As many of you already know I had the opportunity to accompany a group from the IPHC to Turkey last month. The purpose of the trip was to visit the sites of the seven churches of Revelation. Although this was a seedbed of early Christianity, most of the seven cities have no Christian presence at all.
Turkey is a country of 71 million people. As far as we know, there are around 5000 evangelical believers in the entire nation. 99.8% of the population is Muslim. In every neighborhood there is a mosque identifiable by the prayer towers from which the call to prayer sounds five times every day. It is truly heartbreaking that there is so little Christian witness left in a place that once knew thriving communities of followers of Jesus. But, God is at work in Turkey!
One of the goals our denomination seeks to reach in the near future is to plant churches in each of the seven cities mentioned in the book of Revelation. So far, we have seen the miraculous in terms of God raising up leaders and providing resources. We are believing God for a mighty move of His Spirit to sweep through this historically Christian land.
In one of the cities, Christians inhabited the area continuously from the time of the early church until 1924 when political currents changed and Christians were deported. Though there has been some missionary activity in this city over the past few decades, the workers there have not seen much success—that is, until now. In the past few years God has raised up new leadership, and there is now a worshipping community that gathers in people’s homes. We have already purchased land and a building that will accommodate a coffee house as well as a place of worship. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of real estate was acquired for $40,000. The new church property is located within about 200 yards of where the last church existed in this city in 1924. Our brothers and sisters there are looking forward to moving into their new property so that they can be more visible to the people of their city. This modern city has great potential including over 30,000 university students. It has great promise for becoming a regional headquarters for church planting.
This month is a great month to think about what God is doing around the world because on May 27th, we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday. Fifty days after the first Easter, Jesus anointed His followers with incredible power and boldness for witness. Because of that anointing on the very first Pentecost, the Gospel began to spread throughout the known world. God’s truth continues to advance today as the Holy Spirit empowers and equips his people to fulfill the Great Commission.
Our prayer is that especially as we focus this month on a celebration of Pentecost, we would continue to see the advance of the gospel among the unreached peoples of the world both at home and abroad.