Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Shut Down But Not Silenced

From 4 to 15 April, our group of 12 left Istanbul and headed east for our first Turkey tour of 2018. We called this the DDUM Tour since our show consisted of Drama, Dance, Unicycling and Music.


Once we reached Malatya, we paused to rehearse at the church, then moved on to Tunceli with 6 bold and active church members who supported us for events in this part of the largest unreached country on earth.


We passed through several check points on our way to Tunceli, the last one at the entrance to the city where police thoroughly investigated our literature, equipment and passports. We had planned on doing spontaneous shows but after police videoed themselves telling us we could not perform without permission, our leaders went to work seeking approval. Amazingly they were quickly granted permission from all the necessary officials which led to some of the best events we’ve had in Turkey.

Two nights in a row we presented in Tunceli to over 800 people who were very open and interested in our presentation and we didn’t hear one complaint!





We had many great conversations with people eager to learn more about Jesus. After our first show, one guy who had been encouraged to ask God to show Himself, actually saw Jesus in a dream that night! Our friends from Malatya Church didn’t waste any time following up on dozens of interested people. They are really hoping to plant the first church in the city from those new contacts. Previous outreaches in Tunceli have been met with apathy and hardness so it was refreshing and encouraging to see so much receptiveness and be part of the special work God is doing there. Tunceli was a tour highlight for most team members.

Eleven years ago, 3 Christians were martyred in Malatya. God has turned tragedy into good and this is now one of the easiest cities for workers to serve, since the city is trying to repair their negative reputation. We presented at the Malatya Church for their Easter Outreach. It was a cozy space so we adapted our show but still had the opportunity to encourage church members and help connect 20 new people.

  

In an unprecedented request, we were thrilled to be invited to teach Christianity through seminars and our show at a school in Viran┼čehir. Though our team drove 5 hours on hilly, windy roads just for this event, the school made excuses and cancelled the event the night before and try as they might, our leaders were unable to obtain permission for any replacement show. A Malatya church member had driven an additional 5 hours to seek permission to present in Ovac─▒k since a policeman who worked there had seen us perform in Tunceli and wanted to help us get permission to perform in his town. Permission was granted on all levels and the municipality even offered to promote our show over loud speakers! However, another official learned of our plan, stating he “knows who we are”, complained to the governor and managed to get all permissions thrown out the window.

We felt a bit deflated, but we know things don’t come easily when we are directly attacking the enemy’s strongholds and dealing with officials who hate what we are doing. Though we were denied performing in a few cities, team members still took opportunities to share Jesus with people they met along the way, so not all was lost.

In Ankara, Turkey’s capital, we presented late at night downtown after the police had gone home. Church members, many of whom are new believers, were very excited to help us present in their community.


Team members had very meaningful, personal conversations with individuals whom God seemed to have prepared for that moment. Though we had a small crowd and our show wasn’t in the best part of town, God reminded us that Jesus came for the drunks, rose sellers and cheaters. This evening showed us some of His generous heart and the lengths He will go to reach people.

We drove back to Istanbul for our final shows. After one by the seaside, we presented without incident to interested people, but afterward police came in a huff and detained us as they looked at our literature. The finally let us go but not before cursing and spitting at a team member.



To wrap up the tour, we partnered with Life Church in a bustling, wealthy area of Istanbul for 2 shows just below their church. Several hundred watched, no one complained, and some were interested in learning more about Jesus. The pastor said it was very inspiring for the church to see bold, public proclamation of the Gospel to the crowds they usually only see passing by below as they look out their window above.





In all we had the opportunity to share with over 1,500 people in 7 presentations. Turkey is a tough place to minister on a good day and with the state of emergency looming over people, it’s even harder. Police and passport checks became routine, we struggled with sickness and discouragement, and we just might be crazy for even trying to publicly share Jesus in Turkey. Yet we saw God at work and use our efforts to specifically reach people with His great love and truth, and that made it all worth it.

Please pray for:

-Those in Tunceli who saw our show and are now studying the Bible with believers. Pray that a church will be planted from these contacts.
-All those who heard the Gospel and received literature from us (police included) to grow in their understanding of God’s love.
 -Many more in Turkey to see dreams and visions of Jesus that will open their hearts to His salvation.
-Churches in Malatya, Ankara and Istanbul to continue to make bold efforts to reach their community with the Gospel.