Sunday, August 28, 2005

Ravi Zacharias is coming to Turkey!

From October 9-15, Dr. Zacharias will be speaking at various locations in Istanbul and Ankara. Ravi is a world renowned Christian apologist and this is his first visit to Turkey. More details about specific locations will appear later. For more information about Dr. Zacharias, please click on the link below.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cell phones are a part of everyone's daily life here in Turkey. I'm amazed at how connected they are as a society. It's gotten so I'm never surprised to see anyone using a cellphone, from covered grandmas to small children. The best illustration of this I've seen was this picture a friend of mine took. Now even the quiet countryside isn't safe when a shepherd is always in touch. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 22, 2005

Trakya, the ancient region that is now the European section of Turkey, has been the home to many peoples and religions over the years, but their has been no modern church there. That is changing, slowly but surely, as new followers of Christ are added to a growing young church. Pray for this region, and the new believers there. Yesterday, 3 new believers were baptized at a picnic area, while surrounded by new believers from all over the region. It was a blessing for all involved! Posted by Picasa

Istanbul, the coolest city in the world

Istanbul is on the cover of this week's European Newsweek:

"After so many decades of trying to become Western, Istanbul glories in the rediscovery of a very modern identity. European or not, it is one of the coolest cities in the world."

"Spend a summer night strolling down Istanbul's Istiklal Caddesi, the pedestrian thoroughfare in the city's old Christian quarter of Beyoglu, and you'll hear something surprising. Amid the crowds of nocturnal revelers, a young Uzbek-looking girl plays haunting songs from Central Asia on an ancient Turkic flute called a saz. Nearby, bluesy Greek rembetiko blares from a CD store. Downhill toward the slums of Tarlabasi you hear the wild Balkan rhythms of a Gypsy wedding, while at 360, an ultratrendy rooftop restaurant, the sound is Sufi electronica—cutting-edge beats laced with dervish ritual. And then there are the clubs—Mojo, say, or Babylon—where the young and beautiful rise spontaneously from their tables to link arms and perform a complicated Black Sea line dance, the horon. The wonder is that each and every one of these styles is absolutely native to the city, which for much of its history was the capital of half the known world."

"After decades of provincialism, decay and economic depression—not to mention the dreary nationalism mandated by a series of governments dominated by the military—Istanbul is re-emerging as one of Europe's great metropolises. "Istanbul is experiencing a rebirth of identity," says Fatih Akin, director of this summer's award-winning film "The Sound of Istanbul," an odyssey through the city's rich musical traditions. Akin grew up in Germany but during the past decade has rediscovered his Turkish roots. "There's such richness," he says. "So many people have crossed Istanbul and left their culture here."

"Europe may yet balk at admitting Turkey to its Union. Yet the world won't end if it does. All signs suggest that Istanbul will continue to re-create itself, perhaps even more energetically. Remember the sounds of Istanbul's streets—European and Turkish and Balkan and Middle Eastern, all coming together in a strange but beautiful harmony."
Turkish Delight - Newsweek: International Editions -

Saturday, August 20, 2005

1,000-year-old church is being restored

"Rainwater seeps through the conical dome of Akhtamar's thousand-year-old church, washing away biblical frescoes from one of the finest surviving monuments of ancient Armenian culture. Bullet holes pock the sandstone walls.

After a century of neglect and decades of political wrangling, Turkey has begun to restore the church. The renovation comes as Turkish leaders face pressure from the European Union to improve their treatment of minorities."

"The church is the lone building on a tiny island in a lake. It is covered in scaffolding, as masons replace fallen roof stones to stop rainwater and rebuild the basalt floor dug out by treasure hunters. Experts also will try to restore the frescoes in the interior.

"This is our positive approach, our message," said Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has staked his rule on winning membership in the EU."

"Akhtamar has been empty for decades. Some of its reliefs are stained with paint and eggs thrown by vandals. Bullet holes, apparently from shepherds who used the site for target practice, mar the walls.

The church is considered one of the most important examples of Armenian architecture.

Elaborate reliefs project up to 4 inches from brownish-red sandstone walls, almost like sculptures. Some depict biblical stories, such as Jonah being swallowed by the whale and Daniel in the lion's den. Others show cows, lions, birds and other animals to remind worshippers that the church is an image of paradise."
Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Religion: "1,000-year-old church is being restored"

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

What is Muslim Bible Day?

