Turkey anyone? Did you know that Turkey (the country not that bird we love to gorge ourselves on once a year) has the largest un-evangelized population in the world (www.abountmissions.org)? It was surprising to me as well. Yet, over the last decade, it has become increasingly easier and freer to share the gospel in Turkey. In fact, you have more freedom to express your faith than to suppress someone who is sharing their faith. So why is there nearly 35 million Turkish people who have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel?
I was told that Turks have a saying, “To be a Turk is to be a Muslim.” Turkey is considered one of the main centers (or protectors) for Islam. Islam is the Turkish identity, not just a predominant religion. In the 80’s, you could probably find only 50 Muslim background believers (MBB’s) in the whole country. Today, with a population of about 70 million, there are only about 5,000 MBB’s. With such freedom, I’m honestly astonished that there isn’t more evangelism taking place here. In fact, I feel somewhat ashamed I didn’t become more aware of the situation here sooner and involved myself however I could.
During my first tour we did open air programs in one of Istanbul’s busiest boardwalks. It was amazing to see how quickly crowds would gather. I of course thought that as soon as I began to share my testimony, people would quickly leave. Not at all! In fact about 90% of the crowd stayed for the entire gospel message!
Please pass the gravy. I’m not sure what the crowds will be like or what the response will be like when I return to Turkey this Spring. One thing I am sure of is that Turkey has a tremendous amount of freedom to share the gospel yet, I’ve been warned that the Turkish people have an apathy and disinterest in the gospel. They predominantly believe that there is no relevance to the Gospel because, quite frankly, there are no records concerning Jesus’ life to the average persons understanding. Any records of Jesus’ life have all been lost or changed (corrupted).
That’s ok, I have a secret sauce. I not only feel blessed to be here at such time as this, but also blessed to be in partnership with Faith Search International (www.faithsearch.org) a ministry wholly dedicated to not only spreading the gospel but, sharing it with evidence.
I remember back when I first began my training by President of Faith Search, Dr. Don Bierle, in the late 90’s. I was immediately impressed by how quickly and easily my understanding and ability on how to defend the Gospel’s historicity and authenticity (and I already thought myself to be exceedingly proficient in this area of my ministry!). I hope that my dialogue with local people in Istanbul during my next tour will provide opportunities to share those life changing truths and facts… the records concerning Jesus’ life have indeed been preserved and are absolutely trustworthy to know who Jesus really is!
As I continue my journey around the world, check out one of the organizations I’m working with. TACO www.tacoteam.org in reaching people with the Gospel throughout the Muslim world boldly using creative performing arts. If you would be interested in joining me on my next tour and be featured using your performing gifts and talents, let us know!
If you can’t, at the very least, take some time to pray for open hearts, strategic opportunities, and or course, new relationships in this part of the world that will assist in advancing the Kingdom of our Lord. Pray we increase that 5,000 MBB’s to 5,001, or 5,010 or even 6,000!