Greetings in Christ our Savior and Friend from here in Istanbul.
I hope this finds you well. We’ve just come out of a very intense election season here in Turkey, and although everyone’s thoughts seem fixed on the lead up to, and then the results of the election, the results of a much greater, and much, much older election are being realized in a wonderful way here, even though it hardly gets in the headlines
Each year the biggest proclamation event for us by far is the April 23rd big island outreach to pilgrims here off the coast of Istanbul. This year we had colder weather, even patches of rain and even hail downpours, which kept most of the expected people from coming to the island (on most years I’d say there are over 50,000 pilgrims; this year I’d guess it was around 10,000). Despite this we still had about 250 believers from many different churches throughout Istanbul and Turkey join together in praying for and distributing literature and preaching the gospel all along the way up and down the hill. Despite the low number of pilgrims, one believer told me they though this year’s outreach was the best organized, and most encouraging in terms of the conversations they had with pilgrims.
Our street evangelism team continues to go out on the streets each week; in fact, we’ve added a second outreach–every other Saturday evening–since the opportunities are so great. It’d take many, many pages to tell all the wonderful stories we’ve had from all these outreaches. Just last Saturday, for example, after a sketchboard presentation a gal from our team (Elona) talked to a girl who was interested in joining a church. When she asked where she lived, she said she lived in the same small neighborhood far away on the other side of Istanbul that Elona lives in! Pray she WILL come to church.
If I had a gold coin for every time the Lord has protected us from harm, I’d be a very rich man indeed. A few weeks ago after preaching about God’s love in Jesus, an obviously religious university student stepped forward, shouting curses at me in front of a crowd of about 50 onlookers, threatening to kill me if I didn’t leave immediately–and yet nothing happened (though the team and I did leave without arguing with him. :)). And the regular and market police must be getting used to us; the last few months they’ve often passed by as we were preaching and usually don’t even stop to ask what we’re doing.
The BCC building project is moving right along. All of the renters have now moved out, and we’ve just signed a contract with a construction firm to do the major renovations needed on the building. Here are drawings of the plan for the renovations. Pray that all goes well. We hope to move the BCC office into the building by late August, and to have the rest of the building finished by mid to late September.
Years of sowing the gospel among neighbors is paying off. Years ago one of Rebecca’s classmates had asked Rebecca to make her into a Christian (!), but her father (a retired army commando captain) didn’t want her being influenced by “missionaries” and put an end to that. To make a long story very short, years later, after a season of searching and researching and then attending our church for the last couple months, both the daughter and father confessed faith in Christ 2 weeks ago. It was just the mother who was holding out, but now she also has apparently joined them in following Christ (we just got the news two days ago). Praise God! This is a huge step for them, as you can imagine they face some serious negative reactions from their relatives and non-believing friends.
The kids are all doing fine. Johannes enjoys camping and exploring with his friends on one of the nearby islands. Rebecca is passionate about many different causes these days, and is glad we’ll be in Istanbul this summer so she can spend time with her many friends. Esther loves getting good grades in school and improving her volleyball skills. Amy is sad to be leaving her Turkish friends at her current school, but looking forward to joining her older siblings at the English-language Christian school.
Daniel is very happy that summer vacation is here (we plan to spend time together as a family and with Turkish believer friends at a beachside summer house. He’s also very happy that just this week he auditioned for and was accepted at the Music Conservatory/Middle School in downtown Kadikoy, where along with regular middle school classes he’ll receive training in voice and percussion.
Lots more to write but in haste now so this must be short. The Lord is good!
David & Ulrike
Johannes, Rebecca, Esther, Amy & Daniel
facebook.com/davidulrike +90 535 553 4258
facebook.com/ulrikebyle +90 539 233 5665