Cherrydale Baptist Church
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
To love God and people above all else
2015 Trip Reflections
Much of my Christian growth as an adult has occurred on short-term trips to Turkey. For that reason I eagerly looked forward to my 11th trip there. Coming alongside our supported family’s work among Iranian refugees there has offered unparalleled opportunities to share one’s faith with Muslims who never have heard the Gospel. This trip, however, was different: on Day 1 we hit the ground running with a daylong picnic and outdoor worship service (in Farsi) with 100+ Iranian refugees, most of whom are already followers of Christ.
Some years ago, the CBC men’s group read the book The Trellis and the Vine. The vine, from the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, is the personal ministry, often one-on-one, that furthers God’s Kingdom; the trellis is the administration and logistics that enable the Church---as a structure---to grow. Both are needed in Kingdom work. On the last trip in 2012 I did more vine work than usual. This time, as co-team lead, I suffered from a week-long illness that robbed me of sleep and my voice. I could still handle trellis tasks such as buying food and driving team members, and a constantly changing number of Iranians, from Point A to Point B. Vine work was left for my novice teammates, four of whom were experiencing their first mission trip!
Our preparatory team meetings addressed what roles we could assume on the trip, and it was something to behold to observe team members step up into both familiar an unfamiliar roles to accomplish some very fine vine work of teaching, preaching, exhortation, and prayer. The Persian refugees in Turkey wait for years not knowing whether or not they will be accepted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as asylum seekers for resettlement in a new country. It remains very humbling for me to witness the Iranian believers’ stark identity in Christ: both as God’s children whom He cares for in their desperate circumstances, and as the only community of believers in this part of the Muslim world. As St. Paul and his missionary band once travelled through Asia Minor exhorting the infant churches formed from the 1st century Jewish diaspora, we were privileged to do the same for the 21st century Persian diaspora who call upon Jesus’ mighty name.Terri Batson
What a privilege for my husband, Doug, and I to co-lead another team to Turkey to work alongside our CBC supported workers. As I prepared for this trip, I asked the Lord for a special connection with the Iranian women that He would choose to place me with and for the ability to share an abundance of His love with them. I so enjoyed asking questions and listening intently as many shared their personal journey – i.e. some left everything behind, some suffered imprisonment, some are separated from children living in other countries, some are battling fear of the unknown for their future, etc. Yet in the midst of their waiting to learn where they will be placed by the U.N., many of them are seeking and trusting the Lord to be their ALL. The joy of the Lord is on their faces and is their strength. With so little financial resources and earthly possessions, their faith in Him as their great Jehovah-Jireh is a powerful testimony. And that faith is impacting Muslim Iranians around them to seek and find God!
One of my biggest blessings was seeing that two sisters I met with in a home visit three years ago had come to Christ and are now walking with Him. We had a sweet ‘reunion’ – lots of hugs and “triple-cheek” Iranian kisses as we rejoiced over being together now in God’s family.
I loved our team! It brought me great joy to hear my teammates’ testimonies of how the Lord impacted their lives through this first-time missions trip experience. May He continue to expand our hearts and enlarge our territories for His Kingdom’s sake!Jan Wolner
It was a real privilege to participate in the mission trip this summer, to mingle with Iranian refugees, step into their world, listen to their stories and encourage them with scripture lessons, home visits, prayer, English lessons, crafts and fellowship! When asked the question - do you see Jesus differently now since your trip, I would have to say that I had prayed before we left that God would show me a new aspect of who He is, and He promised me He would! So I went, anticipating something new from the Lord, and indeed He showed me that He is building His kingdom, by the Holy Spirit, through dreams and visions, from darkness into light and from death unto life! We don't often hear reports of what God is doing in other parts of the world, but these people were as open to the gospel as they could be. They just needed some clarification in their understanding and we used scripture to speak truth to them, praying with them, showering them with love and encouragement and letting them ask questions; giving them opportunity to taste and see that the Lord is good. He is building His church among refugees and their marvelous faith is unencumbered by culture or customs, but it is pure, strong and so very precious! To join the Father, where He is at work is a wonderful thing! To God be the glory for the things He has done! Amen.
What changes would I like to make in my life as a result of this experience? I have a new understanding of the Holy Spirit's work. God is so much bigger than I had experienced. He is able to accomplish much by moving people, using difficult circumstances, oppressive governments and other struggles. The Holy Spirit has a prominent role in these events and I need to pray accordingly. It's easy for us to put the Holy Spirit in our box of understanding and experience, but there is so much more!!!! I intend to lean into God, both to learn and pray more effectively.Lindy Wolner
"He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only." C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
The quote above provides a succinct description of the Iranian refugees we engaged with on the 13-16 May 2015 Cherrydale Global Missions trip to the Nevsehir/Cappadocia region of central Turkey.
At the conclusion of 12 intensive days working alongside Joe and Yvonne Towfighi, our host missionaries, I found that it was emotionally difficult to leave Nevsehir and say farewell to the dear Iranian brothers and sisters who've given up so much for their faith. They've left possessions, homes, family, jobs, school, careers and personal stability behind to become refugees, temporarily residing in Turkey while praying for a favorable outcome and third country placement through the UN Refugee process. Their courage, devotion to family, willingness to sacrifice, earnest faith as Followers of Jesus, unquenched optimism, teachable spirit, and generous hospitality touched me deeply!
This series of divine encounters with Iranian refugees and exposure to the Towfighis’s work in Turkey has deepen my prayer life, caused me to question the materialism that hinders my faith, and given me a new understanding of how persecuted believers in this age endure through genuine faith!Greg Duhart
As I experienced the atmosphere of the Cappadocia region with its rich Christian history, a land once populated with many Christian Churches. I was inspired by visiting the Zelve Open Air Museum and seeing the Uzumlu Kilise (The Church with Grapes), The Balikli Kilise (The Church with Fishes) and moving on to the Goreme Open Air museum and visiting St Barbara Church, Elmali (Apple) Church, the Dark Church and the Carikli (Sandals) Church. Each Church carved out of the rock of the Cappadocia, alive with their frescos whose paint is still vibrant today. As I thought about the region and the people we had come to be a blessing to the Iranian refugees, the Spirit revealed to me that he was taking back this country one official at a time. As the Turkish and United Nations High Court officials many if not all whose faith is Islam, question Iranian refugees about their Christian faith, these officials are on the front line of Gods assault. These officials were tasked with the job of determining whether the Iranian refugees should be granted asylum status and sent on to other countries. These Turkish officials are hearing the gospel day in and day out in the course of their jobs. This small Christian Iranian population is speaking Truth to power. They are preaching the gospel with every answer to every question asked of them about their faith, and if we believe that Gods word will not come back void. Praise be to God for these persecuted Iranian Christians who are the instruments of God as they individually speak the Truth in Love to those who are in the best positons in Turkey to bring light to the Turkish people. The faith of these Christian Iranian refugees is deep and I thank God for the opportunity to be a blessing to them and to drink from their fountain of deep faith.