God’s work in Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey is certainly one of my favorite cities in the world.  In matters of history, commerce and faith, no other city in the world can compare.

Having just returned from my third visit in four years, the city once again exceeded all my expectations.  Our 2.5 days in Istanbul brought us back together with Turgay Urchal, Pastor of a Christian Messianic Center/Church in Moda, a neighborhood located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus – the great waterway connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and separating the continents of Europe and Asia.

We traveled to Moda by ferry from the European side across the Bosphorus to Kadicoy and then walked for 20 minutes until we reached a quiet, tree-lined street and the picturesque All Saints Moda Chapel.   Following the requisite Turkish greetings and welcome, we gathered in Pastor Turgay’s comfortable office to enjoy Turkish tea and listen to stories about the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in the lives of Christians living, working, serving and worshiping in a city of 14 million Muslims. Hearing the stories of new believers coming to faith in Christ was riveting and uplifting.

Given all the events in our world related to the Islamic faith, we had several questions for Turgay on the subject.  He was patient and spent a great deal of time trying to educate our one-dimensional American minds on Islam and especially on the vastly differing groups of Muslims that live throughout Turkey, Syria and the Middle East.  Let me just say that the issues affecting the world by the rise of radical Islamism are not as simple as America’s sound-bite media would have us believe.  Our discussions on the subject were incredibly informative and left all of us with a much deeper awareness (though not necessarily a full understanding) of this immensely complicated issue that has currently engulfed the world’s attention.

During our lunch visit to All Saints Moda we met a young man named Paul*, who has just begun serving as an apprentice to Turgay.  Paul was born in Tarsus – the Apostle Paul’s hometown – and was raised Muslim.  He was first introduced to Jesus, as are so many Muslims, through reading the Koran.  Paul’s parents were friends with a Christian family from America, through whom Paul came to faith in Christ.  Paul and his family recently moved to Istanbul to open a school teaching English to Turks and to work in ministry with Turgay.  Paul is an exceptional young man who has a deep affection for Jesus.  I am always amazed when I experience God’s answer to prayers firsthand.  I have personally been in prayer for two years that the Lord would bring an apprentice to Turgay, and He did!

Istanbul, along with the whole of Turkey, is vibrant and amazing.  With each passing day, Turkey is gaining influence on the world scene.  I believe that God has great things planned for His Turkish sons and daughters.  I ask you to pray for the Lord’s continued blessings for Turgay and his family, for Paul and his family, and for Turkish believers throughout the country.


Dan Collins | Downtown Campus


*name changed