As we were praying and working towards seeing a new church started, the Lord was busy working in other people, too. The little photocopy business on the ground floor of our bookstore building was put up for sale. Since we were looking for new means of income in order to make our business platform self-sustaining, this looked like a good opportunity for us.
The location would be another plus; having the bookstore on the third floor meant people had to look up before they would see our sign. Owning the business at street level would allow our sign to be easily seen by anyone passing by.
After we bought the photocopy business, Freedom, the young fellow who was already employed there said, “I’ll work for you for a month until you hire someone and I’ll stay to train that person. This sounded good to us, so I accepted his offer.
After nearly a month of looking, we hadn’t been able to find anyone suitable among the available believers to do the job, so Freedom made us another offer: “I like you. I think I’ll keep on working for you!”
So he essentially hired himself, and we were not sorry. He was creative, pleasant, hardworking, and honest. Those last two qualities were rare ones in the culture.
After three months of getting to know him, we began to talk with him about spiritual things. He engaged eagerly. Later he told me the reason for his interest. He’d been a thinker from childhood and had looked carefully into the faith of his fathers. After thinking long and hard about it, he’d rejected this religion in his early teens and became an atheist.
Then at age eighteen, while serving his military duty, he was on patrol, sitting on a mountainside around a campfire with his fellow soldiers and he said he suddenly realized that atheism was not an honest stance for anyone to take.
“No one can know for sure that there’s no God,” he said out loud. Looking up at the star-studded sky, he added, “Maybe He lives on the back side of the moon!”
That was pretty impressive to me, to see how God had been working in Freedom’s life. Here was a fellow with a 6th grade education who had more insight than many professors with doctorates who persist in holding onto the intellectually dishonest position of atheism.
Freedom then went back and reexamined his family’s form the local religion, but ended up rejecting it again. He was now actively looking for direction.
After moving to our city he had joined a Mafia group in the neighborhood of our shop and was working toward a leadership position. However, as we shared the gospel with him, he became aware of the vast differences between what the Word says, what the local religion says and what the Mafia had to offer.
One Monday after attending Salvation Church with us, Freedom surrendered himself to Christ. With him was a friend, Falcon, who had heard the gospel in another city; he also prayed to accept Christ. These two, along with three other new believers became the core of our new church plant.
One of the other early members was Robert, who had a sister and brother-in-law who had come to Christ in another city through the correspondence course. Robert’s sister had talked with him at length about spiritual things. He went to the small meeting his sister attended and was impressed with the message.
When he returned to Ankara, his sister gave him the address of one of our workers. Robert got in touch with him and after some weeks of Bible study, Robert made his commitment to Christ.
A third fellow, Chris, actually was led to the Lord by some-one in Salvation Church, but he wanted a smaller fellowship. He met us through the bookstore and joined.
The last new believer, Sam, came to us through a chance contact with another one of our workers, an aggressive evangelist. He dragged Sam to one of the early meetings and it was obvious that Sam was not happy to be there. However, as time went on he began to attend on his own, and became the fourth member.
These were later joined by two sisters who had gone to the Anglican Church looking for potential husbands, but instead had met one of our lady teammates. She invited them to a bookstore event where they heard the gospel and shortly thereafter made commitments of faith in Jesus. So “Light Fellowship” was launched.
Picture: Robert and his wife with us.