I probably could write a whole blog on each day, one on the people, one on the food and finally one on the tragic people of the valley and why they are now so open to the Gospel. But I think I will try to just keep this one simple and recap God's working each day. Before I start the pictures above are just a few of the pictures of the multitudes I took of the area.
Day 1(Tuesday): David and I got up and headed out to visit families (Believers), there are over 300 New (and I do mean NEW) Believers in the city of Hatay. As we were leaving, we were waved down by a man who wanted us to have tea with him. Of course we stopped, it would be rude to not. After drinking a little of our tea, he said there was something different about us and he wanted to know what...so we did the only thing we could and told him what makes us different. What a way to start the day...Expansion in Heaven. So we gave him lots of reading materials and then set up a time to visit him on Thursday, which we did. Then we went to meet Oskurt, a new and bold Believer who is sharing the Gospel with everyone in his coffee shop. Then we went into the center of Antioch to meet with a man who owns a Christian bookstore and coffee shop. Of course there we were able to share again with a few more and they followed right along with what we were saying and were in agreement. Then we went to meet Ahmet, I will tell you about him when I recap Thursday. Of course my now it is 630 pm and we are having dinner with Asfuk and Amil and their family (more new believers). Here is their story: David had shared Jesus with them and they were interested but they were not sure. So David just told them that God would show them the truth and well HE DID! Asfuk got hurt at work and could walk or stand up straight. They called and said, please come and pray for us because if Asfuk doesn't work, things will get really bad. There was a group from, I think Oklahoma here and they went with him to their home. Asfuk was laying there, could not stand up and the pain was excruciating. So they started to pray and Asfuk jumps up and starts moving all around with no pain. When he tells the story, you can just see him and his wife and the Holy Spirit all around them. So dinner lasted until really, really late but food was good, and so was everything else.
Day 2(Wednesday): Again we headed out with the best intentions to do some planning with the group, but to also meet with New Believers as we go. We headed to one of the ruins in the area where we know the Believers live. We got there and were again invited in for tea and fellowship. Within a few minutes, in walk this couple who want to meet us because their friend (or brother in law) had been talking about us coming. They wanted to know why we came...so we started talking and one thing led to another and BOOM, they said they wanted to know and have what Jesus was offering. New Believers!!! Then we went from there to meet with the head of another local village and when I mean head, I mean Leader. His name is Isa (which means Jesus in Turkish). This is an example of his leadership. The Mayor of the city called him and asked him to come and settle a dispute between people. So we spend pretty much the whole afternoon with him, visiting his family, looking at the area and of course talking about our Lord. At the end, he said; "You are my friends, your are my family and your are my Brothers, because of me and what Jesus has done for me, you can go anywhere in this area and share Jesus. And if you need I will open doors." Amazing!!! We also spent time with Oskurt, a Believer who could become a very instructmental part of IC and sharing in this area through our National to National projects. From there we went to visit another Believer and spend the evening with her and her family and of course I have already told you about Nareen.
Day 3 (Thursday): Now I need to tell you about Ahmet. We pretty much spent the day with him and his family: sharing, talking and of course drinking tea (lots of tea). This was the plan from the beginning because Ahmet and is family have taken the most aggressive and vocal stand of sharing about Jesus. Ahmet is a stone carver and I mean the old way with chisel and hammer. He has the name of Isa written on the fence that leads into his home and because of him, his whole family are Believers (I think my rough count is about a 100 people). We went from place to place meeting his family and then ended up with him at his home. He is such an aggressive Believer that I actually videoed him and can't wait to share it as soon as I get a tech person to assist me get it ready to go. It brought be to tears as we were completing it. We also went over to meet Medmat and his family. He broke his neck as a young man and thus is very handicapped. But his faith is amazing and he reads everything about Jesus and when he speaks about his injury, he says he does not know what God made him this way but he knows that God has a purpose and that God is using him. This was our early day, we got done around 9pm.
Day 4 (Friday): The final day. Sadness and lots of JOY were abundant. We said good bye to many friends but more than that we went to Amil's work (remember from day 1) and there we able to share with her boss and 4 others, under a tree about Jesus and they all GOT IT!!! Our final good-bye was to be with Ahmet before leaving and this is when I did the video. Tears, oh man, tears. But of course, he shared with me what he had and I walked away humbled, blessed and joyful. I can't wait to see him again. Finally as we started, we ended with Asfuk and Amil doing lots of laughing, praying, crying and more laughing. Such a wonderful time. I forgot to tell you, Asfuk thinks he is an American Indian and loves stuff from them...so when I come back I will bring him stuff.
This is the recap and I know it was long. Thank you for reading it, praying for it, holding it near to your hearts and supporting us so that I can do this. Forgive the typos because since my internet here in Istanbul is short, I wanted to get this out to you because you have been so faithful.