Everyone always asks if it is safe in this Muslim country and whether or not the police try to arrest us for sharing the truth concerning Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
SECRET POLICE FORCE
The head of the secret police in the Ephesus region has been doing his job in trying to figure out why this foreigner is living in Turkey and what I am trying to accomplish. He learned about my open profession to one and all that I am a follower of Jesus Christ and knows I give literature to anyone open minded enough to read the Bible. I am on a first name basis with most of the police force and have given Bibles to many of them. The secret police now look out for my best interest since I am neither doing anything illegal nor forcing anything on anyone. The head of the secret police now is planning to send his son to stay with my church family in the USA and learn English for 3 to 6 months. Pray this youngster has the opportunity to stay in the USA and be exposed to the truth and to our Christian family life of which few Muslims know little. I bet you are surprised to see such behavior and protection of me as a Christian in a Muslim country when Christians are being criticized or belittled in secular societies. As I always say, there is no law against loving people and here in Ephesus it is safer than most places in the USA.
MILITARY POLICE ESCORTS
On our way to Laodicea we stopped at a “hole in the wall” museum which houses some Lydian treasures dating centuries before Jesus Christ and are the best in the world. After viewing the exhibit, a small white car, which one of the ladies noticed, followed us for miles. Soon military police were following us, people were watching us with binoculars when we stopped to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with villagers, and unmarked cars joined in on tailing us. The military police stopped us eventually as I thought we would loose our Bibles and get taken to city hall. I was questioned and I noticed my voice was cracking from fear. The police were friendly and more relaxed when I told them we were not Russians. The police already knew we were giving Bibles away since they watched us and took our pictures. The police then wanted to escort us to our destination at an old monastery that may have housed early Christians who knew the Apostle John, wanted to introduce us to their families and fiancée, and wanted to take us to the Mosque to learn about Islam. We realized that they thought we were trying to deal in ancient artifacts which can be found everywhere in the Asia Minor region. We gave literature to everyone after one military police saw that Thyatira, where he did his military service, was located on the map in the back of the Bible and asked if he could receive a Bible wherein everyone then wanted in on the act. Even inside the Mosque we gave Bibles to those coming to pray and we were rewarded with a new Quran, socks, and scarves from the Imam. The police not only escorted us to our destinations and introduced us to their friends and family but called ahead on their radios and had other police show us the correct roads to take as we worked our way to Laodicea.
While hugging the Mediterranean coast we visited the area where the Apostle Paul came inland on his first mission journey. We were inside some of the old ruins and some hawkers/salesmen gave us some small trinkets as gifts. Well, turn about is fair play so I heard, so we gave our new friends “gifts” in return and then toured the ruins. As we were walking out of the ruins the military police stopped us and began to ask many questions. Who are we? What are we doing giving away Bibles? Do we have receipts? For whom do we work? We explained why we believe in Jesus and that one person amongst us was healed of cancer and is the longest living cancer survivor on earth from the M.D. Anderson cancer center. We told the police that because of redemption and healing we testify of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and explain both here in Turkey as well as in the USA why He had to die. The police took me to a place that had a public phone while they called the police station to explain who we were. The police told the chief over the phone how we were saved and how one person was healed and that all of our literature was legally purchased in Turkey. Now the two military cops walked me back to the vehicle and in perfect English told the group that they were sorry for our being detained but that a complaint had been made and they were obligated to check everything out. They then asked for two copies of everything we had as evidence since a complaint had been filed.
LAW ABIDING CITIZENS
Abraham is a local police officer in Ephesus and as a result of his position understands why law and judgment are important in any society. During two cups of tea with Abraham we were able to share ideas about our individual sin, breaking of God’s law, and our inability to justify our sin before God, and then the legal necessity of Jesus’ death as payment for our sin. We knew we had hit pay dirt when he gave a classic question, “Are we then, being forgiven of sin, free to sin all the more?” As if we were living in Romans we stated “May it never be!”
We parted ways but not before gifting our friend Abraham with the knowledge of why Jesus’ death was necessary and that Jesus’ promises apply to him. Pray for Abraham and his family who now have Bibles, Jesus films, and other helpful Christian literature to accompany the witness we proclaimed to him concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. Most Muslims know law, especially religious law, very well. During Ramadan (month of fasting) locals were concerned with the issue of breaking their fast if they swallowed their spit during the day. It is very easy for us to show them, as well as to us, how that God’s or man’s law cannot be perfectly obeyed because of our willing sinful choices. Focusing on the law is necessary if people are to understand why Jesus had to die. The law of God is grace since without the law there is no knowledge of sin. The law is a close friend in Turkey since it helps us to acknowledge our sin and challenges us to be faithful and to show our love to our Father through our choices to obey.
EPHESUS LEARNING CENTER
Ephesus Learning Center is an established non-profit agency that attempts to get Bibles in the hands of those who have never heard the Gospel and to get Jesus Christ into the hearts of those who hear and understand why Jesus had to die. We now have small groups of believers scattered throughout Turkey after years of work. All donations in support of this pioneer outreach ministry are tax deductible. Make contributions out to Ephesus Learning Center, 628 N. Bateman Rd., Fairfield, TX 75840