A young girl in our neighborhood is very friendly toward us, but shows no interest in Truth and usually argues with me after she initiates the conversation. While waiting for the boys to arrive on the school service, this girl pointed out a blind man receiving help from a few others. I told her that I had just read the story about when Jesus made the blind man’s eyes to see. Please pray that this small seed takes root in her.
Beggars come to my door constantly. Sometimes, I am able to get to know their stories and their needs. This month, a woman with two kids came to my door. She had previously gone to my friend’s door, so I remembered hearing about her. We gave her some food and clothes for the kids and asked her to come back the following week during my language class for me to record her story. She came, and I fed her and her kids, gave her more clothes and hand-me-downs, and provided her a NT after recording her story. Later, a teammate and I as well as a local couple visited her unannounced at her home to try and assess the truth to her story. She had then gotten word that her husband, who had left her for another woman, was going to return her son to her. I told her my home was always open to her. A day or so later, she showed up saying she was short of her rent for the month. We talked with her more about a long-term solution for her situation and I was able to share more of the gospel with her. She said she had read in the NT I had given her and from the first page knew this to be true and better but said it was for people like me not her. My friend “Rose,” who was here at the time, then launched in to her testimony because she was a local like our visitor. She shared how the gospel had transformed her. I told her to begin reading in John and we invited her to our weekly ladies Bible study as well as our Sunday gatherings. She asked if Rose would read some of John to her right then. Having the needy into my home is often painful because I want to do more and don’t always know how. I want to fix everything, but, of course, I can’t. However, I pray that this day this woman left more loved and cared for than she has before and with some Truth to chew on even when the food runs out.
Our first week back in Turkey I needed to go get some replacement light bulbs, so I went to my friend’s hardware store. He immediately told me that his father-in-law had just died, and that his wife was out of town with the family. I offered my condolences, and we sat down for tea. After a while, when I thought it appropriate, I asked more about his death, as well as their beliefs about life after death. The conversation quickly turned to praying for the dead, and how we can be sure that we are going to heaven when we die. While I know that I could have done a better job explaining the good news, I was encouraged to have an opportunity only 24 hours after arriving back in country.
I’ve had some great conversations recently with “Tony.” He continues to come in with questions from his reading of Scripture and his reading of a Christian book on the Trinity. In less than a week, he finished the entire book on the Trinity, took notes, and wrote down questions, even though it’s over 500 pages in length. Thankfully, another missionary came in Friday and talked more with Tony about this doctrine. It was encouraging to hear them dialogue and have yet another person to share Truth with Tony.
Before that, Tony and I also had a discussion about Jesus’ time between His resurrection and His ascension. While Acts 1 makes it very clear that Jesus was on earth for 40 days between the two, a couple of the gospels make it sound almost as if it was right after His resurrection that Jesus ascended up to heaven. Tony saw this as a contradiction in Scripture, so we discussed the many witnesses who saw Jesus, the things He did, and the things He taught during that time. Tony’s genuine interest in Scripture and understanding Truth seems to be growing. Please pray for God to reveal Himself to Tony and lead him to faith and repentance.
Big praise, Luke and Acts have been officially published in Behdini (a Kurdish dialect in NW Iraq)! And this week the Lord provided me with the opportunity to give out two copies to friends before it was for sale in the book store. One of the copies I received as a gift from those who worked on the translation. They also gave a local friend who was with me at the time another gift copy. He did not want to carry it home out of fear, so he left it in the glove compartment of my car.
I gave my copy to a friend early in the week. Later while on a visit the host showed mild interest in the book. But since I had already given my copy away, I went to my car and got out my friend’s copy to show the interested host. He thought it was interesting enough to ask where he could get a copy. But because of fear, it was also evident that he would not be willing to buy the book publicly. So I gave him my friends gift with plans to buy another one to replace it!
Both the host who was just mildly interested in Luke and Acts and my friend who desired to follow the Word of God were clearly controlled by fear. Most in this society seem even farther from the Word. They are uninterested. The Lord, however, has been kind to them by providing them with a translation of Luke and Act and continued work towards the complete Bible. Please join me in asking that the Lord would transform the K’s fear of man into trust in Him and their disinterest in the Word into a love for Him as they have increasing exposure to His Holy Word.
