|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Mission|
"his oversight another taketh"
(Acts 1:20 - Psalm 109:8)
Resurrection in Turkey!
By A. A.
While the faithful Christians in our homeland are celebrating the glorious Resurrection of our Lord, and elsewhere, the unfaithful deprive themselves of the participation in this universal event, countless numbers of Turkish citizens are struggling to attain their own resurrection…
Please read the following message carefully:
«My dear brothers,
For quite some time now, I have been unable to keep track of the forum’s messages. The reason? I am unemployed and urgently in need of a job. I would very, very much love to be among you! But don’t think that I am squandering my days only in search of a job. I survive, thanks to my love and my faith in Jesus Christ! I whisper His Name every time I knock on a door for a job, or if I go to an interview, I pray continuously to Him, to help me out. Please pray for me.”
This one as well:
«My dear brethren, I would like to tell you about an event that I experienced a few days ago, one that affected me very deeply. I was late for class. I didn’t have a ticket or a day pass for a bus, so I had to wait for a taxi. But none would stop. All of them passed me by, with customers inside. The lesson was very important and there was no way I could be late for it. So I said a little prayer to the Lord: “Don’t let me be late, my God”, I said to Him. In two minutes the bus arrived and a Lady who got off it gave me Her bus pass. My brothers: our Lord knows what our needs are, and He caters to them. Blessed be His Name! Stay in His Peace! »
And what about this one?
«I’m not baptized, and in the city that I live there is no church. But still, I believe in Jesus Christ, despite my family’s objections. One day, I dared to say something to my mother and she looked at me, not understanding what was wrong with me, “Are you mad?” she asked me… So, can you tell me where can I find a Holy Bible? I have so many questions. Can you help me?»
On reading the above messages, you may imagine they were taken from a usual Christian forum – and you wouldn’t be far off. But what you probably don’t know is that this forum is Turkish and is addressed to Turkish-speaking people who are interested in Christianity, as well as Christian Turks (yes, you heard correctly!) who desire to communicate with their other brethren and share with them the beauty of Christian living!!!
An amazing phenomenon is unfolding in this land in our day! Turks are discovering Christianity! No, they are not crypto-Christians (they also exist) – they are youngsters who have access to the internet, who boldly dare to read the Bible, who ask questions, who are trying to locate Christian churches in order to be incorporated in them, who pray, who listen, who learn, who proceed to be BAPTIZED as Christians! Amid horrific family upheavals and often risking their life… And they are found both in the remote parts of Anatolia, but also in the major cities!
Read the following message, to get an idea of how God can act in people’s souls.
The message was posted in a forum on the 26-12-2007 by a young Roman Catholic Turk who lives in Smyrna.
Hi again. A Blessed Christmas to all of you… I haven’t written anything for two days, because I gave myself time off for Christmas. I wished those around me “Merry Christmas” and they all gave me strange looks, without understanding, without taking my own thoughts and feelings into account.. Anyway, I can’t waste time on people whose hearts are of stone… Some of you have asked me about the miracle that occurred in my life. Actually, its not about a miracle. It was something I’ve had inside me from the day I was born. In the past, at our summer house, we used to pick up the Greek State channel ET1. Every Sunday morning, I would wake up early, sit in an armchair and watch the Church’s Divine Liturgy live on TV. I was 5-6 years old at the time. In other words, I have loved Jesus Christ from the day I was born. When I grew up and my spiritual needs increased, I found myself in a place that the people of my environment frequented – the mosque. At that age, I didn’t have the courage to go against what everyone else did, and tell them that I am going to church. It is only when someone reaches the most suitable age and begins to make his own decisions – only then can he live his faith. That’s what I did. I had very sad Christmases. I spent Christmases watching the church services on a German TV channel. I hope all the faithful in this forum who are living their faith do not go through what I did, but managed to spend their Christmas and Christmas eve, as befits our religion.
Now read about the difficulties he had to face:
My mother speaks negatively on two points, with regard to my religion: work, and army service. She says to me: “In this country, nobody will hire you; you went through University in vain… and especially with this government…they’ve taken control of everything…you will have a hard time for the rest of your life!” Her purpose is to convince me – regardless of what I believe – to not change the religion marked on my identity card. “Besides, even in the army, you will also pile problems on your head” she would say to me. “I am doomed, simply because I am a Christian” she says. She believes that if I am not accepted, they will push me aside. I can’t say that I’m not afraid, as things are going from bad to worse. People are being judged because of their religious convictions and then there’s the incident that we experienced recently – a man of our religion was hit…. Could my mother be right? (He is referring to the Molotov bomb that strangers threw at the Catholic church of Saint Polycarp)
Now listen to how they confront these difficulties:
A woman from Constantinople writes:
«I don’t find it difficult being a Christian among Muslims, because Christ is with me! Besides, I have my Christian brethren. My daughter and I are both Christians but my husband is a Muslim. And even though she is only 10 years old, she gives her witness of Christ at school! And she does it fearlessly! May the Lord light our way!!»
