I know God's presence is here. I can feel His tender touch in the winter breeze, I sense his comfort through the rays of sunlight. God is with us. Through all our struggles, our celebrations, our fears, He is constantly beaming His enduring love down on our team.
During the last week in Turkey, our team experienced God's presence in a random, yet beautiful way. He opened the eyes of a student on our team to show us that Christ has us all under His wings. God gave her the vision to see His angels working among each individual person while we were worshiping in a historical building called St. Johns Church. Through that, everyone got to see how God was using them and how much He deeply loved us. The timing was perfect. Everyone on our team got to hear what their Angel was doing and it lifted up all our spirits! That day at St. John's Church will be a day that remains in all our hearts. It was such an encouragement to see the unique ways our Papa shines His promises down on us! Praise God for sight!
Oh the great author of divine appointments! How beautiful are those moments! Countless faces, countless interactions, countless passing by..and yet somehow our God works in the mysterious realm, ways unimaginable, beyond our realizations. Often when our minds are consumed with continuous motion and continuous attempts to step out, God will humble us by revealing that it is not us, but rather He, who sets up the appointments we have. Certain people we may not have had opportunities to talk to are delivered to us on a silver platter, by the grace of God, to hear what we have to say. Never failing to surprise us, God delivered this simple man on a moped to one of our team members. Handing out tracts one day, this member waited on the side of the road for a break in traffic. Holding fast to her position, she noticed a man on a moped approaching but didn't really think much of it (seeing as it was a passing vehicle.) This moped, however, was touched by the hand of God at that perfect moment and BOOM. Broke down. Right there. Right in front of her. For 5 or so minutes this helpless man tried to get his vehicle started, but (seeing as it was a divine appointment) it wouldn't budge. Still standing on the side of the road, a little confused, our girl pondered what she should to about the situation unraveling in front of her eyes. Finally, looking down at her hand, it dawned on her that she was to give him a tract! So daring as she was to step in faith, she ran into the road and gave this man (who had to take off his big glove and everything) the small piece of paper she held in her hand. He looked startled at first but took it regardless, and tried once more to start his vehicle. Funny thing is, after she gave that moped man a tract, his vehicle started immediately and he drove off! Our God works in so many mysterious and bizarre ways! How great it is to serve a God full of surprises and divine appointments?
Spiritual Warfare in Turkey
Our team felt a heavy/demonic presence from the second we stepped foot out of the airport in Istanbul till the time we left Turkey. In the airport as we arrived there were thousands of Muslims gathered for the Ramadan which was a very interesting welcoming experience. We never really thought much of it until we started to individually get attacked. In Selcuk most of the team felt a heavy, demonic, down feeling, and a few of us were attacked physically. We prayed over them, casted out Satan and encouraged them to read their bibles more and really press into the word. One day we went onto a hill that overlooked the city and began to claim the land back for Jesus, finally for the first time we felt some sort of neutral ground and that's when the physical attacks started to begin. We told Satan he had no place in this country and stood firm because with God he is nothing and a nobody. This did lighten the feeling a little bit but even the last days there it was very heavy! God is doing great thing in the place it's just taking time.
While In Turkey two of the students had an exciting God filled encounter with Turkish Gypsies. On the last day the team had some extra food left over. It was decided to take the extra food to a family they met on a prayer walk earlier that month. They walked about a mile and arrived at the little shacks. The gypsies families have nothing. They often travel around living in anything that looks decent. They are also treated badly and looked down upon from other Turkish people. To be a gypsy means you are poor and filthy. The two students handed over the bags of food and it was quickly taken. The gypsies then invited them in for tea. The students then sat in a small hut half their height, and only a person long and drank tea. Seven other gypsies sat and talked with them the best they could. The conversation lasted an hour, mostly consisting of the children laughing at them. They were so excited to have Americans in their house. They exchanged addresses and the students are planning to send bibles and track to the gypsies. It was a great experience for the students, it really showed the Turkish gypsy culture and hospitality. Their hearts were touched forever.
It has been four days here in Russia and we can already see that God has real big plans for us here. We have many ministries here already set up and we are excited that we have such a diverse group of people that we will be working with. From alcoholics to the homeless, we are thankful that God has opened up so much doors for us here in Russia
Two days ago, we drove for about two hours to a remote area in the countryside, to work with the people in Drug Rehab. We were a little nervous yet excited that we would have the privilege to work with these people. When we arrived to the site, there were about 70 people in a small room anxious to hear our stories and what we had planned for them. Three of our team members were able to share their testimonies and we as a team got to perform our skits, which turned out very well. Afterwards, we jumped into a time of worship and prayer. As we were worshiping, we could feel the presence of God in that room, as the Russians started to yell out prayers, sing, and full out worship the Lord. Very quickly, the spirit led us announce that if anyone wanted prayer, that they could come up to the front and that we would pray for them individually. Majority of the people got up and asked for prayers; we prayed for bondages to be broken and that they would come to know Christ at an intimate level. Of course, there were other prayers prayed but the spirit led us that night, and some of us prayed with words that they would have never spoken before.
It was an amazing experience for all of us and we are marveled by what God is doing not only in our lives but the lives of others: who we believe, by faith, will come to know Christ. And so, we end the night by giving thanks and glory to the Lord, who has remained faithful always and forever.