Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Turkey Wrap Up-Nice to be home

Turkey Wrap Up-Nice To Be Home!!!

    So here I sit, getting ready to tell you about the Turkey trip, how we saw God work, how He protected us and how the Kingdom was expanded.   I apologize it has taken me a few days to get this written, but the jet lag seems to get worse with each trip.  I still haven't rebounded but oh well, I need to exclaim what the Lord has done.
    The whole God's provision and protection started from the minute we were boarding the plane to head to Turkey.  As we were boarding our flight to Turkey from Chicago, 3 of us were pulled aside and told it was a random inspection check.  It is fantastic that Passport Control Officers  were doing their jobs and protecting our great country but wow does it ever do wonders for your nerves.  By the way I think we were the only three that were questioned.  The questions ranged from just about everything.  God allowed us to share exactly why we were going.  That we were sharing the Lord and that we were going to be encouraging the small number of new believers also.  They were just doing their jobs (Praise the Lord) but again we got nervous. 
    Once in Hatay,  Turkey we shared with everyone.  On the first day we attended a small House Church (churches are illegal) of about 14 people and worshipped the ALL MIGHTY in such a very special.  This day was spent primarily encouraging the Lord. 
     As the week progressed we were able to see 9 people make professions of faith and be able to baptize 2 more.  I found out later in the week that 3 new believers wanted to be baptized also but their schedules of school and work didn't work out.  9 people through this trip have now been assured an eternity with our Lord and Savior.
     One last story to share, which definitely is an example of God's Provision and Protection.  The team deemed this story, "63 Seconds."  On Monday evening we were told that there was a Kurdish Children's Refugee Camp where we could deliver winter clothing to.  The team was thrilled to be able to do this since it was only about 15 miles east of where we were.  This was suppose to happen at 2:30 on Tuesday.  Tuesday arrived, the van was loaded with clothing, toys and Bibles.  Soon after leaving we were told that instead of 2:30 it was going to be 4:00pm for the meeting and heading to the camp.  So we got to the meeting place at 4:00pm to find it was moved to 5:00.  So we had some coffee and got into a very deep conversation about demons, the enemy and how our God works.  Soon it was 5:19pm and we started our journey to the camp.  
          Quick note:  In Turkey, all stop lights are timed and the time is shown below the color.  Example:  green lights are 43 seconds long and red lights are 63 seconds long.
    We approached the last light before the camp on the inside lane, just as the light changed to red.  The countdown had begun.  As we watched the time count down, we noticed on the other side the light about a hundred feet ahead was a checkpoint.  Checkpoints mean identification checked and a visual inspection.  With what was with us, this probably meant a full on inspection.  But we knew that God was going to protect us.  The light counted down to 20 seconds and the phone rang.  It was the people we were meeting in the camp.  The Civil Police (CP) were there in the camp.  The CP had torn apart their car looking for anything.  In Turkey, it is wrong and not supported by the government to assist the Kurdish camps.  They had been questioned for about an hour.  They had nothing, we had everything.  The pentility for working in the camps has been severe.  Over the last few months, many of the workers have been told to leave the country and not return, the one thing in common is that they were assisting the camps.  So the light changed green and we did a U-turn and headed back to the hotel.  Here is where God's Provision and Protection was demonstrated to us.  If we would went at our first scheduled time, we would have been there when the CP came.  If we would have been there at 4:00pm, we would have been there when the CP came.  If we would have left at 5:00 pm and not 5:19, we would have been there when the CP came.  If we would have been there when the CP came, our contact would have been immediately kicked out, we would have been given 48 hours to leave the country and all the winter clothing and other stuff would have been confiscated.  Obviously God wanted us to finish the work in the country last week.  The great thing is that another way was opened, just we would not be able to assist. 
    Our prayer was simple.  God we trust you and we will do whatever you want.  If anything else would have been different, within 63 seconds we would have been kicked out of the country.  Amazing how God took care of us and protected us.  The 63 second story is only one of the many stories where we saw God work things out and protect us.  The great thing about this story is that we all knew you were praying with us and lifting up our safety on this whole trip.  
    It was an Amazing God trip.  Each of the team were a blessing not only to each other, but especially to the people of this area who are truly seeking the Lord.  Thank you for supporting us, praying for us and loving us on this trip.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Evening and All is Well...

The Sun Setting over the Med. Sea


    It has been an amazing week so far here.  Today was our last really full day, tomorrow will be a modified day as the team will have to get back to the place where we are staying.  We will have to do any last minute visits (which could take time), maybe get some snacks for the flight home, pack, try to get some sleep and then be at the airport at 6:00am on Sunday morning for the beginning of our 24 plus hour trip back home.  So I would like to give you just a few highlights about this week so far. 