A young student writes:
«I come from a practicing, religious Muslim family and my parents have placed me in an Islamic boarding school. All day long they talk to us about the Koran and they make us perform namazi. But I don’t feel a thing, with all this. I love Jesus Christ! As soon as I’m old enough, I will ask to be baptized! »
A woman from the distant town of Mus writes:
«In the town where I live there are no churches, but 12 years ago, while I was persisting with my wrong views, I became acquainted with the word of God. I was still quite confused at the time. I didn’t know what was correct, I didn’t know what I should do. One evening, I saw a strange dream: I saw myself standing on the edge of a precipice and a strong wind was blowing around me. I didn’t have anything to hold on to. It was a matter of seconds before falling off the edge, when I heard a voice behind me, saying: “What more are you waiting for, to believe in Jesus Christ?” I began to tremble, my legs buckled, but I couldn’t turn around to see who it was. I again heard that voice repeating “Well, what are you waiting for, to believe in the Son of God?” I immediately woke up!!! »
The participants in that forum explained to her that it was a calling, and indeed, at this moment, this woman appears to have changed a great deal. She does not even dare to disclose her faith to her environment, but everyone has suspected what has happened and they are waging a war of nerves against her. Anonymous phone threats, curses, swearwords.. She herself claims that she gets very annoyed with the hodja’s raucous cries coming from the mosque right next to her house. One of her sisters suggested that during those moments, she should try praying to Jesus Christ and ask Him to open the spiritual eyes of the people in her family and her environment. The woman from Mus found this to be an amazing idea, so now she prays in parallel with the hodja. But to Jesus!
Further down, another brother comments on the specific idea:
«I too would like to follow your example. When the hodja is yelling from the mosque, I think about how many people are still so far away from Christ and it worries me tremendously. So I will do the same - not only when the hodja is yelling, but every moment, so let us beseech the Lord for our families, our friends, our employers, in other words, for the entire world! »
Now listen to what happens to those who suddenly find themselves in this forum:
A young girl from Constantinople writes:
«I became a member of your forum 3-4 days ago, and I have spent 30 hours studying the Bible and reading all the messages in the forum. I studied my brethrens’ messages insatiably, one after another.. I realized that your religion is about love:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore be thou perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5)
And someone else from Constantinople, a few days ago:
«I happened to enter your forum, and have been reading the postings in there for 18 consecutive hours! Finally, when my eyes began to feel sore, I stopped and thought to myself that I need to learn about Christianity, I need to find a Holy Bible. So I decided to go down to the central bookshops of Karakoy and scheduled it for one of the next two days. The very next day, some new neighbors moved into our building. Because their apartment was very small, they gave away a box of books to do what I pleased with them, and if the books didn’t interest me, I could throw them away for recycling. Among those books was a Holy Bible! »
Last night, during the church procession of the Holy Sepulcher in the neighborhood, when we all stood together and our priest chanted supplications at every crossroad, I wondered how many people nowadays are hiding their faith and are fighting for it, inside Muslim Turkey… At the same time, I wondered how many Greeks in our –still free– nation can appreciate this good fortune, of being able to stand in the middle of a street and pray together with other Christians!
I beseech you, my brethren, when you are at a liturgy, pray for our sisters “Anastasia” and “Glenda”, who sent us the following messages a few days ago, through the forum:
Anastasia: I am 23 years old and for quite some time now, I have accepted Jesus Christ in my life as my Saviour. At heart I am Christian, but from now on, I want to live properly, according to the instructions of our Lord and rid myself of my sins. I would like to ask you how I can be baptized… I know they baptize young children, but I know nothing about the baptism of adults.
Immediately after, Glenda:
Glenda: I also want to learn about adult baptism, please inform me!
And a little earlier, she had asked someone who is also interested in Orthodoxy:
Did you visit the church that you were telling us about? I want to become Orthodox, please share this experience of yours with me.
Please also pray for our captive Patriarchate, that it might find ways of sowing the Seed among the faithful, without being accused of proselytism!
A blessed Resurrection, my brethren!
A blessed Resurrection, wherever you may be!
In Greece, in Turkey, in the Far East!
Christ rose from the dead, for the entire human race!!
Note: To all those who are familiar with the Turkish language, go to www.hristiyanforum.com to see with your own eyes how the prophecies of Saint Kosmas of Aetolia* are beginning to be realized in our day!
* St. Kosmas foretold that a large number of Turks (1/3 of the population...) will eventually convert to Orthodoxy.
Translation: A. N.
Article published in English on: 3-5-2008.
Last update: 3-5-2008.