Sunday, December 20, 2009

Interesting Day

It seems like every time the Turkish pastor leaves something interesting happens. We had 8 students come in this morning. They were doing a report for the sociology class and wanted to video our services. So I said sure go for it. After the service they wanted to ask us questions. So myself and some of the young people answered their questions. I was very pleased with the way our young people handled themselves and answered questions. They were talking with students from their same university. Some of the questions were: As a Christian can you do all that you want in Turkey? Are their similarities in the Koran and the Bible? Have you been harassed for being a Christian? What do you think about missionary work? In all we talked with them for about an hour and a half. What was really nice is that after they stopped filming they asked more questions. Throughout the entire conversation the young people explained the gospel. God gave us a great opportunity to speak the truth to these students. What is even better is their university class is going to watch the videos. Thank God for this opportunity!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Some people have a hard time getting along with their mother-in-law's. Others have no problem. Being 6,000 miles away from my mother-in-law, I definitely don't have a problem. Here many women live with their mother-in-law. Of course in the matriarchal hierarchy she's the ruler. My wife has made friends with a lady. So she came over to visit with Angie. Along with her came her mother-in-law. According to Angie it was constantly telling her daughter-in-law what to do. The subject turned to Jesus and the Bible. Angie's friend was asking normal questions. The mother-in-law definitely wanting to put an end to these questions spoke up as an authority about the Koran and the Bible. This is where you see a huge different in cultures. Angie, the American, has respect for elders, but if they are wrong she will say something. Which she politely told the woman what the Bible says about itself and Jesus. A Turkish woman on the other hand would not dare say anything against the mother-in-law. Even if she's wrong. So hopefully as Angie builds this friendship, the mother-in-law will not always tag along.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress

I've mentioned before that we studying Pilgrim's Progress with some college students. Some are believers some are not. I was really encouraged by yesterday's study. We had 7 students and they were all talking about what they thought about chapter 3. All I had to do was ask a question and they took care of the rest. The main reason we are doing this study is to help them grow in their faith. We want them to continue God's work in Turkey. One of the things we talked about yesterday was this: Christian was asked by one of his hosts in the Beautiful Palace about his family. He responded that he had told them about the judgment that was coming and that he had to get this burden removed from off his back. So the point we were talking about was witnessing to your family and close friends. Even though it is hard, if we truly love them we'll tell them the truth. One of the students brought up the point that the man that Christian was talking with said you are not responsible for them. He asked are we truly responsible for them? The fact is that Christian had told his family of the coming judgment but they made fun of him. He told them! We are not responsible for what people do with the truth, but we are responsible to tell them. The last point we talked about was what if God would allow us to see the people in Hell, in everlasting suffering, Jesus and the Gospel would be more frequently on our lips. We would think of any possible way to turn a conversation to the Gospel. I hope these thoughts will stay with you this week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good day...bit of a sad ending

I had an opportunity to preach at the fellowship we are learning from. The pastor is out of the country. Then this afternoon we began a study of the book Pilgrim's Progress with the college age students. Actually we just talked about the forward. It was all about the things that John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim's Progress, went through during his life. That led us into the topic of persecution and suffering in the Bible. We don't hear many sermons on it, but it is definitely in the Bible. One of the major things we talked about was how many people in our world die everyday. We stressed the eternity of suffering they will go through. With this in mind, we want to live our lives and maximize our time in a way that best glorifies God. After everyone had left, one of the girls came back and said that her dad, who was a Muslim, died when she was three. She asked, "What will happen to him....Is he in Hell?" It wasn't so hard for me to tell her the truth from the Word of God, but it made me sad. I thought, "She lost her dad when she was three. She has now believed in Jesus as her Savior. She'll never see her dad again." This is exactly the reason we preach the Gospel. So many people around the world have never been confronted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They've never even been made to think about whether or not what they believe is true. I hope that it will be a reminder to this young girl to share Christ with her family and friends. I know it was for me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Interesting Opportunity