A few months ago, my guitar started making a strange twanging noise when I would play for our house church. I took it to the only music shop with which I was familiar, and the owner kindly fixed it for me for free. He invited me back to have tea, and eventually asked me if my friends from America could bring over a guitar pedal for him. I agreed to look for it for him, but I never received the email from him with the information. Then I forgot about it.
One day recently, I was walking to catch the bus and ran into the store owner, and he asked if I was able to get the pedal for him. I told him it wouldn’t be a problem, but I didn’t even remember the model he wanted! The next day, I went with my boys by his shop to tell him I never got the model number and to apologize for not having sought it out earlier. His email had gotten hung up in my spam folder.
So, after I found the (extremely rare) guitar pedal, I went back to his shop to let him know. There was another man in his shop drinking tea, and when he saw me, he immediately asked me if I was a Christian. He then told me he had been trying to read the NT on the internet, but really wanted a copy of his own and someone to help him understand what he read. I just happened to have one with me! I hope to meet with him soon to discuss what he’s been reading! Also, when my friends come and bring the pedal, I will hopefully be able to share with the shop owner more in depth.
One morning, I prayed for encouragement, asking God to use me for His Work and to give me grace to see how He had used me. Hours later N, my language helper, came in very concerned for a friend and her current lifestyle. She asked me to pray for her friend. I have had many spiritual conversations with my language helper and have attempted a few times to pray with her in Turkish, using very simple words and sentences that she has often corrected. I said we could pray now, but asked if she would pray. N answered that she did not know how to pray, that she does not pray. I told her that it is a conversation with the Heavenly Father and she could say anything to God. She prayed a few simple sentences and then I realized that she was praying in the same style that I had prayed in front of her. I was humbled and excited that God used me to model this part of a relationship with Him and thankful for His answer to my prayer for encouragement.
A Westerner living overseas in a Muslim country was going daily to physical therapy for her back. One Friday, she was told to pay attention to the Islamic sermon they were watching on the TV in the waiting lounge. There was something about a woman who had an abortion at 12 weeks. The Western woman piped up that this was not necessary because the baby could have been given to her instead. That raised questions; they talked about abortion and adoption. The Muslim women in the room inquired whether she would raise the baby to be Muslim or Christian. She said she was a follower of Jesus the Messiah and would train that child exactly as she trained her other children. Moreover, the child would be hers, would be loved the same as her other children, and raised the same, but that everyone in the world — no matter how they are raised — must make their own decision of whom they will follow. In fact, they will stand before the Lord one day and that no one can make that decision for them. She went on to give the example of her brother being raised the same way she was but that she chose Jesus and he did not. The seeds that were sown were small, but pray that the Spirit would use her words and example to draw these women to ask more questions and become acquainted with the Word of Life.
An expat got into a long conversation with a man called “Ike” about what it means to follow the rules of Islam. Ike talked about how he sometimes drinks, sometimes eats pork, and doesn’t pray five times a day. He said that what matters is when we stand before God, and He judges that we are more good than bad. The expat asked him what God would say to him if he stood before the judgment seat today. He answered “I don’t really know.” Eventually, the expat told him that he himself could stand before God with confidence because Christ took his punishment and made him holy through his dying on the cross and rising from the grave. Ike said “someone else paying your debt is crazy, shocking.” With glee in his heart, the expat told him wholeheartedly “indeed, it is shocking. It is an injustice that an innocent man, God Himself, died in my place. But He was the only one who could live up to God’s standards, and He is the only one who could take my sin away.” Pray that Ike continues to be mesmerized by the scandal that is the cross of Christ.
My wife and I had our language helper record ten or so simple redemptive stories that we could listen to and begin to build up our redemptive vocabulary. However, what I wasn’t expecting was to use them as evangelism tools. Later that same day, I was hanging out with a couple of friends, and I had my iPad with me. I felt the Spirit leading me to use the videos to begin a conversation. I explained the videos to them and asked if they would help me with words I didn’t understand, which meant they needed to listen well. I chose the story of the Prodigal Son. While it certainly helped with language, the best part was that it started an hour long discussion about the Good News, the origin of Scripture, and the deity of Jesus. We encouraged them to read the New Testament. I never thought kiddie level language videos about Scripture, on my iPad nonetheless, would be a great evangelism tool in Central Asia.