Ahmet* told us he had never received anything of real value before. As we gave him the good news of salvation and told the story of Peter walking on water, sinking because of his fears, we explained, “Jesus is reaching out his hand and he can hold you”. Ahmet started to cry.

We met Ahmet through the Ümit (Hope) Project, which began about 3 years ago, following an 8-year countrywide outreach programme. We wanted to bring a message of hope to the nation through outreach to unreached provinces.

A goal of Turkish leadership

Ümit first started with the aim of recruiting people from overseas to partner with local churches in going to places with no established church. We had our first outreach in the summer of 2019. Over 100 people attended as 14 teams reached out to 35 places in two weeks. The majority of team members were from outside Turkey, with just 20 Turkish people participating. Praise the Lord, in this short time of outreach, a few people came to believe!

Although Ümit is led by foreign organisations, it has a goal of strong Turkish leadership. The following year we made the decision that only local believers and Turkish speakers would be on the team. We knew it would not be easy for local believers, in fulltime secular work, to commit to two weeks of outreach, so we decided to have shorter outreaches with the potential for sponsorship of local team members.

Rethinking plans though the pandemic

Of course, we couldn’t have predicted what happened – Covid-19! The pandemic prevented any church services and face-to-face outreach. We wondered what to do.

Having prayed together, we decided that training is fundamental to reaching out to others. So, late in 2020, we held a week of evangelism training seminars. Different speakers, local pastors, and mainly Turkish believers talked about a variety of subjects from storytelling to apologetics. We had about 70 people each night for five days.

We were so encouraged by this, realising that people were thirsty for such teaching and seeing that God could still open doors during the pandemic. Indeed, the pandemic allowed many to join us online who would otherwise not have been able to afford training. It also helped us form better connections with others throughout the country.

Our first trip after the pandemic, in July 2021, was to the East of the country, in partnership with the Bible Correspondence Course team who had led the original countrywide outreach that resulted in Ümit. After follow up work, we were delighted to see someone come to faith! Others we talked to were genuinely seeking, to the extent that it is likely a new church will be formed there. Please pray for this potential new church.

In addition, three more teams went out in the summer, and again each team saw three people come to faith. This is where we met Ahmet. He did not believe that day, but those from Ümit and others were praying for his lost soul. In the evening, the brothers from the group shared more about the Lord and we continued praying. Then, on Sunday, Ahmet came along to the fellowship, and while we were praying for everyone in the room, he came and asked for prayer and believed in the Lord.

How you can help!

God willing, we have plans to do more but we need your support and prayers. We currently need financial support for more volunteers to join teams; people to help with managing the finances; promotion; and website management and development. If you would like more information about how you can help, please email umitwebsite@gmail.com. Turkey has long been known as one of the least-reached countries in the world. Our vision is to ensure that, with God’s help and grace, this is no longer true!

 

Carol* serves in a training ministry in partnership with churches in Turkey

* Names and identities have been changed