Meet Pastor Gurkan
January 29, 2018
Gurkan is a partner pastor with Turkish Connections. He and his dear family serve a church in Istanbul, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Like many Turkish pastors, Gurkan is involved in many areas of ministry and service inside and outside of his church. Here is a sampling of the last few months:
Christmas in Istanbul: Pastor Gurkan’s church held two very large Christmas events in December. They saw six Muslims come to faith in Christ and hope to see them baptized in March.
Baku, Azerbaijan: Pastor Gurkan visited a church that he has helped to establish in this neighboring country. He encouraged them and helped them with the preparation of their worship music.
YouTube evangelism: Pastor Gurkan is preparing 3 to 5 minute videos to answer the main questions that Muslims have about Christianity. He is working on 100 such questions. He is also preparing materials on YouTube for believers.
Church leaders: Pastor Gurkan is training new worship leaders and teachers for his church in Istanbul.
Sat7, Satellite programming: Pastor Gurkan co-host a Christian talk show on the Sat7 satellite network
Family: Pastor Gurkan is married and has three children. The whole family helps in the many ministries. Pastor Gurkan’s wife, Aygun, has heel spurs and is in need of prayer. Gurkan shares that he is tired and in need of rest.
I share all these things as a reminder of the busy and complicated life of pastors in Turkey. Please keep our dear brother Gurkan in prayer and hold all the overworked pastors in Turkey in prayer. Thank you for all your support for pastors like Gurkan
God is on the move!
June 29, 2017
Dear TCI Friends,
Thank you so much for your prayer support during the time I spent in Turkey! As I have mentioned before, the country is changing so quickly. Every Turkish citizen lives in greater fear of a government that can now do virtually anything it pleases. Any criticism of the government can lead to immediate imprisonment. Some Christians have been arrested recently just because they have used banks that are not approved by the government.
Christians also face being viewed as “traitors” to the country because they do not follow the majority faith of Islam. But in spite of the difficulties of following Jesus in this time of greater challenge, God is still at work:
* In one of our new churches among Syrian refugees, there are 45 new believers waiting for baptism. They are trusting God to reach 500 refugees with the good news of Jesus.
*Another new church that we support opens the garden area of the church property every Saturday afternoon. Interested Turkish neighbors come by for tea and ask their questions about Christianity. They have from 25 to 50 each week. Along with conversations, they also distribute many Bibles.
* We met a number of new Turkish Christians who came to faith due to a dream or vision of Jesus. One conservative Muslim woman dreamed about entering a particular building. As she was driving one day, she saw the building from her dream. She stopped and entered it, surprised to find that it was a church.
*Along with encouraging many of our existing churches, we also met six new Turkish pastors who are ready to establish churches in new, critical areas. Your support helps to make these new churches possible!
Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support! God is on the move in Turkey!
"Click Here" to view Armanj Testimony
April 7, 2017
"Click Here" to view Christmas Celebration Video
January 23, 2017
Meet Pastor Emre
Pastor Emre serves a church about an hour outside of Istanbul. The church is composed of about 25 attendees, most of them coming from Muslim backgrounds. A couple of years ago, Emre was contacted by the police that there was a plot to kill him and that the plot was to take place right away. A conspiracy of almost 20 people had been planning for some time to take his life. Two members of this conspiracy even started attending the church, pretending to be interested in Christianity. Emre so trusted these two that he even asked them to babysit his children.
By God’s grace, this plot was discovered just in time. Emre, his wife and two young children are safe. But some of these conspirators are still free as a trial drags on. Please pray for the safety of this dear brother in Christ and his family!
Emre’s church just held a very special Christmas event and he asks us to pray as they build relationships with those who attended. Already one visitor to the Christmas event is coming to the church weekly. I have included some video clips from their Christmas service. Pastor Emre is the one wearing a coat and tie.
Also, please pray for:
• A new church they are helping to start in a nearby community.
• The training of new church leaders.
• Attendees who are threatened by family and friends if they continue coming to the church.
Turkish Pastor Profile
December 1, 2016
Meet our Pastor in Adana
Pastor Humberto serves in the city of Adana, Turkey. He, his wife Maria, and children – Israel, Sarahi, Damla – serve faithfully in this central Turkish city. Along with a church of about 50 attenders, they are starting a new church in a nearby city.