Yesterday a university student came to the church that we are learning from. I invited him in. He explained that his friend's history professor in a city many hours from here had heard that there was a church in this city. The professor gave the student the assignment of finding out about this church. So the guy that I was talking with was helping his friend. He asked me about the history of the church. I told him. It was kind of anti-climatic for him, because the church doesn't have ancient history. Then the Holy Spirit brought a thought to my mind. So I told this young man that the book of Galatians was written to churches in the very region we are living in now. He was a little excited. I showed him the book of Galatians and he asked if he could have a copy of it. I copied the book of Galatians for him. Then he asked who Paul was. I explained that Paul was a really religious Jew who persecuted those that followed Jesus...and then I told him about Paul's conversion and how Paul went all throughout Turkey spreading the Gospel. I pray that the book of Galatians gets back to the history professor. Galatians, how ironic. The book that tells us that we cannot be saved by keeping the law. I also pray that whoever is doing this study will see the validity of the Bible.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Expecting Great Things

When things are going good do you stop and say "Oh something bad is bound to happen." Unfortunately I do. Maybe it is a lack of faith. It is like I'm waiting for the hammer to fall. Anyone that knows me knows I'm an eternal optimist. It is not necessarily that I'm thinking that something bad is going to happen. It is like I'm thinking this is too good to be true. Things have been going well since we moved to our new city. We are busy doing what we feel God wants us to do. God is blessing and sometimes I begin to think alright when are the hard times coming. As I thought a little more about it I just realized that it is just my thinking that is messed up. Who says God is not blessing in the hard times? Who says God is not blessing when things are as we say 'a little slow'? John Bunyan, the author of Pilrim's Progress, was imprisoned for 12 years. During that same time, many of his own congregation were imprisoned with him. He had the opportunity to continue teaching them while in prison. I think we all would say that prison would at the very least be a down-time in our service to God. That is not at all how reality was. It is our perspective that changes everything. "Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths." Psalms 25:4

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What are you doing for your generation

Last night we had a prayer meeting. One of the men who joined us was not a believer but it appears the Spirit is working in his life. My text was Psalm 78. This is a text that God put on my heart when I went to the 'Our Generation Summit' in 2004. There is a new Turkish film that tells the story of the men who built the first Turkish car. They had only 4 months to do so. They didn't have a factory or even the new technology of that day. They built this car and even today's generation knows this story. I thought about this and how these men worked so hard to finish the job they had to do. They did all this for something that will not matter in eternity. In Psalm 78 the writer tells the people to tell of God's wondrous works so that the generation to come might not be as the previous generation. The first generation that left Egypt was a faithless generation(Hebrews 3:10). The generation that Joshua led into Canaan was a fighting generation. Though not totally obedient they trusted God and drove out the inhabitants of Canaan. The crazy thing is that in Judges 2:10 you find that the next generation was a generation that forgot God. How can this be? There fathers saw God do so many great things. Do you want the generation of the future to set their hope in God? They need to hear of the wonderful works of our great God. That also means that we need God working in our lives so that we have something to tell future generations.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good News for work visas

Well I received an email yesterday with a link to an article. I've posted the link below. For those of you thinking about moving to Turkey, if this comes to pass it could potentially make life much easier. There is a new man who took charge of this department and he's making sweeping changes. The claim is that you will get a 'yes' or 'no' answer in a month. I waited over a year to find out they rejected me. Also if you notice what the article says, it claims that they don't want to leave much to individual employees to decide. This would be great. I heard in years gone by in regards to getting your work visa it was pretty much up to the guy reading your paperwork. We'll see what happens.

Good news for work visas

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lost a Hero

Today Bro. I.D. Riddick pastor emeritus of my home church went to be with the Lord. He was the pastor of our church for twenty years before he retired. He didn't really retired though. I didn't know much about him until he moved back to our home town and taught in our bible college. He was in his seventies at the time he taught. He loved going to yard sales. Not because he liked to shop but so he could witness. He couldn't go door-knocking with us so that was his way of passing out tracts and talking to people. He never stopped talking about how good God was and warning people about Hell. He loved people so much. He loved his church members. Even when he stepped on their toes they knew it was because he love them. He's rejoicing in Heaven now, but we will miss him. Pray for his wife. They were married 63 years.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Family Camp

