling like a smoke factory just because we went out to eat. Here is a small language note. You don't smoke cigarettes in Turkish; you drink them. Sigara icmek!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just a Servant

I was reminded this past week through my devotions that I'm a servant of Jesus Christ. I like to plan and scheme and try to tell God how I would like things to go. This isn't the way it should be. This is a portion taken from a devotional I've been reading.

"The servant carries out the master's will. The servant doesn't tell the master what to do. The servant does not choose which task to perform for the master, nor does the servant suggest days or times when it would be convenient to serve the master. The servant's function is to follow instructions. The master, on the other hand, gives directions. The master does not tell the servant to develop a vision that will guide the master. The master is the one with the vision;the servant's task is to help fulfill the master's purposes.
We are the servant; God is the Master. We tend to try to reverse this! God's revelation of Himself, His purposes, and His ways depends directly upon our obedience. He may not reveal today His intentions for the next five years, but He will tell us what our next step should be. As we respond to God's revelation, He will accomplish what He desires, and He will be the One who receives the glory.

Our fulfillment comes from serving the Master..."

This was further brought home to me as I read Matthew 13:37&38, "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world."

It's not my job to come up with some vision. The Master already has a vision. As a servant, I need to catch the Master's vision. His vision is for the world.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rolling Over

Alright here is some video of "The Show" also known as Braxton. I will try not to bore with too many home videos, but for those of you who won't get to see him grow up here is a short clip of him rolling over.


video

video

This is video of Braxton in his walker. As you can see he loves it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

4 years

Today is Angie and I's 4th anniversary. Since I have to teach English tonight, we celebrated yesterday. We rented a car and went to a small city called Beypazari. It was good to just be out and see some new scenery other than concrete buildings. Braxton stole the show again. His new nickname is The Show. We probably had about 8 people come up to us and ask us if they could take his picture. The Turks just love kids, especially chubby ones. I'll try to post some pictures soon. I'm thankful to have the wife and family that God has given me. Most importantly I'm thankful that Angie is willing to do what God has asked us to do. A woman's role in God's work is always important, but it is even more so here. She has dealt with culture shock and "baby shock" this past year. I'm grateful that she even deals with "Justin shock" everyday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Whole Health

Recently I met with a friend of mine whom I met one night playing soccer. He and I haven't seen each other in some months. He told me his wife was really sick and the doctors didn't give her much hope. Just to look at his wife you wouldn't know anything was wrong. She has a growth on her brain. It's not cancerous, but it is causing water to build-up around her brain. She has constant headaches. We really wanted to visit with this family and talk with her about what is going on in her life. We didn't have much of an opportunity to talk with her as her little daughter was by her side. I was hesitant to bring up death because I didn't know if they had talked to their daughter about this. I did however get to talk with the dad. According to his own words, he is a humanist. This world is as good as it gets. He said that he and his wife had cried the past 10 days over the situation. I gave him a New Testament, and told him that in this book he could study about Jesus and all that he did, and that he could find peace. He said that he just wanted to save his wife. It reminded me that Jesus wasn't just concerned with a persons physical health, he wanted them to have spiritual health. He loves to read. We are praying that he would read it and that as he does we will be able to talk to he and his wife about Jesus' saving grace.
He also gave me some x-rays of her brain. He asked me if I could get any advice from a brain surgeon. I told him I wasn't sure if I would be able to do anything because I don't know any brain surgeons. I told him that I would try. If it were my wife I would want someone to try. If any of you that read this happen to know anyone in this field of medicine, would you please contact me. I know it is a lot to ask of a surgeon, but this man knows nothing about malpractice and such. He just wants to know if it is as serious as the doctors here tell him. Surgery is risky, but there might not be another alternative. Pray that God would touch her heart about where she will spend eternity. Physical health is a blessing. How miserable it would be to have no physical or spiritual health. What hope would there be?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

English for Meeting People

Well I've talked about using our son Braxton to meet people. We are also using our native tongue, English, to build relationships. Angie and I along with our partners were interested in building more relationships with the Turkish people who are learning English. I have been hesitant to do this because I didn't want to speak too much English while trying to learn Turkish. I still don't like to speak too much English, but our team decided to start meeting one day a week with any of our English speaking Turkish friends who wanted to practice their English. I've been able to invite some students from the school where I teach English and our partners have done the same. So far our highest number is 2. We have had a good time. We have met the past two weeks now and we are hoping the same people come each time so that we can really build good friendships. I'm so glad I speak English!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What an Ugly Baby