Pastor Humberto suffers from serious migraine headaches. He and his wife are suffering other physical ailments related to the stress of serving as a Christian in Turkey. Please pray for God’s healing hand upon their lives!
Their church runs a Christian bookstore in Adana. It is one of the very few such stores in Turkey. It is a place where people can come to ask questions and ask for prayer. They also show Christian movies in the bookstore. Please pray for God to use this bookstore to reach many in the community. Pray also for the financial resources to keep it going.
Pastor Humberto has developed three teams that are working to start three more churches in surrounding cities. Pray for divine appointments and receptive hearts in these areas!
Finally, please pray for Humberto’s three children as they study at local universities and serve in the church. May God protect them and use them in a powerful way.
Turkish pastors are so encouraged to know that their Christian family in America is praying for them!
For more information about Turkish Connections and the churches we support in Turkey, please visit TurkishConnections.org
Any gifts given to Turkish Connections during the month of December will be matched by a donor who believes in the work of TCI.
An Update from the Freemans in Turkey
September 21, 2016
Dear TCI Friends,
Thank you so much for your prayers and support during this time that Laura and I are in Turkey! In our extended visits with 20 Turkish pastors and their families, we are finding incredible stress and challenge. These dear pastors continue to serve faithfully but carry a heavy burden. What contributes to that burden?
Political issues: The recent coup attempt, the continued threats by Islamic State, the ongoing war with Kurdish separatists, and the state of emergency in Turkey all lead to great concerns for the future.
Social issues: There tends to be a general mistrust and misunderstanding of Christians in a society that is 99% Muslim.
Financial issues: Virtually all Turkish pastors receive no financial help from their churches. The churches are too small. Many pastors end up paying out of their own pockets for rent, utilities, etc. Pastors often have difficulty finding more than part time work.
Church Issues: With so few in attendance, Turkish pastors must carry the full weight of teaching, counseling, outreach, conflict resolution, and many more situations.
In light of these issues, Turkish Connections comes alongside Turkish pastors and provides support and partnership. We stand with pastors by offering prayer, encouragement, counseling, strategic planning, and financial support.
We also try to help new churches to get started. Please pray for the 8 pastors we met with and hope to help in their new churches. All of the work of TCI is a work of God in response to your prayer and financial gifts! Thank you!
Here are some specific requests that you can lift in prayer! For privacy reasons, I will only share the first letter of their name. Thank you.
Pastor D is about to launch a new church in one month
Pastor L is facing critical church struggles
Pastor A is unable to afford his rent
Pastor S seeks guidance and protection for his son while at a university
Pastor R seeks prayer for renewed discipleship and outreach in his church
Pastor S has two boys who are struggling in school
Pastor E has 24/7 police protection due to threats
Pastor L has a very serious physical illness
Pastor U struggles with discouragement and depression
Laura and I serve with a heart of love for our dear brothers and sisters in Turkey. Every time I mention that believers in America care for them, pray for them, and financially support them, they are greatly encouraged!
August 24, 2016
The two young men were appalled by what they saw: multiple families jammed into makeshift housing on the roofs of crumbling apartment buildings. Three generations packed tightly into lean-to shelters without running water or toilets and lacked the most basic supplies. Refik and Demokan, Turkish pastors and friends, were here in the name of Jesus to bring help to some of the thousands of Syrian refugees who have crowded into Turkish cities and villages in search of safety after ISIS terror drove them from home.
Over two million refugees have flooded into Turkey, running from civil war in nearby Syria and Iraq. That number is projected to reach three million by year’s end. While the Turkish government has set up refugee camps in the rural southeastern region in order to help these terrified newcomers, conditions are difficult at best. Long term needs such as jobs, permanent housing and education for children has been slow in coming as policy is being worked out to deal with the overwhelming needs. Many refugees have slipped out of the camps to make their way toward Europe or large Turkish cities farther west.