Things are going well in our new city. Sunday we got back from a family camp. There were believers from three different Turkish fellowships there. The main speaker, who is also a pastor here in the country, has had a hand in starting each of the three fellowships. He is a Spanish man and has been here for 24 years! He came in 1985 and was put in prison 2 or 3 times. His longest time in the slammer was 16 days. Most people would have left after that. When he first came his sending church in Spain dispersed and he was left to the work of his hands to support his family. It was encouraging to see this man still in the country. Many who have not gone through what he has have left, but he no doubt following God, stayed! The camp was nice. We enjoyed meeting the Turkish believers. I always ask them their stories. One thing rings true in all of their stories. God's love and the love in the church affected them. I believe it was Jesus who said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Embarrassing moment

I'm sharing this with you because it has a good ending. I was doing some follow-up work today so I called a person with a name that I thought was a woman's name. Now everyone always says ask a national before you do something. So I asked my friends was this name a man or woman's name. They said it is a woman's name. I call this person and say, "Hello can I talk to Ms. Nikki?" "Who?" the guy on the other line says. "Ms. Nikki." "Miss?" He asks. "Yes! Nikki." I say. He says I'm Nikki but I'm not a Miss. Oops! Not really what you want to do when you're going to ask someone how they liked their book, but it broke the ice. The good news is that this young man from the southeast wants to meet a Christian. So I'm working on that. I'm glad he didn't get angry with me and hang up.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A young man named Hope's story

Here in this country Hope is a man's name. I have been in contact with this young man for about 2 weeks now. He requested some books from the website so we sent them. After that he wanted another book so that is when we started correspondence. He said that he already believes in Jesus Christ as his Savior. This is what he says happened after that. This is all according to him. I have no reason to think he would be making it all up. All of this took place in about a 4 month period. One day his mother put the Koran in front of him and he pushed it aside and pulled out his New Testament. His mother called for his father and his father hit him and broke his jaw. Later they sent him off to a different city to sit at the feet of the teacher at the mosque. He still didn't change his mind and he was kicked out of his house. He went to another city where his grandpa lives and his grandpa gave him some traveling money. Sometime after he left his uncle and his dad came with a gun to supposedly kill him(His grandpa told him this. He had already left). He told the military police but they said they wouldn't interfere in family matters. Throughout this period he was attending a fellowship in Istanbul. He then came to the city that we moved to. The day he came was the exact day I happened to be in the city getting the electric and water turned on for our new apartment. He was at a bible study the night we met. He couldn't find work in this city so he went back to his city to try to find work. This is the time he contacted the website. Keep in mind we didn't know each other. Not until two days ago did I realize this was the same guy I had met just weeks ago. Now we have been corresponding. I have tried to encourage him with scripture. He told me Romans 14:8 really influenced him. Look it up. It is a good verse to remember. He wanted to know what repentance meant. To the best of my knowledge I explained to him what repentance means. There is a totally different concept of the meaning of repentance in Islam. Please pray for courage and strength for this young man and that I could be an encouragement to him.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back in the modern world!

Wow! What did we do without phones and internet? We were without both for about a week and a half. We are getting settled into our new place. Not before some excitement. Sunday Angie had a kidney stone. She was in a lot of pain but thankfully it passed the same day. So Sunday night we made the drive to our new place. Here is a view from our balcony. We are on the tenth floor.

Braxton is fitting in nicely. He has already convinced the kids around here that he is crazy. I took him out to play and he ran around in circles for 15 minutes. He has been a huge help to me during the move. The pictures below tell it all. Oh yeah, by the way that is me he is sitting on.

