DESCRIBE WHAT THE LORD HAS CALLED YOU TO DO & THE COMMITMENT YOU HAVE MADE TO ANSWER THAT CALL:
My wife and I both grew up on the mission field. Her parents served in Mexico and mine in Bolivia. We met at Emmaus Bible College when we realized we both spoke Spanish. Both of us already had a strong inclination to serve overseas because of the wonderful example of our parents. However during the first year at EBC the Lord opened our eyes to the crying needs of the Islamic world. We were especially touched by the needs among the Kurdish people, at that time the largest unreached people group. At the end of my sophomore year and after much research and many prayers, I decided to visit Turkey in 1998 to see things for myself. The Lord really impressed on me the huge need for discipleship and church planting in eastern Turkey where there were very few workers. Sarah and I were married at the end of our time at EBC and we went to serve at our home church in Yakima, WA. All along our elders there knew of our passion to reach Kurds. A year later we were able to visit Turkey together and the Lord opened the door for us to return. So even though we were quite young, our church leadership commended us to serve in Turkey in 2001. After learning the language in Izmir we moved out to Diyarbakir in the eastern provinces and had the privilege of serving the small local church there for a dozen years.
Over the years the Lord has molded our vision so that we have a better understanding of His calling on our lives. Initially, we launched out intent on planting churches and saving the Kurds. However, over the years, the Lord has taught us to appreciate what He is already doing in the region and to get in step with His plans instead of pursuing our own. The church we served did grow and plant new churches, however we saw ourselves increasingly involved in discipling the next generation. I did this mainly by teaching and writing books, while my wife did more counseling. All in all the Lord has redirected our attention to the heart of His great commission, which is making disciples. Sharing the gospel, planting churches and everything else must be subservient to this one great command.
TELL US ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU MINISTER TO:
Over our twelve years in Turkey we spent the majority of our time investing in the local believers, especially the youth of the Diyarbakir Church. They were both Turkish and Kurdish with a great appetite to know the Lord and grow in Him. Because it is the only established church in eastern Turkey, it gathers a lot of attention from visitors on a daily basis which translates into many evangelistic opportunities. All three of our kids were born in Turkey so for us it is home. However just last year, because of my prominent work with the Christians in that sensitive part of the country, I was blacklisted and not allowed back into the country. My family can return but I cannot – even as a tourist. So we moved our family to Northern Cyprus where they also speak Turkish. Here we continue serving Turkish believers. However the Lord has also put us in contact with a number of international students from around the Middle East who are eager to know the Lord. So now we are discipling people from many nationalities.
Sarah spends most days visiting with up to four women who she disciples/counsels. We have an International Bible Study at our home on Saturday evenings with students from all over the world. We also have a Turkish Fellowship meeting at our home on Sundays. I spend much of my time responding to people who have read my evangelistic books or seen my TV programs as they write me over the internet. Even as Turkey is increasingly changing its secular stance and moving towards an Islamic State, its citizens are expressing higher levels of interest in the Gospel.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR MISSION FIELD?
While in Turkey our greatest challenges were often immature believers or pseudo-Christians. At times the government also made it difficult to operate freely. From time to time we also encountered physical attacks by Radical Muslims. In 2007, three fellow workers in Malatya just northwest from us were murdered for their faith in Christ. However as I noted above the biggest challenges often come from within the church.
Now here in Cyprus we have much more freedom to share openly. Because people here are largely nominal Muslims, you would expect greater openness. However the fact is that materialism has blinded them to their need for Christ. So getting through to people is a real challenge.
HOW CAN WE PRAY FOR YOU?
Pray for the people we disciple to really fall in love with Christ and follow Him faithfully. For many of them this means being rejected by their families and even facing physical threats. Pray that they remain strong.
Pray for the new Turkish Fellowship in our city to grow strong in faith. Pray that God gives us in-roads into the community to share Christ’s love with them.
Pray for our family, that the Lord would allow us to be a light in this community. Also that the Lord would allow our children to grow up with a love for Him and His work.
DESCRIBE ANY FINANCIAL/MATERIAL NEEDS OF THE MINISTRY:
Frankly the Lord has always been so generous to us as a family, we have no complaints. From time to time we have special needs but the Lord always provides in time. At this time we are selling our old car and hoping to buy something more reliable. We are confident the Lord will provide.
There is, however, another more pressing issue of reprinting evangelistic books in Turkish. Funds that we were expecting to arrive from elsewhere fell through so we are in need of some money to pay the Christian publishing company in Istanbul that recently published another 20,000 booklets for free distribution. We are in need of around $4,000 dollars. In this too, we know the Lord will provide.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO CHALLENGE US WITH?
I’d like to challenge believers to rediscover Biblical discipleship. Too often our Christian life is relegated to merely attending church functions and sharing our faith when convenient. And yet Christ’s call to discipleship involves a radical change of life in which we throw our lot in with Him. Biblically, this radical change should impact every area of our life. In fact, it will inevitably lead to trials and even persecution. According to Christ, discipleship is nothing short of dying. To take up our cross and follow Him. Not only should Biblical discipleship transform our view of ourselves in relation to Christ, but also our relationship to the world. Instead of simply doing the minimum to “share” Christ, we should seek opportunities to invest everything we have in other people. Only by this type of sacrificial abandonment will people be radically changed into followers of Jesus. Today young men and women in the Middle East are willingly sacrificing themselves for the cause of Islam. How much more willing should we be to die to self, our plans and desires in order to bring life to the world?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VERSE/QUOTE?
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” — Jim Elliot.
WHAT IS THE BEST/PREFERRED METHOD OF SENDING MONETARY GIFTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS MINISTRY?
If you would like to support us as a family, the best way would be through the CMML office. In order to help with the publication fee of $4,000 mentioned above, please email ComeAwakeBlog@gmail.com in order to get my contact information. It would be beneficial to keep this separate for tax purposes.
Our heart is to reach Muslims in particular for Christ. Over the last decade I’ve written several evangelistic books in Turkish for this purpose. Last year when we were on furlough I compiled much of this material and made it available in English as a little booklet called: Dear Muslim Friend. It is designed to give as a gift to a Muslim friend but it is also helpful for Westerners to learn how to answer the questions of Muslims. If you’d like to order some, you can get them directly from the publisher at: https://www.ecsministries.org or from Amazon.
Thank you kindly for uplifting us up in prayers. We hope and trust the Lord will multiply your efforts for His glory.