This dire situation has given Turkish believers like Refik and Demokan an opportunity to bring much more than a cup of water in Jesus’ name. Moved by compassion and the love of Christ, they and their small, humble congregations have stepped up in a mighty way. Each man helps to lead an evangelical church in this home city, as well as run a Christian camp ministry. In addition, the two have secular jobs to support their young families. In the midst of these busy schedules Demokan and Refik felt God calling them to reach out to help the human flood. First, their congregations gave out of their small resources to help those in their own neighborhoods in Ankara and Istanbul. Teams from churches then began to fill truckloads of supplies for the long trek south to the refugee camps. Soon, a nonprofit foundation was formed to enlarge the work and seek other funding sources. These faithful Turkish Christians have gained trust so that they are now working with the blessing of once-wary government officials as they fill and deliver truckload after truckload to the camps. Refugees include Muslim and Christian groups, as well as minority sects such as the Yazidi, who are reviled by those who follow Islam and who suffered unspeakable treatment at the hands of ISIS in their home villages. The Turkish Christians have brought tender care to all of these people, regardless of their religion. They are helping Syrian and Iraqi Christians to start church services and settle into more permanent housing.
That day in the rooftop village, Muslim mothers gratefully accepted food, clothing, diapers and baby formula. Fathers were helped to set up water tanks that now supply showers and toilets. Children robbed of childhood were given toys that brought light to their sad eyes, happily joining impromptu soccer games with team members. Each family was offered an Arabic language Bible, which nearly all accepted. Demokan, Refik and the team of believers left that day knowing they had made life a bit better for these precious ones, breaking down barriers and opening hearts to one day receive the greatest gift, Jesus.
Gifts for this refugee work can be given to Turkish Connections.
A Turkish Coup! What happened?
July 20, 2016
It came as a total surprise!
Who? At this time, the coup appears to have been organized by a military faction who are opposed to the current president, Recep Erdogan. Some in the military believe that Erdogan is moving the country in a more Islamic direction and acquiring almost dictator like powers along the way. He has won every election since 2002, but has polarized the country.
Why? Again, it would appear that those behind the coup wanted to move the country back to a more “secular” standing. They want to return to the vision of the Republic of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa
Kemal. Kemal wanted a government that was separate from Islamic or Sharia law. Under the government of Erdogan, Turkey is embracing more Islamic principles in its daily life. Those in the press who question Erdogan are arrested, and those in the judiciary who rule contrary to his wishes are removed.
What? What impact will these events have on our brothers and sisters in Turkey? Christians are increasingly seen as “traitors” who do not embrace the growing surge of Islamic faithfulness. Religious minorities like Christians have much more to fear now. As one pastor in Turkey stated, “President Erdogan, around whom the country is polarized (half the country loves him and half despise him), so far having survived the worst challenge to his power last night has, I believe, a choice of two things: He can choose to be remembered in history as the person ‘who dismantled and destroyed the whole country’ or ‘who helped root democracy by being inclusive to the opposition parties and to freedoms’. The first would be a tragedy the latter a miracle. Let us all please pray for the miracle.”
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Turkey to stand strong in grace and wisdom in these hard times!
God is on the move in Turkey!
May 23, 2016
Good News in the midst of Turkish challenges!
We hear of all the conflicts in Turkey, but don't always hear of the ways that God is at work!
Here is one great example:
Pastor Humberto in Adana shares that in the midst of "spiritual warfare" and tiredness, he is excited about God's many blessings.
• On Sunday, May 17th, he had the joy to baptize four new believers.
• His church is helping to launch a new church in a nearby community. Every
week in this new fellowship there are 10-15 in attendance.
• Humberto and a leadership team are preparing a Prayer Conference. They are
expecting 500 to attend - both Turks and International workers.
• In June, Pastor Humberto is planning a Men's retreat.
• A media team from his church is preparing a Christian video to show on a
Turkish satellite TV station.
Thank you for your support of
Terrorism in Turkey
March 24, 2016
One of our key pastors in Turkey emailed me two days ago and said that these are “dark days” in Turkey. Earlier this month, a car bomb exploded in downtown Ankara leading to 35 deaths and 125 injured. Less than a week ago, a suicide bomber killed five and injured 35 in a very busy section of Istanbul.
Turkey is in the midst of terrorism from Kurdish separatists and Islamic State. In the midst of this, please pray for Turkey! Pray for protection for all, especially for
Christians who are seeking to proclaim Christ in this challenging environment!
