“Turkey Is In Revival Like Korea 100 Years Ago”

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The Christian Whom I Met In Turkey (2)
Tuesday, mid-December last year. On a day when the sky of Ankara, a city built on 1,000 meters above sea level, felt very clear, I went to a university. I wanted to participate in a college Bible study meeting I heard from a brother Shaylor, a student from St. Vincent, Central American Caribbean country, at a local church on Sunday. I wondered what the young Christians in Turkey would look like.Arriving time is around dinner. College cafeteria was crowded with people lining up dozens of meters outside the cafeteria. With tens of thousands of students attending the school, one meal can be served at a low price of two-tele (about 400 won). Compared to the price, a minimum of 15 tees (about 3,000 won) that they have to pay, when going outside, one meal at a cafeteria is ‘grace’ itself.

I Was With Students Who Studied the Bible On the Campus
I Was With Students Who Studied the Bible On the Campus

A Bible study meeting is held on the campus.

The regular Bible study meeting took place at the cafeteria table after dinner. The group did not seem to be particularly different, as students are already working on a variety of study groups there. Four students gathered on the day. After briefly reviewing the life in one week, various discussions took place in the text of Jesus’ parable on the grapevine farmer who killed his master’s son, beginning with the passages from Matt. 21:31. It was interesting to discuss the meaning of the word and its application. The participating students did not hesitate to express their views. Every time they get together, the leader change. Today, the leader was brother Roy Serinken. He seemed to have a broad understanding of the Bible for his freshman year of college. What kind of young man is he? Some questions were asked.

– How long did you prepare for today’s meeting?

“We’ve received help from a lot of senior members of faith, including already-made data from the market .”

– I am impressed by your knowledge of theology on the body of the Bible as well as your diverse perspectives on the subject. When did you come to believe in Jesus?

I grew up as Christian from my mother’s womb. My father is a pastor.” A little golden cross necklace glinted around the brother’s neck during Bible study.

– Do you have any special difficulties wearing a cross necklace?

There is no problem. There are people who smile at the necklace.”

– How did you come to have such a bold faith?

Living a Christian life in Turkey is very different from living in a free western country. To live a Christian life means to be persecuted. If you practice your faith in Turkey, you have no choice but to have strong faith.”

▶Brother Roy Serinken
▶Brother Roy Serinken

The calm-talking young man looked reliable. I wondered what kind of parents he has, raising their son as a man of faith. After saying farewell, I asked brother Roy to introduceme his parents. Meeting makes a new meeting. Late evening, reply came that we could meet tomorrow. An unexpected interview has been scheduled. The Lord leads my steps that I hoped in my heart. Around lunch in the next day, I headed for the only Korean restaurant in Ankara.

The night before, as brother Roy had explained, I searched his father Ismail on the Internet. Through YouTube, various messages, including sunday worship, were available in Turkish and English. During his sermon, he revealed that he heard the gospel for the first time through a young Korean missionary when he was a university student in Ankara.

Rev. Ismail, who heard the Gospel through Korean Missionary

The next day, I met Pastor Ismail and his wife Angela for the first time. However, I was glad to see them as if I know them already.

I greetd them with a word of blessing, “You have a very sincere and reliable son.” Our conversation began with a story about their son, brother Roy. Skipping grade, he passed high school at the age of 17 and was receiving compliment from people around them after entering college as top student. In Turkey’s culture of respect for smart people, the brother Roy’s brightness is useful in preaching the gospel. I asked Rev. Ismail how he came to believe.

“I came to believe in Jesus 20 years ago through Professor Kim Yo-sep, who was teaching Korean at the University of Ankara (now known as Turkey expert at the Middle East Institute of Graduate School of Asian Center for Theological studies and Missions). When he was studying in Ankara after leaving his house in Laodicea, the professor invited me to his house and treated me like a family. I wondered where his kindness and warmth comes from. And when I learned about Jesus he believed in, I welcomed him.”

– Did you have any special reason to learn Korean?

