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Not Without a Witness

Not Without a Witness

From 400-1400 AD, there existed a massive Christendom extending from North Africa to China. In the middle of this once-Christian realm sits the city of Mardin, in southeastern Turkey. It is still home to a handful of Orthodox Syriani Christians claiming spiritual heritage from the Apostle Thomas who, according to church tradition, evangelized the region on his way to India.  

In the 1850’s, a small protestant church was started by a handful of missionaries and a local believer from a nearby city. They acquired property and built a church facility, in this ancient city of Mardin. The church closed in the 1960’s, after decades of persecution and flight, and the facility was turned over to the Orthodox Church where it was used as a storage depot. In truth, it seemed like the Lord left this city with no true witness for Christ. 

In 2011, the Meberg family, with the support of World Witness, moved to Mardin to pioneer a church once again. For one year prior to this, they forged a relationship with the only other Protestant congregation in the region, the Diyarbakir Church, located 90 minutes away. They forged this relationship, not through high-level meetings, but by serving that church – driving a van to pick up congregants, cleaning facilities, whatever was needed.   

The Mebergs then had the blessing of the Diyarbakir Church to begin the dream of pioneering a church where none existed – in Mardin. Several years later, the work yielded only a few potential disciples. Then, without warning, the Meberg family was forced out of Turkey by the Turkish government, and the small band of believers seemed all but lost.    

But the Diyarbakir Church did not forget the Mebergs’ commitment and their responsibility to those who sent them to Mardin. One year after the Mebergs left Mardin, the Diyarbakir Church sent their own Turkish pastor, “Yusuf,” to pick up where the Mebergs left off. 

In April, I visited “Yusuf,” now an International Ministry Associate (IMA) of World Witness. He, his wife, and three daughters (9, 8, 4) have not only kept the work going but have seen it grow. By the grace of God and guidance of the Meberg family, the old protestant facility of the 1850’s was given back to this budding church plant. In fact, the city government even lists the church among its historic sites, and it receives hundreds of visitors every week.   

During the high-tourist season, the church averages about 200 visitors a day. The pastor gives out dozens of New Testaments daily and shares the Gospel with hundreds of individuals and tourist groups weekly. One day I watched this man and his colleagues engage in hours of conversation about the Gospel and handing out New Testaments. Later that same day, I saw a teenage Turkish boy walking down the street reading the Gospel message from the introductory page of the New Testament he had received, after visiting the church.   

Even though the Meberg family is not in Mardin today, nor directly a part of the work, the Lord continues to honor their efforts and has sustained the ministry through the Turkish pastor and his family. The 1,000 years of Christendom may not return anytime soon, but the Lord will not be left without a witness, even in some of the most desolate places on earth. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to give my best years to the Lord, knowing I may never see the fruit of my labor but also knowing God will honor my efforts to see His Gospel extend to the ends of the earth?” The Lord will not be left without a witness. Will you be that witness? 

Please consider supporting our IMA?, ?“Yusuf?,?”? ?and his family?, ?as they carry on this vital ministry in Turkey?.  

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