More than half a million Turkish speakers live in London, having emigrated generations ago or more recently from places like Turkey, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece or Macedonia.
Many of them have never had a chance to hear the full story of the Gospel. Living in the UK, there are more opportunities for them to openly explore the Bible – but reading it in a second language like English isn’t the same. It feels foreign, sometimes confusing and doesn’t speak to the heart.
To help break down these barriers, partnering with others, the Biblica team has recently translated Luke’s Gospel into the simplified variety of Turkish usually spoken at home by those living in Europe – the Colloquial European Turkish NT translation. Our Luke Explained booklet contains some extra notes to help people from this context understand certain words and concepts that may be problematic for them.
This Easter, a group of Turkish children and teenagers shared Luke Explained and their own stories of faith with others in their London community and saw God do something amazing.
God’s Word in the hands of children
Every Easter and Christmas, one of London’s Turkish churches works with Operation Mobilization (OM) to bring over international volunteers to share the story of Jesus with more local Turkish speakers. This year, Covid travel restrictions made it too difficult for volunteers to come from overseas, so OM decided to ask young people from London’s own Turkish churches if they would like to do the Easter outreach instead.
They were very keen! In fact, younger children wanted to take part too, so parents brought along their 8, 9 and 10 year-olds to join the teens.
Throughout Holy Week, the children and teenagers took to the streets of their communities and told fellow Turkish people that Jesus loves them. They freely shared their own stories of why they believed in Jesus, and smiling and excited, offered people a Luke Explained booklet. These happy young people from their own cultural background were very non-threatening and everybody took a booklet away to read.
The kids began to ask people if they would like to pray with them, and plenty did. As the week went on, one person decided to follow Christ right there on the street.
New life breaks out on Easter Sunday
By Easter Sunday, the team had seen dozens of people from the Turkish community come to Christ, so they decided to hold an Easter baptism event at the local lake.
20 new believers got baptised that day, with lots of their friends and family coming along to watch and enjoy a picnic. The team set up a book table for those who wanted to find out more, along with a prayer tent.
Dennis, the church leader who led the outreach, was bowled over by the power of God in the prayer tent. He said:
Many came and asked for healing. The glory of the Lord covered that tent. Whoever touched it, whoever was around it, the Spirit of God touched their hearts deeply. When I was in the tent, a Turkish-speaking man came in saying, ‘I don’t think I am worthy of Jesus, I have too many sins.’ I explained that God accepts us all just as we are, that thanks to Jesus you don’t have to be perfect to come to him. I offered to pray with the man, and at the end of the prayer, he accepted Jesus.
His wife came and held hands with him as he prayed. She had come to know Jesus many years ago and had been praying for her husband for a long time. Then his friend came in saying, ‘I want to accept Jesus too!’ He was another man whose wife had come to faith previously and had been praying for him. But that wasn’t all. As we were praying, another two people came into the tent, also wanting to follow Christ!
This wonderful Easter story demonstrates why we’re so determined to provide the Bible in accurate, contemporary translations that connect with people’s hearts. Together, we’re breaking down barriers to God’s Word so that everybody from any background has the opportunity to be transformed by Jesus.
Biblica and partners are aiming to complete the whole Colloquial European Turkish New Testament translation by 2023.
You can give today to help more people access the Bible in a way that connects with them.