At first, I tried to learn Japanese. But eventually, I chose Korean. I had much curiosity about Korea. I think it was the Lord’s will to meet me through the professor.”

– Turkey is known to be a Muslim community of 96 percent of its people being muslim. Is there any difficulty in serving the church?

The reason I can serve the church now is because the government is tolerant. That is the difference that Turkey has from other Muslim countries. Thankfully, 40 to 50 police come to protect us when we worship on the Lord’s day. There is no great difficulty in presenting the gospel on the streets these days.”

He said that 20 years ago, when the gospel is shared on the street, people were arrested unconditionally. But not recently, Rev. Ismail says. So these days, he is actively using social media, including YouTube and Facebook, as he believes it is a good way to communicate the gospel by contacting people through media such as television and social media. In 2017, he published a novel called “Gubernia Paradise,” which will be made into a movie this year, and will be open to the public.

▶ Rev. Ismail and His Wife Angela
▶ Rev. Ismail and His Wife Angela

– Has there been any special background for the changes that allow to deliver gospel?

There was a Malatian incident in 2007. Three Christians were brutally killed by young Muslim youths in Turkey at that time. After the incident, the government seems to have thought it should not be allowed to happen anymore. In particular, a martyr, Tilman’s wife said in a TV interview that she forgave those who killed her husband right after the incident, leaving a tremendous shock and challenge on the minds of the Turks at the time.

The incident, which took place in a small town called Malatia, Turkey, was a persecution of Christians that done by is committed by the youths in their 20s who tied a German missionary and a Turkish Christians to a chair and killed them brutally with deadly weapon. In a TV interview, a German missionary widow said calmly, “They have killed my husband and his fellow workers in the name of Allah, but I forgive them in the name of Jesus Christ,” which is remembered as a witness that vividly shows what Christ’s love and forgiveness is, including the Turks.

Listening to the story of Rev. Ismail, thoughts flashed into my mind that as the Lord said that a grain of wheat would yield a lot of fruit when it fell into the ground and dies, their love of Cross(following the way of Cross) were the gateway of grace that allowed Christianity to take root in the land of Turkey today.

– What is the situation in Turkey in terms of evangelization?

I think God is now allowing the land of Turkey wonderful things. Many people are curious about Christianity and are searching through the Internet. I believe that the moment of revival in Korea 100 years ago is now coming to Turkey. The families of the believers began to accept Jesus. The give their children the names such as Ilias, Hope, Rapha, Ziona. It’s unthinkable to name children these names that Muslims hate in the past.”

– When did you pioneer the church?

“My father in Laodicea came to believe in Jesus 10 years ago and he tried to open a church. In waiting to see the opportunity, we gathered people on December 24, 2009. It was the first meeting. I tried to explain about the End-Times period(of history/universe). An earthquake actually occurred while I was talking about the last sign of the Bible, about a phrase that said an earthquake would come. Then the Lord spoke in inner voice, “The land is mine”. With the meeting as first meeting, church was founded. From then on, he visited Laodicea, 500 kilometers away from Ankara every week, and served the church.

This has caused the church to become famous. Many people who ostracized Christianity visited the church and protested and tried to drive out the Christians. Dozens of policemen also came. The scene was reported on CNN, a news channel in the U.S., and became known around the world. But the Lord has given us peace and gave me thought that the Kingdom of God will be established in this place, and now there are dozens of worshipers in the three churches, including Antioch and Ankara.

–Please, Give me your prayer topics.

We had a difficult time when radical groups specifically named our church in detail, and named it as a target of attack. They did attack in shooting at church buildings, throwing stones, breaking windows and lights. However, because the Lord has kept us every time, our lives are still intact. I hope that you will pray for us that the Lord will let us love the Lord more and serve the souls.”

A Romanian wife, Angela Serinken, was a missionary at the age of 18, and met pastor Ismail while she was delivering the gospel in Turkey and married, and is now serving a church with two sons and one daughter through praises of church service. <To Be Continued> [GNPNews]

Ankara (Turkey)=C.K.

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