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From Smyrna to Ephesus

Making History

Here we are again, in disbelief that it has been a year since our first Arvalya retreat. This year’s event was something for the history books. We were just so honored to be able to host such an incredible group of believers! The spirit of love and unity that filled the whole weekend was so beautiful.

Gathering

The vision for this retreat is to provide a time of rest, fellowship and encouragement for our Greater Grace churches in Turkey. As of now, we have churches in three cities across this huge country in Istanbul, Izmir and Bilecik. The opportunity to gather together and in such a beautiful Christian-run campground is amazing. There were about 50 of us and it felt like a family gathering, with each person looking to serve and bless the other.

We had groups from Helsinki and Budapest come. They came with a servant mentality and we are so thankful for each one who came to support us as we hosted and served together.

Sweet and Broken

The weekend started with a beautiful night of worship and testimonies. It was a sweet and broken time as we heard from Ekin, our amazing translator, Bilal, an Afghan refugee living in Bilecik, and Yasemin  who is a Turkish believer of over 20 years and a faithful member of our small church.

God Makes Himself Known

There is just nothing that compares to hearing our brothers and sisters in Christ share how God made Himself known to them. We hope to at least be able to type out the testimony of Bilal and his family, because the global Body of Christ would be better for knowing these incredible people’s story of miracles, faith and survival.

God is truly working in the Middle East in ways we have not seen in the West. He is revealing Himself through dreams and visions, leading people directly to Christ in truly miraculous ways.

Reckless Love

The following day included a separate men’s/women’s meeting. The men heard from Pastor Brian on what it means to love people rather than try to “fix” people. The women heard from Yasemin about how we must pour our broken hearts out before our Lord just like the woman with the alabaster box — it is a sweet fragrance to Him. They also heard from Liz about what it means to be a woman, God’s creation that bears His image as a helper in the church, home and family. Everyone
was built up and challenged to walk in love, the reckless love of God!

retreat2

Thank and Praise

There is so much more we could say, but the most important thing is to THANK each one of you who gave to make this event possible and to PRAISE GOD for His faithful love and grace towards us and the Muslim world.

Milestones

Lastly, we ask that you would consider becoming a monthly donor to Greater Grace Izmir. We do not ask this lightly, but with hearts full of hope and expectant joy for what God is doing here. Our fledgling church is at the point where we need to start looking for a space to rent for our church service, Bible studies, and other weekly gatherings. In addition, we will be beginning the legal process to get our Izmir branch registered as an official church, which includes hefty fees as well. These are huge milestones in the birth of a new church in Turkey and we cannot do it alone!

Please pray, give and share this with your churches. We look forward to seeing many of you at the International Convention in Baltimore in June. – Team Izmir

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