Return To Haiti (Calvary Community Church of Port Towsend)
Serving In Turkey
November 3, 2023
Staff: Almando Jean Louis
by Almando Jean Louis | November 4, 2023 7:04 AM
We made it safe to our final destination after many hours of travel. We are in Hatay, Antioch, one of the regions that were hit the worst by the earthquake. The devastation we saw on the way to the church and our lodging site is mind-blowing, but we are glad to see the ongoing efforts to rebuild, restore and revive.
We have enjoyed meeting our brothers and sisters here and are looking forward to working alongside them. We are hopeful that we will leave them more encouraged as they continue to spread the light of the Gospel in Hatay.
We are praying that the Lord uses us as He wishes to further the work He has started here in Turkey.
Please pray for us!
by Almando Jean Louis | November 4, 2023 1:34 PM
The church we are helping has grown from a small to a massive structure in the middle of a heavily populated community. Volunteers have been coming from all over the world to help rebuild the church as they have become a focal point for people who lost everything in the earthquake.
We met two German brothers who have been helping with plumbing for many weeks. When we asked our hosts how the community views and interprets seeing different groups coming in and out of the building, they replied and I quote " Turkish People don't read anything about Christianity, the only way to show them Christianity is through actions.
The fact that they have been seeing Christian brother and sisters coming and going, helping out with the construction and supporting each other is a great testimony for the Gospel and what Christianity is about.
by Almando Jean Louis | November 4, 2023 3:31 PM
This afternoon turned out to be busier than we anticipated. We visited the church to take a simple assessment of what we needed for materials. When we went back to one of the church camps to gather some supplies, we found some other volunteers who were helping a couple of elderly move their furniture. The furniture they moved from their broken homes to one of the church camps, but because of rain, they had to move them again to a rental home. Unfortunately, rent became too high for them, so the church opened their second camp to them again to store their furniture until further notice.
We ended up loading and unloading 8 full cargo trucks of furniture and another full truck of water. Elmas (Pastor Hamdullah's wife) worked tirelessly with us from 1 until after 7 pm. We were amazed by the dedication of the other volunteers and they told us that we arrived at the same time because it was a lot of work.
We are looking forward to continuing to help in any way we possibly can to bless our brothers and sisters.
God is good all the time!
by Almando Jean Louis | November 4, 2023 10:33 PM
Many hands make the load light.
by Almando Jean Louis | November 4, 2023 10:37 PM
Ten months after the monster earthquake hit this region, hundreds of buildings are still looking like this. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.
It will take many years for clean up to be complete and many many more to rebuild this place.
God is working through His people here to bring light and hope to the city.
by Almando Jean Louis | November 5, 2023 7:08 AM
The Church here is like a true family. Sunday worship is something that the body of believers longs for every week because it's a true family reunion for them.
Churches are 20-30 in attendance. Everyone knows each other. You know the person who sits next to you. Everyone knows each other's prayer requests and praise reports.
The service is solely focusing on worshiping, listening to God and fellowshipping with each other. It is open for everyone to share a prayer, a vision or a testimony with each other. After the service, people eat together and that happens every Sunday.
It is rare to find a house where everyone is a believer. So when they have a chance to be together, they make the most of it. And the gathering can go for over 6 hours. That is the body's time to fellowship and express joyfully their common faith in the Savior.
They don't have the luxury to celebrate Christmas and Easter, matter of fact, those are not holidays they have in this culture at all. So the only way they can celebrate the birth of our Lord and remember his sacrifice is to be together.
May the Lord continue to bless and grow His Church in Turkiye.
by Almando Jean Louis | November 5, 2023 9:45 AM
After our second service this afternoon, we sat with Pastor Paul to learn about his ministry and his experience during the earthquake. He pastors a small thriving congregation and has been helping many families who were affected by the earthquake.
Through the help of volunteers from all over the world, he has been able to help 500 families find container homes. But he has 3600 families on his waiting list. As the winter draws near, he is praying that the Lord will provide for him to assist as many as he possibly can with container homes. Each of those containers costs $3,750 US dollars and they have two rooms and an outdoor bathroom.
We trust that the Lord will provide for him.
by Almando Jean Louis | November 6, 2023 3:21 AM
A bunch of 110 pound cement bags were delivered this morning and a load of sand.
We've got work to do!
by Almando Jean Louis | November 6, 2023 3:23 AM
This building is the result of hundreds of volunteers coming from around the world to help the church.
God is at work here!
by Almando Jean Louis | November 6, 2023 3:24 AM
We are in the early phase of the plumbing work.
We are learning as we go!
by Almando Jean Louis | November 6, 2023 3:25 AM
There are many different phases in finishing a concrete wall. We are now filling the block cracks and the condo routes to make way for the first coat of plastering.
