Christian workers in Turkey were concerned when the grim man in charge of the refugee camp they visited a few months ago gave them one of his more stern looks.
Muslim extremists often land at such unofficial camps, and word spreads that the native missionaries bringing aid to the tents pray with refugees and leave Bibles for them. The refugee camp leader summoned the local missionaries to talk with them over tea.
“Last week while distributing things to the children, you were praying, and you gave some people copies of the Bible,” he told them.
The ministry leader thought, “Now this man is angry with us and will say, ‘You are just underhanded missionaries – don’t bring anything else to us again!’”
Instead, the camp leader called out to the nearby crowd in Arabic for someone to come over to them, the ministry leader said.
“A man came over from a large group of people, and the camp leader said to us, ‘This man had surgery, and he wants your prayers for him.’ We were very happy, and we came to him and began to pray.”
Another refugee and some children came over for prayer, and he allowed the native missionaries to pray for him as well, he said.
“After we finished, the people called, ‘Come, gather the children, and these men will pray for the children, that they would be protected from harm,’” the leader said. “They gathered the children in the area together, and we prayed for them. These people truly had very hard hearts, but through your prayers, their hearts are changing.”
Afterward the camp leader thanked them for the aid the workers had brought for his people, he said.
Hope for the Hopeless
The gospel is rapidly spreading among the predominantly Muslim refugees living in tent camps or ramshackle apartments, people without hope who have found a way forward by putting their trust in Christ, the leader said.
“Like we see in Mark 2 when the people brought their ill loved ones to the Lord Jesus, 2,000 years later people still come to find healing for the sick from the Lord Jesus,” he said.
Recently workers were about to leave a camp where they had distributed food, water and other aid when someone brought a disabled child to them and asked for prayer.
“We explained that we don’t have any power in ourselves,” the leader said. “I told them that they should pray to the Lord Jesus, who does have power. ‘Okay, we will do this, but please at least pray a small prayer,’ they told us. So, we prayed for the child. The people here now are beginning to think about spiritual things.”
Native missionaries discipled a Syrian refugee who now helps to distribute aid weekly and explains the gospel. Every evening he receives calls from people who have received aid who ask him to explain Bible passages to them, the leader said.
“Now they are interested in what the Bible says,” he said. “And if there are people who are ill, they send pictures to him, requesting that he pray for them. Because of the support that you have provided, we have been able to show the love of Jesus Christ to the hearts of these people.”
A mother with three children fled to Turkey eight years ago, after Islamic State (ISIS) militants kidnapped her husband. She’d lost one of her children to disease by the time she made it to the refugee camp.
Harvesting onions, she has managed to support herself and her children, the ministry leader said. She told him that nearly everyone in her life wants something from her except the native missionaries.
The refugee mother had read the account of Christ feeding thousands of people with a few fish and a little bread in the New Testament that local workers had given her – and that likewise the 10-day supply of food boxes they had distributed had lasted for nearly 20 days, she told him.
“I asked, her, ‘Okay then, will you not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?’ Crying, she said, ‘I left Islam in Syria because of the killers who kidnapped my husband. I am left in emptiness, but I am reading the New Testament and will keep reading it,’” he said. “There are many women here like her, and they and their children are able to survive because of your support. At the same time, they are hearing the gospel because of your generosity.”
Native workers are bringing the love of Christ to refugees in various parts of Turkey. Please consider a donation today to equip them for the task.