Is your church participating in Muslim Bible Day?

"For 1,400 years, the church has been neglecting, avoiding and running away from Islam. But now, their time has come. God is at work among Muslims... and Believers throughout America are becoming purposefully involved in this movement of God through Muslim Bible Day.

This strategic project is a cooperative effort of churches across America to provide the Scriptures for those in the Muslim world. This year, hundreds of churches will be designating a special Sunday to collect gifts and offerings to be used for publishing and distributing Bibles in Muslim countries.

Today, there are fewer Bibles available to the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims than for any other major people group. Most Muslims have never even seen a Bible, let alone have a copy of their own.

For several years, a group of ministries has been operating a secret distribution network in the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia. This work has been done at great risk to local believers who are committed to presenting the Gospel to the followers of Islam. Thousands of Bibles have already been discretely placed in the hands of Muslims… yet millions more are needed.

You can make the difference. Observe Muslim Bible Day in your church, small group, Sunday School class or Bible study and help make the Scriptures available to those who have never had a chance to hear the Gospel."
What is Muslim Bible Day?

St. Helena's Chapel (Istanbul)

Battle to save a past and hopefully future church building:


1. In Turkey protestants are only supposed to meet in Churches that are zoned as places of worship.

2. A number of the Turkish fellowships rent old churches, and thus satisfy the laws.

3. St Helenas Chapel is part of the British Consulate. It was damaged by bombing. The Foreign Office has plans to sell the site to a hotel, and close the chapel for worship.

4. The church council for Istanbul is fighting these plans, and needs community support.

5. St Helenas could be used in the future for a fellowship.

Phase One of our campaign to save St Helena’s Chapel Istanbul following the al-Quaeda bombing of 2003 has ended. The Church Council has succeeded in stopping the developer’s work on the site mostly thanks to the court action in June 2005. Access to the Chapel and freedom of worship there continues to be forbidden by the Consul-General, though an independent view suggests the Chapel is reasonably safe. The Consulate has not yet signified the Foreign Office’s intention to cease pursuing the commercialisation of the property. The damage, illegally done to our churchyard by the developer with the permission of the Foreign Office, remains a sorry daily wound for all of us to endure.

Phase Two. As the Chapel has been situated on British Government land for centuries for the purposes of Turkish Law, phase two involves a serious appeal through the democratic procedures available to us, The Mother of Parliaments. A question has been asked in the House of Commons. The Foreign Secretary has responded, but in a most insufficient manner. His response does not demonstrate any awareness of the elected and appropriate body whose duty it is to administer the affairs of St Helena’s Chapel, The Church Council. The Foreign Secretary defers to the Bishop who does not legally reside in Turkey and is unable to judge or witness locally on our behalf, but to whose spiritual rights we naturally defer."

St. Helena's Chapel (Istanbul): 11 Jul 2005: Written answers (

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Democracy key to development

Freedom for Turkey should mean more freedom for the Church of Turkey, let's pray that is what will come to pass:

"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that democracy was necessary in order to ensure a just and equally distributed development of the nation, adding that the people of Turkey were full of hope for their future."

"He said democracy was the key to just development, and it was their duty to make it stronger. 'Those who say this nation cannot rule itself are lying. Our three quarters of a century republican history has shown that when the country was governed by the people, it always advanced,' said Erdoğan."

"He called on the AKP supporters to be united against all efforts to split them, adding: 'Don't forget the fact the multi-party system in Turkey started in 1946. Since then, Turkey has had 59 governments. It means, on average, there was a new government every year.'

Erdoğan claimed the opposition was failing to keep their party organizations intact and they were calling for early elections to divert attention.

He said: 'Their only aim is to benefit from terror. If you know a solution to the issue, say it. The AKP is not the only organization responsible for combating terrorism in this country. All institutions will unite against terrorism.'"
Turkish Daily News - Erdoğan: Democracy key to development

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Right to Wear Your Underwear in Public

A government movement to stop people from swimming in their underwear has brought to light some more important questions:

"Turkey is taking its campaign to join the European Union to the beaches of Istanbul.

The city is giving away free swimsuits to deter bathers from jumping into the sea in their underwear. About 2,000 were distributed last weekend and stalls were also set up to sell them for $2 apiece, a spokeswoman for Mayor Kadir Topbas said. A pair of shorts sells for $10 at local supermarkets."