We look forward to sharing this new city with you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


It has been a bit of a crazy week. We went to the city where we are moving to rent an apartment. I thought oh it will take no time. Well after three days, a whole lot of hauling babies around,and a minor accident in which a nice Turkish lady put a new red stripe down the side of our van, we found a place. It seems like there are a lot of families in the area. We are excited but there is a lot of work to do before the big move. If you a student reading this, you should really think about visiting. We are moving to a big university city. As I tell all students, you will be a rock star(not sure if that is a good think or not). Anyway you know English and your an American. This is a city of around 614,000 but that number increases almost 100,000 when the students are in university. Pray for us as we make preparations to move.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sharing others sorrow

It has been a pretty full two weeks. We've had friends from the states in and out of our house. I finally got some time to go visit some of my friends around the city. One of them is a man who works at a restaurant. We became friends because I always go there on my break from teaching English. His five month old son died. Apparently he got tangled up in his blankets and suffocated. I was shocked. I have a two month old myself. He made the comment, "My boy is in Heaven." I told him that I would pray pray for him. We talked about that when things like this happen everything else loses its importance. Later I thought, "He has the assurance that his son is in heaven, but he doesn't know if God will accept him." How sad! This was another reminder to me what a privilege it is to be accepted by God. The people we meet our lost souls. They are not just something to put in a prayer letter. They are not our projects. I think about some of the ministry that I have done and how reckless I've been. It is not right to barge into someones life so that you can make a friend or so that they can come to church or ride a bus etc... and not be there when they are hurting. If we truly care for their souls we will be there when it really matters. Many times God chooses to use those difficult circumstances in peoples life to give us an opportunity to show the love of Christ to them. Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide me as I continue to talk with this man.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Who are you fooling?

This is just a note for anyone who reads this and is afraid of working in what some call closed countries. Many people are afraid that people in the country they work will find out that they are a Christian worker(missionary). They go to extravagant measures to be sure to look like a true business man or something else. Even if you are a legitimate business man they will still not believe you. The fact is people already assume what you are. Everyone is a missionary for some cause or another, and every major religion(Islam, Buddhism, etc...) has missionaries. I am pretty open with people that I know. So I was at work today and my boss who is Turkish told one of my students while we were in class that I was a 'misyoner.' Now the only thing that I have ever told my boss was that I want to teach the Bible to Turkish people. Now I don't use the term because people don't associate it with a person that loves God and wants to proclaim his message to others. My boss did use the term. I told him that I don't use that term, but that I want to tell people about what the Bible teaches. The people in what some call closed countries need to see that people who love God and want to preach His message are not threats. The more open you are the better. Of course there are times when you don't tell just anyone everything. Jesus did this many times. If you remember the Pharisees asked by what authority He performed his works. He told them that if they answered his question he would tell them. So he asked them if John's baptism was from heaven or of men. They didn't answer Jesus and He didn't answer them(Matthew 21:23-27).We don't waste our words with people who aren't interested. With those who are interested we show them our hearts.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Law

I was talking today to one of my friends and telling him why I love the book of Galatians. Why do I? Because Paul defends salvation by grace. Why do people want to be tied to the laws of their religion? Jesus completed the law. That is why we don't have to. So here is what I told my friend. The law is like a metro bus drive. These bus drivers follow the rules and that is it. If you are not at the bus stop when they stop they won't open the door. Yesterday the bus was stopped at a light and it was pouring rain. A man ran up to the bus to see if the bus driver would let him on the bus. No way! The bus driver didn't even think about it. Another time I saw this old woman. She was at least seventy. She didn't push the button to get off. She asked the bus driver to stop. No way! She didn't push the button. That is the law! There is no bending. No mercy. You either keep it all or you are guilty of all. With Jesus there is mercy. Just as many people are tied to their religion, Jesus wants us to be tied to him. Paul said this in Gal. 2:16, "...for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Planting Seeds

I was reminded some weeks ago about the power of the seed. A seed can sit on a shelf or in a bag or wherever for years and it is of no benefit. It won't bring forth fruit. However, if that seed is planted, that seed will die. When it dies it brings forth fruit. For a couple days last week I had the opportunity to spend time with a man who will be moving to Turkey and another young man who is praying about what God wants him to do. They explained to me some of the opportunities they have had planting the seed of the Gospel in this country. They can only speak with the English speakers in the country but God has allowed them to meet some great contacts to witness to. I'm sure that these people that they have met will continue to be great friends. This is what you want when people come into a country. Let them plant seeds so that those who remain can water and God will give the increase. We must be faithful planters of the Gospel, because Satan wants to steal those seeds that have been planted. Remember planting is not an easy job. You have to till the land, remove rocks, or in some countries boulders. After that you have to dig rows in which to plant the seeds. After all the hard work, what a great thing it is to see a stem pop up through the ground. Sometime later that seed which died matures and creates fruit with which you can plant more seeds.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


