“The Quran Is Threatening But the Bible Gave Me the more Joy As I Read.”
▶ The Scene of Worship at a Church in Ankara, Turkey, Where Immigrants, Including Refugees, Are Mostly Attending.

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The Christians I met in Turkey(1)

We, who are living on earth, live as wanderers away from homeland without exception. However, those who have a room for themselves in where they were born or staying cannot realize the life of a traveler/wanderer. We met Christians living the lives of wanderer so-called “refugees” in December 2018 on the land of Turkey. I will go into the story of the saints/believers who are away from their homeland, turn away from the world, and live their lives as wanderers for the reasons of their faith and for the sake of freedom.<Editors>

One day of mid-December, 2018, I visited a church in Ankara, the capital of Turkey.

Some 10 or so members were singing praises in the church where I arrived around 11re_196_3_2-turkey-6 a.m. Soon, the service was held for about an hour with sermons and prayers. When the worship was over, the folding desks unfolded and turned into tables and the lunch table fellowship was held. The food was prepared by Ukrainian, Iranian, Central American and Turkish members. Here, I met the couple, brother Nasser and his wife who are from Iran.

▶A church in Ankara, Turkey. After the worship, all the members of the  church have dinner together with food prepared by each member from different country.
▶A church in Ankara, Turkey. After the worship, all the members of the church have dinner together with food prepared by each member from different country.

Brother Nasser met God through a special client, kind and caring, while operating a car maintenance center in Iran. A book that was handed by the caring customer has changed his life forever.

“I want to give you a special gift. You’ll have questions when you read it. I’ll explain it to you later when I come back here,” the client told him as he giving it to Nasser. So he started reading the ‘Injil’ (The Bible/N.T). As he read, questions arose. In listening to the stories of brother Nasser, I wondered how the Muslim man met Jesus and what led him to the sea of truth. The conversation continued again the next evening at his house.

The house of the brother Nasser was clean and warm. The acquaintance who introduced him to us said, “It is rare to them to have such warmth in this house. They usually turn off the heating system to save money. But, I guess they turned on the steam today because a valuable guest was coming.” I felt sorry a bit, but I accepted it as a time of the festival that is shared of the good news.

“What Word in the Bible led you to believe in God?” I asked first the question I was wondering of.

“The Quran was very threatening, but the Bible wasn’t. The Bible made me happy as I read it. If the Quran were forcing to carry a burden, the Bible made me to do it voluntarily.”

The Revolution Brought By Bible

The encounter with the Bible brought a revolution to his life, who was a Muslim until the age of 35. Questions had arisen in all areas of life. Although he never skipped ‘Salat’ ritual and that his family members and friends went to the mosque to pray five times a day, it was not unusual to lie and steal from others in everyday life including himself. However, he could not ignore the Islamic law because of the fear that he would go to hell unless he does so.

The evangelist who handed over the Bible to him answered his question, “Isn’t Jesus a prophet like ‘imam’?” saying, “No!”and explained the Bible in detail. There was a word that caught Nasser’s eye when he began to know the Bible little by little.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”(Matt. 7:7) Unlike Quran, the Bible called for voluntary obedience.

The evangelist said.

“Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is rather life itself.” And he added. “I am a Christian. Jesus wanted me to live in relation with him, and I live in relation with the Lord. That is Christian”

“Christianity is not a religion. It’s life itself.”

He wanted to know more about God. And he was introduced to the leader of the house church. He met the leader despite he knew what cost that believing in Jesus meant in a Muslim society and was afraid of it. The more so, the greater the desire for God.

one day he was at a house church meeting, several police raided the place. About 10 male and female members were arrested on the spot. The police searched the house and found the Bible and the textbook. The police separated the men and women and dragged them with their hands tied behind them. The violent atmosphere led to a series of blows. They held his head and put against the wall. However, he couldn’t say it was painful.

The barrage of questions had begun. On that day, because, they got together for member’s birthday, so they said it was a birthday party. The police asked who Jesus was. He didn’t know who Jesus was until then. So, he said, “I don’t know.”

After hours of harsh interrogation, the police let him go in intimidating him, “If you go back to such a place again, I will not let you go.“

Over time, the following year, in Iran’s New Year’s Day, Noruz, he went to work in another city. At that time, the police came again to Nasser’s house. His wife Leila explained the situation.

“The police searched the house and took the Bible and various files from my husband’s PC. However , the police just left home because my husband was not at home.”

Leila was afraid. So, she packed her valuables and went to her mother’s house. Nasser’s friend persuaded them to leave Iran immediately, saying they could not leave the country in the future. With their two sons, Nasser abruptly left Iran. And they ended up living in Turkey, where they had never expected to live.

“I’ve lived in Iran without much in need. Having no money after leaving my hometown is just a little discomfort. But now I feel at ease. I believe the Lord is protecting us not leaving us alone.”

▶ A Certificate of Refugee Issued by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
▶ A Certificate of Refugee Issued by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

After arriving in Turkey, he was recognized as a refugee by the United Nations refugee agency(UNHCR) and has stayed where he is now. He is a bit better off than other refugees because he has a professional skill. He could get a job and live a family life on a small salary. However, he can not afford to send his two sons, Imirn and Ethan, to regular schools. So his children are studying through the Internet home-schooling.

His wife Leila was unsure of God until she left Iran. However, she was able to see the change of husband.

“I was challenged by my husband’s changed life.”

“He used to be drunk and a violent man. But his life began to change after he believed in Jesus. He became homely, caring and that was the characters previously unseen.” The witness’ words were powerful. Seeing her husband became a changed man, she was able to leave Iran together.

And the couple, who attended the current church under the guidance of God in Turkey,

▶Nasser's family, the two sons and his wife confess that they are grateful and happy for the life as wanderers who hopes for the eternal homeland.
▶Nasser’s family, the two sons and his wife confess that they are grateful and happy for the life as wanderers who hopes for the eternal homeland.

are receiving home visitation and is nurtured by God’s Word by pastor every week.

“when I saw the Gospel of John 15:12, ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’, my life was greatly challenged.” Leila said.

And she came to believe that Jesus is her Savior and her Master, and she is still learning God from the Word of God.

“There’s still the house church in Iran. People must be still going to worship there.” The face of brother Nasser who had confessed of God’s guidance over the past seven years seemed to have mixed feelings.

“My heart feels heavy in one part to talk about the times that passed.” Like the Christian, the protagonist of the book ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, who was on the way to look for the truth, he looked as if he was on another journey every day.

When asked if he could memorize John 3:16, he declared clearly with his wife in Iranian. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

He waved and showed off with a grim smile until we were out of his sight. As we left the street, the winter rain and cold air made us straighten the collar of our clothes.

The time when heaven-sent people, who long for the eternal home, encounter on this earth is also a tough journey like the ever-changing weather. But the Christian life is not that hard life without direction. Leila’s word echoed in my ear.

“Love each other as I have loved you.”<Continued> [GNPNEWS]

Ankara (Turkey)=C. K.

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