What? Did you just call my baby ugly? Yes that's exactly what they do here. At first one might be taken back at the comment of one's child being ugly. Don't be too upset though. It's supposed to be a compliment. See if your baby is cute and everyone is looking at it, that could cause envy in someone else. So to keep evil spirits away, they look at your baby and say that they're ugly. How thoughtful! Obviously we believe that God protects our baby. Don't be surprised if you come and visit and they tell you your baby is ugly.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fatalism

There is a new game show on Television these days. It's called Var misin, Yok Musun. It's a lot like Deal or No Deal in the U.S. While watching this program you will hear the contestant and everyone else who they talk to say Insallah (inshallah) about 1000 times. The word means if God wills or pleases. One of the fundamental beliefs that Muslims are supposed to adhere is Fate. They are to believe that God is the source of both evil and good. So whatever happens basically comes from God whether good or evil. What strikes me is that in this game show you can tell most people don't really believe it. I know we say things out of habit just as people here say Insallah out of habit. For a Muslim though this is supposed to be one of their major beliefs. For instance a lady took the offer from the bank for 40,000YTL instead of continuing the game. Well of course they open her box to find that she had the box which would have given her 250,000YTL. Oh, the drama! She was crying. Family members were crying. I could hardly bear it. The point is if you believe in this extreme fatalism as Muslims are supposed to, why does it matter what amount the other box had? This view spills over to every part of a Muslims life. Life is so cheap here. Could you imagine resigning yourself to the fact that you were going to spend some time in Hell? Unless of course you die as a martyr or convert someone to Islam. Friends that I have talked to have no problem with the fact, as they believe, everyone will spend some time in Hell. Why? Because Allah wills it. God loved the world so much that He sent the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for sin. I know this, God wants to save people from every 'kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation' Rev. 5:9 This includes Muslim nations. That is what God wills and pleases.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Another Year of Life

Well I turned 27 last Friday, Jan 18th. My twin brother also turned 27. Go figure! I'm thankful that God has allowed me to live this long. I have been having a problem with Blogger on my computer. I can't get to the site. So I'm sorry it's been a while since you have heard from us. Looking back over my 27 years God has given me some great opportunities. One of the biggest privileges he gave me was allowing me to be born in the United States of America. It's a land filled with opportunities to hear and read the Gospel of Christ. God saved me. I was born again at the age of 10. I have two birthdays. I didn't have to worry about being alienated from my family. I didn't have to worry about people telling me I wasn't American because I believed in Christ. I didn't have to fear for my life because I became a Christian. What a privilege. Yet everyday in this country, this is exactly what believers in Christ face. I would like everyone to please pray for my language helper. He is a believer and has been through everything that I mentioned above. At this time, he can't find a job. Although perfectly qualified, no one wants to hire him. Pray that through this he and his wife's faith would remain and that God would supply a job for him. Whether it is here or in another country. He and his wife have been a great blessing to us. We are praying that through my language helper's life God would give the other Turkish believers courage to serve Him.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

One Year ago...


Exactly one year ago today Angie and I left the United States headed for Turkey. Ohio State also lost the National Championship Game to an SEC team before we left. Somethings never change! For Angie and I much has changed. We have a new home and baby, and are learning Turkish. We thank God for the past year that He has given us in Turkey. He has touched and worked in our lives and I believe He is working in the lives of some of our friends. It appears that the friends that we have made here in Turkey are becoming more comfortable with us. We can talk about anything with them, including Jesus. In fact, most of the time people bring up Jesus and we're able to explain what we believe. I thank God for this. When we arrived many of the people we met had a lot of questions and they still do, but now it seems that our friendships our growing. I was asked again if I was going to become a Muslim yesterday. Some guys I met when I first arrived asked me. We've been through this before, but they had a new guy with them. One of the guys told me that to become a Christian I believed I needed to be baptized. I said no I... but before I could spit it out another young man standing by me said, "No he believes Jesus paid for his sins on the cross, and he's going directly to heaven." I'm glad someone's been listening. This led to a big discussion. It was fantastic and great practice for my Turkish. We are wanting God to use us to do impossible things this year. We know without faith it's impossible to please God. Pray with us that God would continually increase our faith as we seek to do His will.