One Turkish pastor recently stated on Facebook that, “I will not be ruled by fear”. But another stated, “I’m worried about my family. I’m worried about my friends. I want to be strong, but I am not succeeding”.
As pastors and Christians in general prepare for Easter Sunday, please pray for churches to be full as the victorious message of the Resurrection is proclaimed!
Thank you for your support of Turkish Connections during 2015!
December 10, 2015
By God's grace and with your support, we have seen 5 new Turkish churches established in 2015. We have also seen extensive growth in our ministry to Syrian refugees by our local Turkish pastors.
Even in the turbulent environment that exists in the Middle East, our Turkish pastors continue to serve faithfully! Turkish churches are growing slowly but steadily. We are hopeful that 5 to 10 churches in 2016 may be possible!
Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas! You are a blessing to the pastors in Turkey and their families! You are making a difference in the Islamic world!
Death Threats Target Turkish Protestant Churches
September 28, 2015
Fifteen Turkish Protestant churches have been sent death threats by Islamic State. These threats have been sent via Facebook, email, websites, and mobile phones. The messages vow to “kill, massacre, and behead apostates” because “you have chosen the path that denies Allah.”
The Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey stated, “threats are not anything new for the Protestant community who live in this country and want to raise their children here.” One Turkish pastor who received IS messages by both email and text said, “They are saying things like they had been waiting for us to return to Islam, and that we are responsible for other Muslims turning to Christ, that our time is up and that Allah will give them our heads.”
These pastors and churches have approached their local government offices and police stations requesting protection, but as of the time of this article, they have received no help. Most of these Turkish congregations are composed of former Muslims.
Please pray for these Turkish believers who continue to serve the Lord faithfully and raise their families with this threat very much on their minds.
Please pray for the ministry of Rich and Laura Freeman as they continue to encourage and lift the hearts of these Turkish pastors and leaders. It means so much to these dear brothers and sisters to know that believers around the world have not forgotten them and are praying for them. We are organizing prayer networks and “adoption” of Turkish churches for the purpose of prayer.
For those who have been praying, all the believers who have received threats are currently safe!
Thank You For Your Partnership
July 16, 2015
Laura and I want to thank you for your partnership in reaching out to Turkey, and ultimately the Middle East, by the establishment of evangelical churches. During our time in Turkey, we have been able to spend time with a dozen Turkish pastors. Many of these pastors feel very isolated. They are so excited to know that their brothers and sisters in America care for them and pray for them.
Two of the pastors we met with are new to TCI and will lead to two new partnerships that are in critical areas of Turkey. Both of these new pastors are struggling to “stay afloat” financially. They greatly appreciate the financial support from TCI that you make possible, as well as the prayer support and encouragement! One of these new pastors shared that their church has been firebombed three times and that he has been seriously beaten for his faith. They asked that we pray for strength in their hard setting. They also ask for prayer as they have adopted two Turkish boys. Adoption is very rare in Turkey and it creates unique challenges for them as well as the boys. Their oldest son was adopted at age four after years of being abused.
We are also in the very early stages of partnering with a third new church in eastern Turkey that we have been praying about for 10 years. We found out that there are three believers in this community and that it may soon be time to establish a new fellowship in this very unreached area.
Here are a few specific requests from the pastors we spent time with:
1. Hamza –Growth for their one year old church.
2. Salih –Healing for his wife who recently experienced a stroke.
3. Demokan –Wisdom with a new church starting in September.
4. Refik–Preparation of new believers for baptism.
5. Levent –Discipling efforts to raise up new leaders.
6. Resit –Grace and wisdom as they raise their three children to follow Christ.
7. Vahan –Working to provide digital Bibles to college age youth whose parents would not allow a physical Bible in the home.
8. Ugur –Protection for his children who are bullied at school due to their faith.
9. Emre –Protection in light of death threats.
10. Carlos –Development of a retreat center.
11. Mark–Outreach to the country through TV and websites.
12. Semir–New church planting among Turks in Bulgaria.
Thank you so much for your partnership in this work! It is your faithfulness that has enabled TCI to come alongside 25 Turkish churches and see God’s Kingdom grow in this country! Please lift up our Muslim friends whom we continue to point to Jesus!
Yours for Reaching Turkey,