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.
Bread is important, almost sacred, in this culture. Like water, it signifies life. You never drop bread on the ground. If by mistake someone does, the next passer-by will pick it up and put it on a windowsill so that it is not trampled.
Let’s pray that the Bread of Life will be what gives new life and lasting nourishment to the many hungry souls around us. Praise God, we are beginning to see this happen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fruit from the Bread of Life
Efforts to get the Word out through online ministry have greatly increased, with much fruit. One young man involved in a youth ministry told me that their website has grown from 1,000 to 1,800 subscribers during the outbreak. At least 50 have started reading the Bible seriously and have come to believe. Through the website many of them have been connected to churches, and several believers who had grown cold have also come back to the Lord.
… at least 50 have started reading the Bible seriously and have come to believe
What is so encouraging, is that the majority involved in these online ministries, including this man, are second generation believers. They were children or teenagers when I first moved here fourteen years ago. It shows how much the church has grown in depth and maturity, though numbers are still very low. We are also excited to see that several in these key ministries attended seminars from our theological training programme.
In John we read that “(Caiaphas) being high priest that year … prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that he would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (John 11: 51-52). I have been thinking a lot about why it is so hard for the church not to meet. It is not just because we naturally miss our friends. It is against the very nature of the church, by definition, the gathered people of God. Many verses mention the gathering together of God’s people including, surprisingly, these words of Caiaphas. And yet, in Acts 8, in a time of persecution, we see the Lord use the scattering of the church to spread the Word.
Scattering yet spreading
We are seeing the Lord use this time for good. As well as leading us to focus on neighbours (like those in my building), and the fruit from online ministries, our prayer life has grown. People have joined midweek meetings, a youth night of prayer, and a ladies daily prayer group – all online.
The virus has helped us to see our dependence on God for every breath. There is much to pray for, as we ask for spiritual and physical healing for unwell friends and relatives. Please pray for online ministries here, and that the church will use this time to grow in their faith and be equipped to disciple new believers.
A UFM mission partner working as a teacher in Turkey
*Some names and identities have been changed in this article.