Living and Sharing Hope

by - February 23, 2015

It's early on a Saturday morning and I just woke up in the home I grew up in.  I'm walking back through my memories of these past couple of weeks, as I am listening to familiar clocks tick in the early jet lag hours I usually enjoy after a long trip away from home. The red flag of Turkey flapping in the wind.  They like their flag as much as we like ours.  Languages and faces unfamiliar to me.  Thick Turkish coffee, chewy Turkish delight, cold against my face, friends by my side, and God with us. Everywhere.

I began the story of our trip in my previous blog, so after a few days of planned events, on a not too long ago Monday, we took an afternoon to visit a few land marks in Istanbul. We wanted to see the Hagia Sophia that was a Church for over a thousand years and then a mosque and now a secularized museum protected to share and preserve the remnants of both stories of one amazing building;  but it was closed on Mondays. #wallyworld. Across a shared courtyard stands the very visually impressive Blue Mosque. So we walked across and snacked on roasted chestnuts along the way.  Then with scarves over our heads and the shoes off of our feet we went inside. Stunning in multiple ways... With the scarves down, our shoes back on and probably our hearts a little in our throats, we walked away from the mosque back toward the ferry that would carry us the 15 minute ride to Asia to prepare for our next meeting that night.

Hagia Sophia

Blue Mosque

We met with a group of young Believers in a small room with low ceilings a long table, tea, and donuts.  I shared with them based on our ministry topic of Victimization. It is one of my favorite topics to discuss with others as it opens eyes to the choice we can make through Christ to live free regardless of circumstances we have faced. We talked about watching for this tendency to live as a victim not only in our own actions, but to speak truth in love to one another. To encourage, and be trustworthy listeners. All for the call to make disciples. They are a great group whose love for one another is so very evident. What a joy to share that night with them.  I won't share their faces, but I am going to share their voices. I like to record them singing because I just think it is beautiful to hear songs of worship in other languages. When you hear "Isa" that is the name Jesus.

The next day we found ourselves driving and ferry-ing to a town near Istanbul where we had the privilege of meeting the Church working hard to serve one another through some unimaginable-to-me circumstances. People who have been forced to leave their very nearby countries because of war and religious persecution, have been resettled in this community.  Several hundred now rely on the love and care that comes out of the little church building where we gathered. Turkish, Arabic, and Farsi languages are spoken and have opportunity to have resources for Hope through our ministry. Honestly, they were much less interested in our being there that night, than they were in knowing if we would come back.  When we are able to share how our books will help make a practical and purposeful connection between the hurts, fear, pain and sin nature of our hearts and application of God's Word, to help meet the emotional and spiritual needs of those they serve it does not take long for those we meet to want us to help them learn how. That kind of think can make me get up early in the morning; pointing people to Hope through relationship with Jesus Christ, and application of God's word through the power of the Holy Spirit.  All. Day. Long.  Not that being tired is never a factor, or being unsettled, or jet lagged, it is...but it doesn't matter.  How could it?  We press on, not because of who we are, but because of who Christ is.

Due to scheduling needs of our partners, we had three days in between training events.  As we prayed about opportunities and after leaving the door open for additional meetings, we found a three day window to do a little side exploration on our days off.  It was our weekend days, and so on our own resources we took one of our partners up on an excursion to see some of the biblical sites in Turkey.  We flew to Izmir rented a car and started a road trip to see the Seven Churches of Revelation. I like a good road trip.  It is most definitely the off-season to do this, so in the very cold we had many of these sites to ourselves.  It is so surreal to me that God blesses me in this way.  Those who know me, know I am not an adventurer.  But, I have put my life in His hands to make of it what He wills.  I remember the lines of a song I listened to over and over when I first began to let go to Him..."bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free, bring me anything that brings you glory..."  I think He continually does the opposite of who I've always thought I am, to show that who He says we are is always more.  Always better.  Even when confusing...Always for our good and for His glory.  There is glory to be seen through each of us.  Probably like you, I've prayed for other blessings than the ones I've been given in order to show him glory, but the more I just relax and let him lead, the more this life brings me joy as my heart delights in Him....  Here are some of my favorites from our excursion:







What is left of St. John's Basilica, where it is accepted that St. John was buried.

