BSB students make ‘joyful noise’ in Istanbul
“Creator God, You gave me breath so I could praise Your great and matchless name, all my days, all my days. So let my whole life be a blazing offering, a life that shouts and sings the greatness of our King. Glory to God forever. So take my life and let it be, all for You and for Your glory.”
The revelation of the glory of God; God with us, the divine came as man to our world—this is what we celebrate in the Christmas season. He left His place of honor and humbled Himself so that we could experience the presence of God and, through faith in His salvation, be justified into fellowship with the Father. The good news of our sanctification! What can we do but share this in joy with others? What can we do but praise the name of the Lord in overwhelmed thankfulness?
Dec. 21-25, 2016, a group of students from Bibelseminar Bonn, Southwestern Seminary’s partner school in Bonn, Germany, was able to do exactly that on the most frequently visited street in Istanbul. Istiklal Avenue, in the center of the largest city of Turkey, is visited by nearly 3 million people daily. Lined with historic buildings, boutiques, galleries, museums, restaurants and consulates, this street is beautiful and bustling with activity. In the midst of this consumerism and hectic lifestyle, our group of 20 had the chance to make a joyful noise unto the Lord (Psalm 98:4-6).
Through partnership with a church in Germany, we came into contact with a Moldavian missionary and a Turkish pastor, both working in Istanbul to share the Gospel of Christ. The purpose of our trip was to deliver Turkish New Testaments so that these men and other Christians there could pass them out within the city. Over the days of the Christmas holiday, these men held a license to pass out the Bibles in Istiklal Avenue. While they offered Bibles to the pedestrians, we sang songs of praise to God.
Between 30-minute sessions of singing, we had the opportunity to speak with those of the audience who remained standing. With wisdom and the leading of the Holy Spirit, we were able to have many conversations and share about what Jesus has done in our lives and can do in their lives as well. In the days we were there, about 2,000 Bibles were distributed. We also learned that through the mission of these men, in the past decade, more than 90,000 New Testaments have been given out in the city.
What a great experience to be able to learn from these men and also to support them in their ministry. We were hopefully able to encourage them, and they were most definitely an encouragement to us.
Although Turkey is predominantly Muslim, it was wonderful to be able to witness and at the same time be a part of what God is doing in the hearts of people there. As we sang, there was an openness among the people. After singing songs such as Fee’s “Glory to God Forever,” countless individuals asked, “Why are you doing this? What is different about you guys?” They saw that we have been changed, and they wanted to know more. Thus, we were given a perfect opportunity to share about the way that Jesus is the difference in our lives, that He is the one working in us, and that from Him we have joy.
I pray that all that we did works to the glory of God, and that through it, people will also be moved to glorify the one and only God. I can only wait to see one day in heaven the good works that God began in the hearts of the people we encountered those days.
I want to thank those who financially helped to make this trip possible. Those of us who went—we have the heart for the work but not all the resources to make it come to fruition. You gave as an offering to God and for the sake of the Gospel. You gave not to me but to the Lord. Who am I to thank you? Yet, at the same time, I want to thank you on behalf of myself and the rest of those who went, and for those who received the Bibles and the message of the Gospel through the trip.
Our group had the honor of being a part of what God is doing in Istanbul. Without donations, we would not have been able to travel and deliver the Bibles, or even buy the Bibles in the first place. Attila, the Turkish pastor with whom we worked, became a Christian merely through receiving such a Bible and beginning to study it. The Bible is the Word of God, and “it will not return to [God] empty, without accomplishing what [He] desire[s], and without succeeding in the matter for which [He] sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
For those who prayed, bless you. We were kept safe, and many small details that could have gone badly did not. The Spirit was working and equipped us for all that we faced. Your prayers are a priceless gift and a powerful force! We went knowing that we were held in support by countless believers all over the world and backed by the support of BSB, its leadership, and the students.
Allison Cherry is a college student at Bibelseminar Bonn in Germany.
“Glory to God Forever” by Steve Fee.