Like many of you, our family has had to make decisions based on the well-being and long term goals of our life in the reality of this pandemic. It began while we were in Budapest and the Greater Grace European Conference was canceled due to the rapid spreading of COVID-19. We were disappointed and especially our Turkish believer who was planning to attend, but it was clearly the right decision.
A Difficult Call
The US started to ban flights from European countries and things were starting to change really quickly. It was clear this virus wasn’t going away and that it would have serious economic effects as well as be a global health crisis. Because our livelihood — the God-given provision for our lives in Izmir — was on the line, we made a very difficult call to return to Baltimore as a family before the borders closed completely.
We knew that if Roger’s business is going to survive this crisis, he would need to be “hands on” to do that. It’s no exaggeration to say this was one of the hardest decisions of our lives because of how much we love our small Body of believers in Izmir and the work we have to do there. But God has already been faithful to assure us that He is caring for each one of us so personally during this time.
In addition, our dear friend and team member Charles decided to return to Baltimore shortly after us but for a different reason. He has been suffering through debilitating back pain for over a year, serving with humility with ready hands through it all. But it was time for him to take care of his physical body. Please pray for him! We want to see him back to his full strength by the fall.
Lastly, our other amazing team member Brittany continues to serve and lead in Izmir. In the flurry of all the traveling and decision making, she had a sense of peace and honor in her role as a team member and leader in our young church. In our absence she remains in Izmir as a huge blessing and source of encouragement to so many. Please pray for her!
New Fields of Faith
This pandemic, and all our disappointments of botched plans, will pass by God’s grace. Our lives, we pray, will never go back to “normal” but will continue after this with a new sense of faith and vision. Our home in Izmir is waiting for us, calling us back and we can’t wait to be there again. In the meantime, we can already see how this time is being used to push us into new fields of faith.
Although we are living in times of great uncertainty, we feel a sense of incredible movement in these times. What a huge shake up and wake up this pandemic is to humanity! Our prayer is that the Gospel would be spread, and the hope we find only in Christ, be put on display for a lost and dying world.
It has been on our hearts for months to build our YouTube channel, but we could never quite find the time to do it in the midst of all our regular life’s responsibilities. But then, a few weeks ago the virus hit Europe and Turkey, we flew back to America, and the Turkish government shuttered all organizations, including churches, and we were faced with the disappointment of that…but we chose to see it as a strong prompt from the Lord to get going with our YouTube content!
Witnessing God’s Work
Our YouTube channel Buyuk Lutuf will include not only high quality worship music but also Bible teaching. So, with the help of our amazing team of faithful people, we set out to do “online church services” and we did it! With the help of technology and our faithful team in Izmir, we recorded Turkish worship and a message from Roger with simultaneous translation by Nihat. With such a small church and such limited resources, it was incredible to see everyone come together and witness God’s work!
Just the Beginning
The first video has had over 140 views, which is far more than our usual Sunday attendance, and it has sparked amazing conversations with many unbelievers. We are excited and thankful for what fruit may come of this. As of the beginning of April our YouTube channel has two of our church services, but that is just the beginning!
- For Brittany, Nihat, Hulya and all our believers in Izmir — health, finances, and joy.
- For our kids Paige, Hazel and Dodge: health and strength as they adjust once again to our new life of home school in the midst of a pandemic and “re-entry” culture shock.
- For wisdom and peace as we wait to decide when to return to Izmir.
- For more team members — we still feel an urgent need for more mature, equipped team members to join us. Please, Lord!
- For the salvation of some dear friends: Berk, Almira, Mehmet, Rana, Cemre and many more!
- For a nice quality piano and sound equipment for the church & YouTube channel.
– Liz Robbins