Haluk and Wendy in Turkey
December 14, 2020
Haluk and Wendy have been serving Jesus in Turkey since 1998, but in 2018 First Church joined in partnership with them! Haluk, is director of Words of Hope Turkey, and has a vision to make the Gospel known throughout every province in Turkey through radio and TV. His wife, Wendy is a social worker and therapist and works with individuals, families, and ministry teams in crisis, and leadership coaching. Below is a story of success shared with us on behalf of Haluk and Wendy’s work in Turkey!
Some names may have been changed or omitted.
This is Adem on the left. We’ve known him for about fifteen years now.
He is from a small Kurdish village outside of Ankara. He might be considered marginalized in some ways because of his Kurdish background (the Kurdish language in the public forum was outlawed until recently). He might also be on the margins of society due to his background as a drug dealer who got mixed up with the wrong crowd as a youth and ended up in jail, more than once. Now perhaps, he’s even more marginalized as the only follower of Isa (“Jesus” in Turkish) in his village. You’d never know all that just by looking at him, huh? Isn’t that just like Jesus to gather in the people from the margins, put them at the center of His love and call them his own?
Haluk used to visit him in jail. He brought him a Bible once, but the guards found it and took it. After that Adem said “I hope they read it, they need it more than me anyway.” Adem shared Christ with his cellmates and some of them even visited our church in Anakara when they were released. He is a gentle soul with faith like a child. He lives with his elderly mother since he can’t find a wife because of his jail record. Unfortunately, in a small town everyone knows you and the label of “ex-con” sticks. But there’s so much about him, beyond the labels, that he’s he is just beginning to show!
A few weeks ago Adem visited us and asked Haluk to baptize him in the Mediterranean Sea! It’s been about ten years of thinking about it and praying about it, this summer finally he did it!
Baptism as we all know is some kind of identity marker. It’s a way of saying to the whole world (or just the few swimmers in the Med that morning) that I belong to Christ! My identity is now joined with Christians around the world. Quite a courageous statement to make in Turkey these days!
Last March, I gave a talk at a women’s conference here on the book of Esther and the way we sometimes hide and sometimes reveal who we really are. Some things about us are easy to hide (like that I’m Jewish, I’m a Christian, I am Type I diabetic, I’m an introvert…) and some things we cannot hide (I am white, a woman, not a native Turkish speaker…). Like Esther sometimes God calls us to let it be known who we really are. But sometimes He lets us hide it. Adem’s “coming out” through baptism reminded me that we’re all called to make it known who we are in Christ so the world can see HIM!! What are we showing? What about me do I show that lets people identify me as a follower of Isa? Keep praying for Adem and others like him in Turkey who count the cost of making themselves known as followers of Christ in a land where it can be dangerous to do so. And for the whole church, courage, when it seems easier to hide Christ than reveal Him!
…the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages …which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
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