Jo Wells speaks to Dave and Jude May from Emmanuel Church Oxford about leading a Mobilise Worldwide team in Turkey:
Breakfast bagels and coffee bouncing, we all ran towards our departure gate while the words “last call for departure gate 3 flight xxx to Turkey” rang in our ears.
How did we manage to fall so far behind when we left the hotel 30mins earlier then we had previously planned?! The dream of visiting a church in Turkey almost didn’t take off at all.
Touch down in Turkey, and we soon realised to our horror that we had somehow managed to drag the British summer along with us, and the usual 30-35+ degrees had mellowed to a very average 22. The unusual dip in temperature was much appreciated however when we started our manual work. Cleaning and gardening at the church building and retreat centre were first on the agenda. The boys dug up some big rocks, cut down trees, built a big bonfire, and felt, well very manly. That evening we sang around the huge bonfire in Turkish (very upbeat songs) and then some classic English ballads (“My Jesus… My saviour…” – no joke) were enjoyed by all. As the Turkish believers shared how they had met Jesus, and what they had to sacrifice to follow him, the reality of their stories hit home hard. This wasn’t a distant article in a magazine or a 30 second burst on a promotional DVD, this was real. Their love for Jesus was so tangible, and it broke our hearts, we will never forget that evening round the bonfire.
We can’t go any further without introducing Michael. He leads the church in Yalovah, and has so many stories about God’s faithfulness and goodness. Our times with Michael affectionately became known as ‘Story time with Uncle Michael’ and as we listened to Michael tell stories of God’s miraculous provision we could see faith rising in our students. What an amazing opportunity to hear first-hand how God is building his church – and how he can use you in his extraordinary plans.
We met so many people on our adventure to Yalovah, and we can truly say it felt like home the minute we arrived because we were among family. Even the language barrier wasn’t a problem thanks mainly to Google translate, however a bit of miming seemed to go down a treat as well (how DO you mime ‘do I flush the toilet paper down the toilet or not?’).
Over the trip we had the joy of seeing our students step out in ways they never had before; praying for people on the street, moving in new spiritual gifts, meeting God in powerful ways. They really came out of their shells, and we started to see future leaders, and church planters. We know they all took something really special away with them from the trip. God spoke to all of us while we were in Turkey and we all saw more clearly the importance of establishing God’s church and seeing his Kingdom advance around the world. Our students have learnt so much, and it’s great to see them now applying that new found knowledge and passion into our church context back home.
Leading a team abroad has been challenging at times, but also hugely rewarding. We really believe the trip to Turkey has enabled us to be more effective in equipping our students to follow God’s call for their lives. We can’t think of a more exciting adventure to be on.