“I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
1 Cor. 2:3-5
I love being around gifted and anointed people that are doing what God has gifted them to do. It’s exciting, humbling, and, sometimes, fruitful. However, what I enjoy even more, is being around normal people that have given everything they have to advance the Kingdom of God. Many of them are not powerful speakers, teachers, or leaders – they are, simply, being obedient. They, like Paul, are living lives that demonstrate the power of God in the nations of the world.
Recently Michelle, the kids and I were able to spend 4 weeks in Turkey. While we were there, we were able to see first hand how God is using those “of whom the world is not worthy” to disciple the nations through the demonstration of God’s power and love.
As many of you know, in 2007, we planted New Covenant Church in Kusadasi, Turkey (the modern-day city of Ephesus). In 2019, we transitioned the leadership to a Turkish couple, Mehmet & Nihal, who had been our associate pastors. Under their leadership, the church continues to grow and be an influence in the city and the nation! The current body of believers in Ephesus represent more than a dozen different nationalities and languages. This is a similar situation or context to what was happening in Ephesus around 2000 years ago. In Acts 19:8-10, we see Paul stayed in Ephesus for two years, and while he was there, all the residents of Asia heard the Gospel. All!
At the time, Ephesus was a multi-cultural city, the capital city of the Roman Empire for the continent of Asia. Amazingly, we see this same thing happening in Ephesus (Kusadasi) today. When we planted the church, the city had a population of 50,000. Today, 15 years later, the population is over 120,000 and growing! People are coming from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and North America. The world is coming to Ephesus and HIS church is being established there once again. In fact, Michelle and I believe that it is happening again BECAUSE His church has been established!
Not only that, but H4N has helped to plant a second church in the Ephesus region (a smaller city to the north). It is a new church and smaller, but community is developing, people are coming to Christ and discipleship is occurring on a daily basis! The leader, Nese, is a pillar in the community and well-loved and trusted in the city. She is bringing a spiritual atmosphere to the city that will transform it into a Kingdom of God city!
Finally, just up the road in Izmir (the modern-day city of biblical Smyrna), H4N has been involved in overseeing the planting of an Arabic speaking church led by Syrian refugees. God is on the move! Arabic speaking refugees (primarily from Syria) are coming to the Lord through miraculous dreams, visions, and physical and spiritual healing! Recently, they had a Syrian refugee man come into the church, he was high on methamphetamine and was an admitted alcoholic. After praying for the man, he gave his heart to the Lord and was immediately healed from all drugs and alcohol. He has been coming to the church now for 3 months now, without a single recurrence! In fact, he has been sharing his faith with other refugees and bringing them to church! It is truly an example of Paul’s words that he came “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
During our time in Turkey, we noticed that the spiritual atmosphere was darker and more oppressive than we’ve seen it in years, and yet, we sat with leader after leader who shared testimony after testimony of God’s goodness and His miraculous power through signs and wonders and the power of biblical discipleship!
God is moving BEYOND the borders of the typical. In fact, typical and normal have left the building – the power of God is on display in Turkey!