Mardin, in south-east Turkey, has lately become a haven from surrounding conflict. A SAT-7 TÜRK team member joined the first national gathering of young Turkish Christians in the city – hearing their journeys of faith and meeting non-Christians curious to learn what it is that Christians believe. This is the first of a two-part report.
Mardin is one of the most important historical locations in Turkey. Settled around the 11th century BC, it has hosted many civilisations over its long history. Nowadays, it is home to around 87,000 people with a wonderful mixed population of Christians, Muslims, Yezidis, Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Armenians and others.
Since July 2015, the city has been bordered by areas increasingly affected by clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish separatist militias, and it is right next to the Syrian border. Despite the ethnic mix and in contrast to the surrounding chaos, Mardin seems one of the most peaceful cities in Turkey. When I asked locals about the reason for this peaceful environment, they replied, “Being faithful to God brings toleration and love for each other. And this brings peace and holiness.“
The Protestant church where the Youth Awakening event was held, only opened this year. It is the first Protestant church in the whole city. It was a restored Orthodox church which last served the area 50 years ago and has been used as a warehouse since then. Many young Christian people from different parts of the country, especially from the eastern region, were there to support this church and to be part of this Christian Youth Awakening Gathering. It was a special moment to see a growing church in this city with these lovely young people.
It was also interesting to meet many Muslim visitors who come to this church out of curiosity. I had very emotional and fruitful conversations with some of them and it reminded me of a surprising fact. Although the locals are surrounded by churches in this town, most know nothing of what happens inside them, nothing about Christians, and nothing about the cross that hangs over the entrance.
It reminded me again that I need to be more transparent about my godly gift of Christ. I owe something to these people! I owe it to them to share my gift, my joy, my hope in Christ! As SAT-7 TÜRK, we owe it to them to share the precious gems we have, such as peace, hope and joy! We owe it to them to share the real truth! This is why on screen we are transparent and honest with them. It’s what people want to see and hear. SAT-7 TÜRK is not in this country at this time by chance!
“Rocky, dangerous, difficult”
A day later, we climbed some very dangerous cliffs to reach an abandoned cave church on top of a mountain. As we made the climb, it was lovely to see how these guys were encouraging and caring for each other. When we reached the top, we had an amazing time of devotions and prayer, fanned by a beautiful breeze and accompanied by a stunning view of Mesopotamia.
When I interviewed some of the young guys, they compared this journey to their faith journey: it was rocky, dangerous, difficult, it needed friends to help and hands to hold but, at the end, the destination was priceless!
We will post the second part of this report in August.
Baptisms in Mardin
SAT-7 filmed the baptism of two young Syrian believers in Mardin. Read story here.