" Turkey is smartening up after EU politicians including German opposition leader Angela Merkel and French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said the country doesn't share the culture of the 25-member bloc. The government's drive to dress Turkish swimmers has sparked a debate about the rich-poor divide in the country, where the minimum wage is $265 a month.

``Is this the face of modern Turkey, of the Turks who are trying to enter the EU?'' wrote columnist Hincal Uluc in Sabah newspaper on Aug. 9. ``Would any European country want a majority like this wandering around?''

Turks' income per person is just 27 percent of the EU average, after adjusting for local prices, according to the EU Statistics Office in Brussels. Almost one million people have earnings below the hunger threshold and another 19 million live in poverty, according to Turkey's State Statistics Institute.

What's more, income distribution is more unbalanced than in any European country apart from Russia, according to the United Nations Development Program's 2004 report. The richest 10 percent of Turks earn more than 13 times that of the poorest 10 percent." Europe

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Fiction is Stranger Than Truth

First, this author has the US and Turkey in a full blown war over a minor conflict between soldiers in Iraq, in his next novel Burak Turna turns his conspiracy obsessed eyes to the whole world:

"The book describes how 'a secret world-wide organization of capitalists and religious leaders try to shape today's political arena into a worldwide war, so they can take the right position in a process almost unstoppable' - a process which would appear to make Armaggedon sound quite tranquil in comparison."

"First the US and China clash over Taiwan; the US Navy is reduced to "scrap" by "Chinese might." Neo-Nazism returns to Europe, this time targeting Muslims too, leading the Russians and the "great Turkish army" to invade. Meanwhile, India is invading Guam for some reason and the Turkish commandos and Chinese spies are trying to thwart the US from fulfilling its ambitions to use a"crazy space gun" to wipe out the Red Army. Brr!" Rapid Reactions: Turkey's "Metal Storm" Author Tops the Charts with "World War III" Sequel

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Istanbul is built on the water. With seas to the north and the south and the Bosphoros Strait running down the middle, people in Istanbul spend a lot of time near or on the water. It is one of the many things that highlights life in Istanbul. Riding on a boat is a relaxing way to get from one place to the next and a good reflection of life here. It provides a great chance to stop and chat while you are on your way. A focus on relationships is one of the great things about living in Turkey, and sometimes one of the most difficult for us to understand. It's good that sometimes we are forced to stop and wait on things and escape the rush of life. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 04, 2005

EU Warns Turkey on Religious Freedom

"The European Commission said on Thursday it had written to Turkey complaining about legislation on religious foundations that did not meet EU standards for the rights of non-Muslim communities."

"Turkey is working on a new law meant to ease property restrictions on its non-Muslim minorities, including Orthodox Christians, though EU diplomats have said the current draft does not go far enough.

Istanbul-based Patriarch Bartholomew, ecumenical head of the Orthodox Church, has long complained that his church suffers from numerous petty bureaucratic regulations that prevent it from freely using property it owns."
The Epoch Times | EU Warns Turkey on Religious Freedom

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Culture Tourism Boom in Turkey Makes Retailers Happy

It's interesting that they talk about faith tourism in this article, but they neglect to mention most of the more prominent Christian destinations.

"Turkey has begun to bear the fruits of advertising its cultural heritage. A boom in tourism is taking place in cities renowned for their historical heritage.

Turkish tourism, long restricted within the “sea-sun-beach” triangle, has begun to reap the fruits of advertising its historical and cultural heritage. The number of tourists who visited such cities as Sanliurfa, Mardin, Konya, and Trabzon renowned for their rich historical heritage is growing."

"Faith and cultural tourism have great potential in Turkey that already receives a great deal of income through coastal tourism, as local prices are considerably lower than European countries. Through promotional advertisements and cultural events, tourists are flocking to Anatolia that harbors a rich array of cultures and religions."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Taxi Rant:

Taxis are a way of life here in Istanbul. They crowd the streets and it seems like they are always in the way, unless you really need one. It's especially hard to find one when it is raining. Sometimes I wonder how much clearer the streets would be without taxis in the way. When you drive, you really see traffic laws pushed to the limits by taxis. Sometimes I think that the driving courses must be taught by former taxi drivers. One of our favorite annonyances is when they "troll" for passengers. Taxi drivers slowly lurk in the street side lane, hoping to find someone to get in their taxi. It seems like they stay in the way, only pulling out when you are about to pass. The joys of big city driving!  Posted by Picasa