Last night was so powerful. The Holy Spirit was working in ways I couldn’t wrap my head around to heal and restore people, and I think part of how he was doing that in me was in not letting me understand or control it. If God’s work depends on us understanding and controlling it, God’s work would be very limited, and God is not limited. Yet in his grace He does his work both in and through us. We get to be conduits, and even as God’s grace passes through us to others we ourselves are transformed.

Anyway, these are deeply wounded people. They carry wounds, like many of us do, from their families of origin and life in general but they also carry wounds from the persecution they suffered that has driven them into exile and life as refugees.

Last night I heard the story of a couple who had been arrested and tried for their faith. He was actually subjected to torture to give up more of his network, and his story made international news – he showed us the article from 2016. He served a four-month sentence, posted a sort of bail and was placed on probation and was smuggled, with his wife, into exile. If he had stayed, he would be serving a 10- to 15-year sentence. (Two of his close friends who were arrested with him currently are.)

Somehow in sharing all this with us, his wife had shared how she hopes to work as a translator and so I asked him his hopes and dreams. His answer broke me. He doesn’t have a dream for his life because of what he has gone through. This caused his wife to weep and the rest of us, too. Yet we had to go to worship, and in worship we were encouraged to pray, as we felt led, over one another. The Holy Spirit led me to claim the promise of Psalm 126:5-6 for him and really for all of us at this conference. “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

And while I await the fullness of this promise, it was at least partly realized in and through our time of worship. We raised a hallelujah and remembered our hope in Christ. We experienced his presence in ways that were nearly tangible. We confessed sin and sought forgiveness, which was given and received by God and one another. And we went out with joy, a holy hope and love for our Lord and one another. How amazing it is to be a part of this. Thank you for sending me.

Mission to Turkey
Pastor Jon Heeringa and Scott Dove are traveling in Turkey as they help train pastors for the Middle East. They are sending occasional dispatches during their trip.
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