This is the great theater of Ephesus.  Paul preached here and it is mentioned in Acts 19.

The Library at Ephesus.


Back in Istanbul we prepared for three days of training with a group of Believers who cannot worship openly.  One woman who attended shared that she became a follower of Christ 4 years ago, and this was only the second time she had ever gathered with a group of other Believers.  Can you imagine?  The church here in Edmond I've joined has 4 services for people to choose from each week.  #northchurch And this is the second time in 4 years she had the opportunity to be in a room others.  My first thought was "and the Lord sent us?!?!"  My second remembrance was that He will do what He says He will do.  He sent us.  He will do through us, whatever He has promised to do for all of us that spent those days together, talking about Hope, Loneliness, Fear, Confession and Repentance, and seeing ourselves through God's eyes.  They wrestle with the teaching.  We pray and always take them back to the Word where the answers are found. They say out-loud their doubt, and dig into every minute we are working together. The culture they have lived is in such contradiction to freedom and grace and forgiveness.  It's hard for them to buy into, and even harder to consider giving out to others.  They have believed that Jesus is the Son of God, but allowing Him to change them, and trust His Word for them is much more difficult.  Sound familiar?  However, as understanding and truth dawns, relief and praise and confidence and courage usually follow. They must search for a much deeper well of courage than I have ever had to face.  In being witness to them, I am so much more aware of all that we have to be thankful for. What a gift.  A gift I hope to share with you through sharing these stories.  Again, I won't show their faces, but here are a few pictures, and a song that I can hear without even pressing play...

God's word is to be lived, not just read. Jesus is to be followed, not just admired.  God is to be loved, not just obeyed.  Our lives are to be transformed, not just raced through.  We are to be healed, not just anesthetized.  Our chains are to be broken, not carried around.  Day by day this is my story, this is my song; and through this ministry we get to share this Hope with others.  The power is not in the ministry, the power is in the Word of God and I am so grateful He works through this ministry and that I get to be part of it.

I'll end this blog with an example.  Romans 12:9-21.  What would it look like if we saw this as our to-do list, and did it?  Would we grow in love?  Would there be more wisdom?  More peace?  More good?  More rejoicing? Where we see our lives not lined up....that is the first place to start. Rejoice not envy. Patient in affliction...mourn when others mourn...

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 

10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 
13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 
20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Amen.  Only through Jesus Christ is such transformation possible.  He is the one who is strong when we are weak.  He is the one who loves us and has made a way for us.  Many of you prayed for this trip.  The people who would come to the trainings, for my co-worker and I, for our partners in-country.  Especially when we were flying out of Istanbul during a blizzard.  I have to pray a lot to overcome fear. I haven't dealt with the level of anxiety that preparing to fly out in those weather conditions caused in quite a while.  I had to practice what I preach, and I had to cry while doing it.  Knowing you were praying meant so much, because I know God acts when we pray...come what may.  I was reading the Word as I sat on the plane and went to Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  I usually stop there, but kept going and saw what Paul shared with the church who prayed for him...."Yet, it was kind of you to share my troubles."  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, yet it was kind of you to share this with me. I think that is a good picture of praying for one another.  We can do whatever Christ leads us to do...yet, it is kind that we pray, encourage one another and share the load.  One Church. POTC.

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  1. Haley, I'm happy you're home and that we had some time to visit last week in the office. As always, I am blessed by your gift of know how much I love words! :-) And it's your words that keep me on my knees when you are traveling, and on my face before Him when you return with such powerful testimony of how He works in the lives of those who are sold out to His call.