This past week has seen us readjusting back to our usual Intern timetables and routine after our Easter break and trip to İzmir, Turkey. We flew out at the end of March and spent just over a week utilising our newly learnt and finely tuned Turkish language skills, beginning our seamless assimilation to local culture…döner anyone?!
Throughout the trip we spent time getting to know members and leaders of Lighthouse Church, worshiping and enjoying fellowship together as we joined in with their regular Sunday meetings and mid-week small groups. The rest of our time was spent (between incredible culinary exploits) worshiping on the streets, praying over different areas of the city and reaching out to people on the university campus and its neighbouring cafes.
Whilst, for me personally at least, there may have been initial scepticism or uncertainty about what kind of impact we could have in the 9 days we were there, God showed us that He can use us as members of His body to further His kingdom regardless of how qualified or prepared we feel. Particularly striking for me was the encouragement we received and were able to share with brothers and sisters in another part of the world just simply by being together and joining in prayer and worship with one another. We heard stories from Turkish believers being baptised about the persecution they have faced or alienation from family and friends they have endured as a direct result of choosing to put their trust in Jesus Christ. We met men and women from all over the world who have followed God’s call on their lives to bring His gospel to the country of Turkey and have found themselves still there decades later. We were left feeling humbled and inspired by believers who know what it means to consider everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.
I think at different points during our trip we each were, and continue to be, challenged, stretched, encouraged and spurred on by a God who is on the move in Turkey and in the rest of the world, drawing all people to Himself and using His Church, the body of Christ, to establish His kingdom on earth.