1.  We have seen eight people make professions of faith so far this week.  Today we prayed with number eight.  Eight people is a HUGE number when you know the costs of making the decision to follow Jesus.  The costs are family, friends, future and even sometimes their lives.  As Americans we have no idea what the costs are. Even I don't know the costs that this decision is.  And I have lived and traveled in this region for almost 14 years. 
2.  We have been part of a baptism of two new Believers.  And for me the really cool thing is that I got to perform the baptisms.  It was such an honor, blessing and gift from God. 
3.  We have planted numberous seeds and discussed Esau Robb (Jesus the Lord) with to many people to count.
4.  We have met with Believers and encouraged them, disciple them and loved on them over this last week.  Even pictures will not describe or show the hearts and love of these Believers.
5.  We attended a House Church here.  It is the first Christian Church in this area in almost a 100 years and it was a fantastic time to worship with them.
6.  We, but what I should say is, I have been able to rekindle friendships with many who immediately came up to me and hugged on me and of course shared many cheek kisses. 
7.  And finally we have seen and experienced places where the church of Antioch and Paul were. 

    These are just a few of the Amazing things that have happened on this trip so far.  There is one last thing that God has done and that is that He has kept us very safe.  This is a gigantic praise for us so far.  I told the team tonight a reason that we have seen and experienced so many "God Things" this week is because of the prayers and support of each of you.  Thank you for standing with us on this trip.
The Team minus Me


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Shared Feelings

The Art of Making True Silk

Shared Feelings

I wanted to share with you what one of the team has said so far about our trip here.  The perspective is so wonderful. 

The first update: 

Today was a blessed day.  We heard some of the most amazing testimonies I have heard in a long time. (I will share these in more detail when I get home)   We visited with 4 believers with the goal of encouraging them.  And as it always seems to work out, we were encouraged.   The enthusiasm from these brothers and sister would motivate anyone to get off their behind and out spreading the Word. We had the opportunity to participate in a home church service.  It was truly a blessing.  It is always awesome to share in a multi cultural/racial service. The lay person who presented the message was outstanding.  

Second update:

Today was another amazing day.  We met with some non believers and had a wonderful time of visiting with them.  We shared the gospel, but they were not ready to receive.  Our second person we were to meet ended up canceling, so we moved on to meet with one of the people who became a believer yesterday.  We met with him and his mother.  After some visitation, we shared the word of God with her.  We prayed with her and she accepted Christ as her Savior.   We continued to discuss the Word with her and her son, to clear up some of the old misconceptions of how to get into heaven.

We left there and went to the residence of two new believers, who will be baptized tomorrow. One of the believers had been sharing the word of God with a friend of his.  His friend had said  that he was only understanding part of what was being shared. The new believer said, "Don't worry.  I have some friends coming over tonight who can explain it better.  Why don't you stay for dinner."  So he did.  We shared the gospel with him and he prayed to accept Jesus as his Savior.  We continued to talk and eat, and talk and eat...and talk and eat.  It was truly a great time of fellowship. (More about the conversations when I return home)

Last Night's over halfway point update:

God is awesome.  We had a great time at Samanda (The port city where Paul and Barnabus sailed from) baptizing a new brother ( Mr. U) and sister (Mrs. E) in Christ.  They were elated coming out of the water.  Mr. U said he never felt so free.  It was an amazing experience, both for them and our team.  It was a blessing for Ron, as he was able to baptise both.  (These two were saved when Ron was here setting up this trip.)  We continued our day traveling through the city of Samanda and up the mountain to St. Symeon's castle. (The castle is in ruins and is currently under renovation to make it safe for tourists.)  We arrived to find it closed and guarded.  fter briefly speaking to the guard, he turned off the cameras and allowed us access, giving us a guided tour of the ruins.  We returned to  Hatay, where we had a great lunch.  ( side note, I ate one of the hotest peppers I have ever ate in my life.  Ron thought I was joking so he took a bite.  The joke was on him!!!  He found out I was not kidding!!!!LOL)  We then traveled to another believer's residence, where we had tea and fellowship.  Again, we came here to encourage and bless new believers, and again, we were blessed by them just as much.  This elderly gentle man has been sharing the word of God with everyone who will listen and even those who wont, for the past three years.  What a blessing and an encouragement.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 1 In Turkey

Exciting Times

    Well we all arrived safe, in good health; and a little tired last night.  Our flights were for the most part, pretty uneventful.  There are always fun things that happen (tell you about that one on a later date), but we got here.  All of our flights were on time.  Even better is all of our luggage arrived and in one piece.  All of these are huge prayers answered. 
    Today our day started at 8am and we really didn't arrive back to the hotel until around 7pm.  The above picture is of the team and some local believers.  It was a really good time.  Today we spend our day really with believers.  We started with having coffee with a local believer, listening to his story, sharing in his life as a believer and enjoying the first of "way too much" coffee and tea.  Then from there we went and had house church, where we had a wonderful time of learning, praising and celebrating our Lord.  Next on the agenda was going to downtown Antioch, where we had more tea and then saw the largest bookstore (#1 Bible selling store from here to Istanbul).  You can see their book selection below.

Yes, that is the extent of the Christian bookstore here.  Still it is a great testimony in this country.  From here the team went a look at some of the mosaics that have been excavated here in this region.  Then it was off to the family that is pictured above. 
    It was a great day.  Please pray for the team as tomorrow is going to be a very busy day and a great chance to really do some eternal work.  Again the team is all doing good and you can already see how God is working.