It’s May 1st and the temperature here in Antalya is already hotter than in the height of an English summer.
There were a couple of days in April when we were genuinely concerned about how we will survive the heat in July and August.
In the ministry also we have really started to get into the swing of things with Persian.
And in the congregation and with our studies it seems that the Devil has been doing his best to make life difficult for everyone.
As of today though, everyone is doing amazingly well in the face of adversity and the work is continuing on apace.
Patrick, my Nigerian study, has now joined the school and he is really keen to start with the preaching work. We are still only on chapter 8 of the Teach Us book so his progress is fast.
His life is not easy and every month he is under a lot of pressure as we all are, but for him with very limited resources, it is extra difficult.
He will have his residency interview in a couple of days and we are praying that things will go well so that he may stay here. If he is not able to though I am convinced that nothing will stop his spiritual progress at this point. His desire to serve Jehovah and his understanding of the cost of discipleship is very clear and strong.
We have also been enjoying some nice experiences in the ministry with the Persians, at first when we started holding the meetings in Persian I thought to myself, is it really worth it since there is only a handful of us attending that actually understand the language?
But already we are starting to see the benefit.
For example, one Bible study from Afghanistan, not pictured above, was previously attending the meetings with us in English but he has little or no English comprehension.
After attending the special talk in Persian he confided in us that the meeting had probably saved his life.
This is what he explained…
Before coming to Turkey he had been a drug dealer in Afghanistan. The money he got from his “work” paid for a nice sports car which his girlfriend was driving one day with his child as the passenger. They were both killed in an accident.
Since this happened he has been so numb from grief and guilt that he has not really felt that he was alive.
Though he has tried to repent and change his life by coming to Turkey and being law-abiding he has found life very hard here, to the point where he has been sleeping on the streets.
The day before the Persian meeting he contacted a “friend” back in Afghanistan and told him that he was thinking of coming back. The contact told him that he had a job for him working with the Taliban and involving drugs and guns.
Even though he did not like the idea he just thought to himself that at least this way he would be able to eat.
Then he came to the meeting and heard the special talk in Farsi. It touched his heart to the point that he says that since then for the first time in a long time he has felt like a real human being again and he changed his decision to return to Afghanistan.
His Bible study continues and we will see how far on the path of life it takes him.
One day last month in the market I met an Iranian man. His name is ######. Our encounter was fairly typical, we say a greeting in Farsi, they are so amazed that they stop and have a conversation.
They express their delight at our efforts to learn the language and give us their phone number.
As you can see from the photo he is quite a character and has lived for a long time in the Persian community in Chicago. In Chicago, he owns a couple of restaurants and his brother is a major businessman owning many large parking complexes in Chicago.
Right now he is living in Turkey.
We have kept in touch and the other day we were able to meet and speak about the truth.
He was very interested but his wife ##### was even more interested.
She was fascinated to learn that God’s name is Jehovah and that there is no hellfire.
Since then Linda has been trying to get together with her to cement the study but it has been a challenge because they have been moving apartment and they are half in the old one and half in the new, a busy time for them.
However, just a couple of days ago she called Linda. This was amazing because ##### said that even though she had been cleaning the new place all day and was tired she did not want another day to go by without meeting up with Linda.
So they met and discussed a few more points including the idea of the resurrection and of living forever on earth.
Living on earth forever with no death was a fascinating and thrilling new concept for Maria and sure enough, a study was started.
This is the beauty of the field here, most of the Persians we talk to have never heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses or anything about the truth.
Just going back to the earlier picture of ########, it was funny because at one point during that Bible study I whispered to Dominic, who was with us on that call, “these guys are really spiritually hungry.” At which point they leaped up and started to put the stove on and scramble around in the cupboards for food. I suddenly realized that they had thought I had said that I was hungry. So I had to stop them and explain what I meant. There was a lot of laughter as you can imagine.
This experience illustrates just how friendly and hospitable the people are.
Linda and I also both gave our first talks in Persian recently and everyone was very positive and encouraging about our efforts. It was actually the first full Persian meeting ever held in Turkey!
Other than these nice experiences, of which there are lots more, life has been quite a challenge.
Once again Linda and I have both come down with cold viruses and Linda’s back has been bothering her quite a lot again. I think that constant pain is just the new normal for her now.
In addition to that, I received notice that the blogging job that I had been doing has now come to an end due to economic challenges for the company.
Having said that we are now on the upswing again. Many of the brothers and sisters need greating here do online work teaching English to Chinese kids and they suggested I try the same.
I have now got an interview and demo date and I have total confidence in Jehovah that all will be more than well.
These are my three hard-working assistants…
In order not to end things on that completely ridiculous note, here are a couple of spiritual thoughts to end with.
If you have not already watched it, check out that video on JW broadcasting, a talk by
Nicholas Ahladis: “The Word of God Is Not Bound”
It was so encouraging, the content was amazing and shows just how Jehovah can mobilize his organization to accomplish incredible things in the power of his holy spirit.
Also, I was meditating on the account of the fig tree in the weekly Bible reading recently…where Jesus cursed the tree in Mark chapter 11.
The fig tree to Jesus was just like the Jewish nation, deceptive in appearance, no genuine fruitage.
Jesus righteous anger towards that faithless nation was directed at that tree.
But it was the next day that it withered, so whose power actually withered that tree? Whose anger was also felt against the faithless Jews?
Meditating on the account deepened my understanding of the thought that whatever we ask according to Jehovah’s will he will do for us.
Jesus in the next few verses referring to what Jehovah did to the tree, said, “all the things you pray and ask for have faith that you will have them.”
I thought to myself if I walk up to a mountain and say, be thrown into the sea, it does not matter how much faith I have, that is not going to happen.
But if my righteous and strong emotions in connection with what I pray for are a reflection of Jehovah’s own strong feelings, then I can ask for anything and Jehovah will answer that prayer.
Even if it were moving mountains or withering trees.
With that in mind, we pray that Jehovah will help us to stay here and continue this amazing ministry amongst these humble people that do not know their right hand from their left spiritually. And we pray that others will also come and join us, especially those who may speak Persian 😉
We also pray that Jehovah answers your prayers and that he will bless you all very much!
Lots of love,
Josh and Linda