…journey of a wanderer, pt. 3…

Many of you have not heard about our latest travels/ventures, specifically from our latest trip to Turkey.  Many of you supported us, and I haven’t gotten back with you about the trip.  So, that’s what this is about…Turkey.

The biggest problem I have, is that I don’t yet know how to explain the Turkey trip.  It was nothing like we expected.  So, maybe I’ll start from the beginning.  On October 31st, I was standing in line at the United ticket counter, when a good friend of mine text me a link that went something like, “have you seen this?”  So, I clicked on the following link: LINK.   If you didn’t read it, about 15 hours before we arrived in Istanbul a suicide-bomber set himself off in Taksim Square killing only himself and injuring over 30 others.  Now normally, this would simply be a tragedy I hear about from my living room chair, but this time, Taksim Square was not a place I was only hearing about, but it is where our hotel was located.  If you’ve never been in that situation, it makes for the start of a tense trip.

Then after that start, the trip took a life of its own.  Normally in the past, when I have gone somewhere with an intended reason, that reason (whatever it was orphan, AIDS, etc..) was the foundation and central focus of the trip.  We set out for Turkey for the purpose of human trafficking research, but human-trafficking ended up being only part of the trip as opposed to the foundation or central focus.  First, let me answer this question, “Why did we choose Turkey to research human trafficking?”  Pick up any well written book on global human-trafficking and what you won’t find is a chapter dedicated to Turkey. What you will find is the country Turkey peppered through every other chapter.  Do a little research about NGO’s fighting human trafficking in the area, and you will find strong NGO’s all around Turkey, but not in Turkey.  Yet history, geography, political posture, and economy makes for a perfect environment supportive of trafficking in Turkey, so the question I couldn’t get away from, was – why is nothing going on in Turkey, why are there no NGO’s in Turkey…Why have I talked to people who were going to move to Turkey to fight it, but ended up bailing out or switching countries?  What was wrong with Turkey.

While in Turkey I experienced the height of every possible negative emotion I could have: fear, loneliness, oppression, anger, sadness, etc…  When we walked through one of the red light districts in Istanbul I felt sadness and anger at a gut level, it practically took my breath away.  All in one location there was Eastern European prostitutes hanging out of a brothel, next-door to an Imam’s office who would publicly, over an intercom randomly, announce marriages, so that the horror became the acceptance of a ‘second, or third or fourth wife,’ thus no longer shame, but honor.  At the same time refugees, specifically the children played soccer in the streets right in front of the brothel.  An old Church that was now a club that was used by the brothel to help lead people to itself, was a stark reminder of what has happened to the church in Turkey, on top of this, all of it was bathed in poverty; wile much of the rest of the country flourished.

We went through a refuge work, in which single mom’s, who were destitute and targets for local traffickers, crowded around for food and clothing, yet with their posture screamed of hopelessness.  I about lost it, as one little Iranian refugee boy kept jumping up at me and Sarah and grabbing at us as we walked out…I felt helpless…

We had the opportunity to spend an entire day with a family who was single handly fighting human trafficking, and had 100 rescued girls go through their program this past year…they were alone, and needed much help, but what they were doing was amazing.  Then outside of the obvious visible description of Istanbul and Izmir (amazing, beautiful and awe inspiring) the other words I would use are: complex,  powerful, crushing, yet confused, lonely, lost, etc, yet the people were amazing.

I’ve been several places – from Moscow, to the poorest villages of Zimbabwe, but I had never been to a place like Istanbul.  A culture confused by the braiding together of Islam, Secularism and Greco-Roman ideology; a shame/honor culture; and a history that seemed to make every other part of the world seem as if it was in it’s infancy…

We had the opportunity to meet with several church leaders in Turkey, and talk about the great need and fresh vision for the church of Turkey – we did not expect this to be part of the trip, but it was, and is the part that keeps spinning in my head…

The question is often posed to me, in good bottom line, western thinking, “So what did you get out of it…?”  My answer remains, “I still don’t know, but I am still haunted with it, more so than before…”  I can’t imagine God would allow us to go there and experience what we experienced without being involved in the future…

I dream of it, I imagine a church that is unstopable, a rise of the New Testament church, and a church that leads the way in justice…but though I dream of this, the fought paradigm must be Western mentality…as the one statement that continues to ring true, was a very vivid quote from a very educated man who loves Turkey:

…the reason it seems we are loosing the battle is that our supporting churches are not okay with slow results, the western churches want it now, and they won’t support slow…

There’s much more I could talk about, but for now, this is long enough

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