Lots to be done!
by Almando Jean Louis | November 7, 2023 4:27 AM
Another load of cement and sand arrived this morning. We have more supplies than we need for the day, which is great.
by Almando Jean Louis | November 7, 2023 4:30 AM
30 shovels of sand for one 110 lb bag of cement. Mixing concrete is hard work but knowing the purpose for which we are doing it for keeps us encouraged and strengthened.
May the Lord use this building for His His glory!
by Almando Jean Louis | November 7, 2023 6:17 AM
What does volunteers' help mean to you?
Pastor's wife: We need prayers because we too are earthquake victims while caring for earthquake victims. After the earthquake I thought I was in a nightmare, I even pinched myself to try to wake up from it.
But I was in awe of how God worked in the midst of the chaos. We have been in the ministry for 23 years but what we've seen God do in the last 6 months is much more than what we've seen Him do in 23 years.
We have met thousands of people from around the world who came physically, supporting us prayerfully and financially. All of that is possible because of God's faithfulness.
The earthquake was by far the scariest time of my life but also the most amazing time witnessing the amazing love of God during this difficult time.
by Almando Jean Louis | November 7, 2023 6:25 AM
What has been the most challenging thing you've experienced since the earthquake?
Almas: (broken in tears) We had about one hundred kids that used to come to our kids ministry before the earthquake. Almost all of them died in the earthquake.
Though the Lord has multiplied the numbers considerably, as we now have over three hundred, it does not take away the pain of losing those children and that's something I will live with until God calls me home.
I believe though God blessed Job with many more children, he still missed his previous ones and that's my story too.
May the Lord be your strength, sister Almas!
by Almando Jean Louis | November 8, 2023 5:24 AM
We had a chance to have a conversation with a missionary here who was born in the US but grew up here. He devoted his life to serve the Lord here and has been helping the Christian community here in many ways. Later on, during our debrief time Hatice told us more about the task of making disciples. We also learned that the children's ministry is on pause because the two missionaries that run it are back in Hungry.
Here is a summary of our conversation.
What is it like to minister to people here vs in the US?
People here have no Christian foundation at all. You have to work with them from ground zero. Hatice said it's not even zero, it's way below zero because you have to debunk all the lies they have been told about God, even before you start at ground zero. Whereas in the US, most people have some Christian values, especially if they come from Christian families. You have to teach people the very basics of Christian living here and work with them through the baggage that comes with it. It's a lot of work and there aren't many people to do it.
Are people receptive to those values?
Yes. It takes time but if they commit their lives to Christ, they desire to grow in His knowledge. The biggest roadblock for those people is the understanding of some concepts such as the Trinity and intimacy with the Father, which does exist in Islam. There are many things that are hard for us to understand, even as long-time believers that we simply have to believe by faith.
What is it like for you personally to be a believer in this culture?
It is hard to be one of a kind among very many in most circumstances, but there is nothing better. I love talking with people and they enjoy having conversations about my belief and what it means to be a follower of Christ.
What is the best way to minister to people here?
The best way to minister to people here is to become friends with them. Having a genuine relationship with them, doing life with them is the best way you can minister to their soul. It does not work to just walk up to them and tell them to accept Christ.
Thanks for obeying the call, friends!
by Almando Jean Louis | November 10, 2023 4:20 AM
Becoming a Christ follower here in Turkey is somehow denying your Turkish citizenship. Islam is mentioned in their national IDs and if they choose to change that to Christian, they automatically become foreigners in their own land. They cannot be buried in Turkish cemeteries. In fact, the only way they will be buried is if a minority group allows them to be buried in their places. Churches cannot be called a place of worship. Churches are known by the government as a meeting place for those foreigners or a nonprofit organization.
The church we are helping to build is a massive building but church membership is around 30. So we wondered why? We found out that the church needs to be a one stop shop. This building will be the only place where Christians can find a Christian library. It will be the only place that will provide any kind of Christian education. It will be a place for volunteers or missionaries to reside. It will be a refugee location for those who get disowned by their families for the sake of Christ.
If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me
by Praying Pelican Missions | November 12, 2023 11:57 PM
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November 8, 2023 6:45 AM
Thank you so much!!
November 7, 2023 10:47 AM
Thanks for the update. It is through hardships & persecution, churches grow & souls are added. The same can be said for us personally. People see when Christians respond righteously & are drawn to Christ because of it. Your work there is part of that process. We are praying.
November 7, 2023 7:41 AM
So encouraging! My God is an awesome God! May the church be a light for all those lost in darkness. A beacon calling them. A transformation for the country. Bless the staff and everyone who come to serve. Thank you all.