Complete curfew here in Turkey started on Easter Sunday. The only people I could visit were those in my own building. So I brought Easter gifts to three families. This has led to a closer relationship with them, and I was thrilled to receive some freshly baked bread from one.
UFM in the USA (UFM Worldwide (USA)) was first established in August 2013 with an office in Birmingham, Alabama. The OneHundredFold team had become part of UFM in 2012, and we needed to provide the services our mission workers who are American citizens required.
You know how certain lessons linger in the memory? I recall a sermon just after I moved to the Midlands to work with Christian Unions. I don’t remember the passage, though it could well have been Mark’s Gospel. Instead of trying to recruit us to follow Jesus by describing how amazing Jesus’ teaching was, the preacher simply wanted us to listen to Jesus’ own words and follow him.
Six of us were huddled over a blank canvas. One of us had stayed up late the night before to sketch a basic calendar for the year ahead. Every little box for every day of the year represented an opportunity – an opportunity to do our job and to reach the campus for Christ.
Supporting and resourcing the local church in mission is what UFM is all about. So often mission agencies can be viewed by local church leaders as always wanting something from them: their people, their finances, their prayers, their meetings.
Radicals approached the shopkeeper and complained that the New Testament was prominently displayed in his shop. Although he is a Muslim, he told them in no uncertain terms that he would continue to display the Injeel prominently.
Raheem had nothing particular preying on his mind. He was a successful engineer from a well-respected, traditional religious family and felt no reproach for the way he had lived his life. Yet sleep eluded him.
I had just reached the stage of being able to have primitive conversations and the language was starting to make sense. Then all mission workers were withdrawn, with danger from Islamic militants growing ever closer and more severe.
“Why God? You gave us a heart for pastoral work and then, in the middle of it all, you called us to walk through another, totally different door, removed from contact with the people we longed to serve!”
In Rico Tice’s book ‘Honest Evangelism,’ he talks about ‘the pain line’, the point in the conversation where we move from topics that are socially acceptable – the sport, home improvements or our next holiday – and into territory that’s much less comfortable: to speak about our faith in Jesus.