From Ruins to Restoration – New Life for a Church in Turkey
Rody Rodeheaver, President Emeritus
International Needs US
I carefully stepped down the rickety 100-year-old staircase into a weed infested courtyard, which led to a deserted interior room. Swirls of dust rose with every step I took and I coughed until my eyes watered.
As I had my first glimpse of the ruins of this church in the Turkish city of Mardin, every angle reflected brokenness. The crumbling structure was built in 1860, but had been sitting filthy and unused for the past 30 years.
International Needs Turkey Executive Director Behnan Konutgan began to share his dream of restoring this church. He pointed out the two story stone columns holding up a double archway. I listened and looked, longing for the fresh air that I knew was on the other side of a rotting wooden door.
Behnan clearly saw that this church was the work of a master craftsman, but I simply could not see it. Broken pews, pigeon droppings, and the smell of decay were all around me, blocking my view of what the church could be.
“This building is too far gone,” I thought. “There is so much brokenness.”
But Behnan’s vision of restoration had taken root, and five years later I was amazed at what had emerged from the broken ruins of this church.
Just a few months ago, Behnan prayed a prayer of dedication over the beautifully restored 155-year-old church, which is the only evangelical church in Mardin, Turkey.
At the dedication service, the congregation sang hymns that reverberated through the now gleaming stone walls and polished tile floor. The dust was gone, the rubble cleared away, and eager voices joined together in praise. What a celebration.
The city of Mardin is just a few miles from the Syrian border, and the restored church now stands as a tangible symbol of hope on the edge of Syrian lands where violence and hopelessness abound. These are people who need a new beginning.
It is a reminder that nothing is beyond the restorative power of our Savior. We all need a new beginning.
It is a refuge for the oppressed, the weary, and the broken in need of Jesus Christ. He is the new beginning.
May this church be a place where many more lives are transformed for Jesus Christ.
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