The place: Şirinçe. 60,000 people were expected to descend upon this little village in the mountains close to us in Ephesus. Why? Some people influenced by predictions of the end of the world and the Mayan calendar were convinced that the positive energy of Şirinçe would save it on the final day when the world would end. Hoards were expected. Mayan T-shirts and other souvenirs were created. Mayan coffee was on sale. Beds at hotels were going for over $1000 a night. A group of us from two churches decided this would be a great time to share the love of Jesus and tell people the truth: No man knows the day or the hour, only the Father in heaven.
We went two days, visiting, talking to people. We were actually surprised how few true “believers” came. Rumours of a Tom Cruise visitation were rife (I found it ironic that his new movie started on the 21st … who did he think would be around to see it?). In the end, there were more news agency reporters from all over the world than there were people who believed in the doomsday predictions.
None-the-less, almost everyone in our group got interviewed by either a national news crew or one of the many students there to make documentaries. Every interview was an opportunity to share why we were there and about our love for Jesus. We were able to talk to many people, invite them to our Christmas services and hand out Bibles and Jesus movies.
The second day, we got the cool idea to serenade the crowds with Christmas carols. So guitar and a carol book in hand, we sang songs in Turkish and English about the real reason for the season. The news folks loved it! We made it on a live broadcast with one of the major Turkish news channels. People were coming up to us later telling us that they saw us on the news! Good publicity.
Lots of seeds were spread, some great relationships started. We’ll have to wait and see what fruit comes of our efforts. But what a great time we had serving God in radical ways in a most unusual place and time!