Fw: Travel Prayer Update
- From my cousin-in-law in Istanbul.
American Thanksgiving Day
November 27, 2003
Dear praying family,
It's mid-morning this Thursday in Istanbul, and there's hardly a sound or
movement on the streets outside my office, as most folks are still in bed
during the third day of the national holiday celebrating the end of
Ramazan, the annual month of fasting. This is the first time in my 22
years in Turkey that my country's traditional Thanksgiving Day has
coincided with this Muslim festival, but it's caused me to pause for
heart-felt reflection on my blessings.
Never in my life have I been more grateful over the wonder that I
personally know and am known by my Creator, and that every day I
His grace [sweetly symbolized by the middle name my parents gave me!!].
That's what life is all about--undeserved favor. . .and genuine
forgiveness. And my heart reaches out to those many around me here who
trying so hard to please God "on the outside," doing good deeds and
following strict disciplines and performing rituals without any assurance
that at the end of life, they will be allowed into heaven. They have no
clue that here on earth, God wants to truly change and transform their
lives "on the inside," to enjoy His grace and spread it around to others.
Please join me in praying for the people of Istanbul, who have indeed
traumatized by the shocking bomb attacks here on October 16 and 20 that
took at least 58 lives (two more of the Turkish injured have died in the
past two days) and wounded 700. Most Turks are truly afraid, feeling
upset and vulnerable. The expatriate church where I worship is located
right between two of the major targets, just a few city blocks away.
Sunday I used to drive past the now devastated synagogue, and the bombed
British Consulate is just off an adjacent street. Please pray that I
be able to speak wise words of comfort and healing, as I make the rounds
holiday visits to greet my friends and neighbors during these next couple
I surely regret it has taken me this long to get back to you regarding my
Egypt trip, but must say it was very special to me to get to "share" this
trip with Sally. We both felt our week there was. . .well,
I guess is the word. The appointments and interviews were strategic in
multiple ways, and I sensed throughout the on-the-spot power of Sally's
intercessory prayers. We were constantly stretched as we met with
different ones, and in a unique way they were comforted and encouraged
as they told their sad stories. Incidents like the hood of our taxi
blowing up across the windshield, totally blocking sight as we (ahem!)
over an overpass one afternoon, reminded us of God's very specific
protection over us. I also treasured the chance to talk and pray through
things together at the close of each day.
Since our return from Egypt a week ago, I've been able to write five
News articles about urgent cases in Turkey, Eritrea and Saudi
Arabia.....but my Egyptian sources and I are still trying to get thorough
documentation on the details of the cruel crackdown begun there more than
five weeks ago. We had several moving hours with the husband of the key
convert couple first arrested, together with his two teenage daughters.
The next day, the girls for the first time were allowed to visit their
mother in the women's prison where she has been jailed. A released
also confirmed to us that one of the converts who had been arrested and
tortured in a Cairo police station was taken to hospital and died there.
We went from one interview to the next, hearing painful stories from men
and women who had been mistreated simply because they had put their faith
in Jesus Christ. One night when I couldn't sleep, I thought a lot about
the word "torture," which appears so often in my news articles from this
part of the world. Webster defines the raw truth of its meaning:
of body or mind." Yes, the dear people we met know first-hand about
. Tears rolled down a 14-year-old's face as she recalled the agony in
mother's eyes, trembling with the effort to not cry in front of her
daughters as the police arrested and took her away from their home.
. A young Christian man was about to fly out of the Cairo airport to
safety in the West when security police came and arrested him off the
plane, demanding the whereabouts of his fiance. As a former Muslim who
converted to Islam, she has been in hiding since last February. He had
already lost more than 40 pounds during four months of physical torture
jail. But now under constant surveillance and unable to meet her, he's
terrified in his spirit for her safety.
. A priest whose finger was nearly shot off and then beaten and
naked to shame him endured several hours of torment, believing the whole
time he would surely be killed by his tormentors. "But Jesus Christ
let me die, and now I don't fear death anymore," he told us. "I want to
tell everyone about Jesus, wherever I am."
I personally will never forget the comments of the husband whose wife was
still in jail, explaining that because he had come to know the truth, he
could never leave his new faith. "I put my hand in the hand of Jesus,"
said. "I can't take it out and return back."
Last week, his wife was brought before the prosecutor and ordered back to
prison until December 5. Meanwhile, she has already led one other woman
the jail to faith in Christ. . .
Because Jesus makes an eternal difference,