One part of serving in a country where there is not total religious freedom is using the correct words. I was reminded of this today. O group of men and I were able to talk to the head of a children's camp here in the country. He has to go to all the authorities and explain what he is doing. Here are a couple of examples: They can't use the word 'education' because that would mean the Ministry of Education would have to approve what they are teaching. Instead they used the word study. They can't call it a 'summer camp' so they have to call it a vacation or holiday excursion. Some churches which established themselves as foundations have had problems because they used the words Sunday 'school' which implies teaching. This means that the Ministry of Education would need to approve what they are teaching. The man who talked with us wanted prayer for his upcoming meeting with the authorities. One word could make a huge difference.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There are always opportunities

Once a week on Tuesdays there is a church that does an outreach in the city. They usually offer soup or tea for free form 2:00-5:00. Before everything starts we pass out some flyers. We want people to know there is a Turkish church in their area and that they can come and talk whenever they want. Here are some of the questions we get asked: "Why is it free?" "Do you get paid to do this?" "What is in the soup?"

Three young men showed up to eat some soup. One of them has been coming regularly. I asked them what they thought about the Bible. They told me that they had read it a little. One of them asked if the Bible had been changed. Now what they are taught here is that all the Christian elders got together at the first Council of Nicea which is Iznik, Turkey, and decided which books to include in the canon and which ones not to. Actually here the story is even worse. Many Turks will tell me that they stacked all the books on a table and the ones that fell off were not included in the canon. So before I came to Turkey I could have cared less about what happened at the Council of Nicea. We have to be ready to answer people. So I explained to this young man what really happened at the council of Nicea. It had nothing to do with the canon of the Scripture. I explained to him the congruency of the Bible. He actually wanted to stay longer and talk but his friends wanted to go. I hope to see him next week.

Yesterday I was sitting on a park bench studying when someone came and sat down by me. I didn't say anything, but about 5 minutes later this young man asked me what I was studying. I told him and he asked me how I make decisions in my life. This was an interesting question. I told him that I try to live by what the Bible says. Then he told me he was an atheist. This led to a long discussion about what happens after we die. I also explained to him why being good is not enough to be accepted by God. I hope to contact him again and talk some more.

God gives us opportunities to speak of Him everyday. We need to be sure we are ready.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It has been way too long!

I know it has been way too long since I've written. So I will not attempt to fill you in with what has been happening the past few months in one blog. I'll start with the most recent news.
We have another baby boy. His name is Blake Eren(similar to Aaron) He was born May 18, 2009. He was 8.1 lbs. and 19.5 inches. Praise God! He and his mother are doing great.
That same week I found out that because my college degree was not accredited the Ministry of Education denied my work visa. This means legally that I can't teach English without an accredited bachelors degree. This kind of through me for a loop.
At that time we were and we still are planning on moving to another city in the summer. I had planned on transferring to our companies branch there in the city that we would move to. So that idea is out.
I'm not sure how God is leading. I'm just trying to follow. After the news that I shared with you above, I decided maybe I should try to get a student visa by studying at university. So I crammed for the SAT. I hadn't done math in 10 yrs. A week and a half of studying wasn't enough to trigger my brain but it helped some. I took the test this past Saturday. I believe I did well enough to apply to university. Here are some thoughts I had after reflecting on what has happened.

1. I've taught English here for a year and a half. This job was no doubt from God. Why is it being taken away? Not sure, but since I had been teaching English I didn't have to worry about that part on my SAT!

2. Also had I not got the news that my work visa was denied two weeks before the SAT I would not have had a chance to take the SAT or apply to university.

3. I'm different. Some or you say, "Yes we know." As I sat in the classroom with 100 other students I thought about what they probably wanted. They wanted to get a good score so they could go to a good American university which in turn would help them make more MONEY. I don't want any of that. I want to tell them that there is more to life than money and things. I want to tell them about Jesus.