On Sunday, I had the joy and privilege of being able to preach at a small Anglican church that meets in the Swedish Chapel in Istanbul (it is on the compound of the Swedish consulate – many independent and newer churches have to meet in diplomatic or foreign-owned buildings because it is so difficult for Turkish Christians to get access to property in Turkey). They are a small group, but they have been meeting (in various different shapes and forms) here for a number of years.
Engin, the pastor, told me about a Sunday in the early 90s: he was leading a service whenan elderly man came in half-way through and sat down at the back. And for the rest of the service, he was silently weeping. Afterwards, Engin went to talk with him to find out what, if anything, was wrong.
It transpired that he was an Armenian Christian who had been a member of a small community of believers that met in the building back in the 50s. He had since emigrated to the USA where he had been living since. He was just passing through Istanbul on business that weekend, so he decided to pop into to see if anyone was still meeting in the chapel. He was overwhelmed by what he found – because back in the 50s, he had prayed that the day would come when Turkish believers would be meet in the building. Back in the 50s, that seemed almost like an impossibility – simply because there hardly were any. But in the 90s – and since – the prayer has been wonderfully answered. Amazing!