Alison J Stendahl
Global Ministries’ missionary serving in Istanbul, Turkey
READ: Acts 10: 34-35
Twenty-four years ago God called me to Turkey to serve as a teacher and school administrator. Today I work in a school community that is predominantly Muslim with a small Christian and Jewish minority. Yet we make no distinctions. We look to God together in times of trial and in times of joy. We pray for one another. We collect money for those in need. We visit the sick together. We attend one another’s weddings, dedications, and funerals. No judgment. No prerequisites. No membership. What holds us together is that we love God, have a healthy respect for God’s sovereignty, and honor God by our actions. Here I am part of small, Christian minority, yet I am valued for who I am.
Hatay is the modern Turkish name for the ancient city of Antioch (Antakya). It lies on the Orontes River not far from the eastern Mediterranean coast. Historically home to a sizable Jewish community at the beginning of the Christian era, Antioch is significant to Christians as being the location where Peter traditionally established a church and where the followers of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26)Read more
We’d like to report that we’ve witnessed a resurrection, a return to life. It’s an institution that lives again: the Gaziantep American Hospital in southeast Turkey. Many of us thought it was dead, but it is rising to a wonderful new life of medical services for the people of southeast Turkey.
Too often religions divide and separate people rather than bring them together. Yet water, in the form of a well or a spring, has a way of bringing people together. When Abraham sent his servant went to Abraham’s homeland to find a wife for his son Isaac, he found Rebekah at the well or spring (Gen. 24:13ff). Jesus met the Samaritan woman also at a well or spring (John 4:14) and asked her for a drink. This surprised her. The Bible tells us that Jews did not share things in common with Samaritans Yet we all need water no matter what our religion, tribe or nation. In Turkey sacred springs are called ayazma. These are often ancient places – going back before Christianity or Islam. Perhaps they were once the shrine of a mother goddess. The ayazma waters are clean and sometimes believed to be able to cure sickness. In Turkey churches and mosques are often built in places where there is an ayazma. Ken and Betty Frank, missionaries in Turkey, are inspired by such places because people from different religious traditions go to these places, whether churches or mosques, for a drink of clean and curative water, and to ask God for help. Women especially seem to go to an ayazma. An especially famous one is “Mary’s House” near Ephesus. One guide for showing God’s love to a person of another religious tradition is to find something in common. Water is a wonderful commonalityRead more
Every day of good weather, we are able to see our ’whistling lady’ out on the Vaci Utca, begging for money. Always she is dressed in heavy winter clothing, her grey hair and shiny blue eyes belying the between-teeth whistle she uses instead of speech to get folks to notice her. Actually, because of cameras posted high at each corner, beggars and street-women and foreign peddlars should be cautious about plying their trades because the police are authorized to move them on out. But our lady appears quite innocuous and continues her ’work’ on Budapest’s most touristed street.Read more
In my classes I don’t have to give oral exams at the end of the school year; I can test along the way, give mid-terms, and/or a Final Exam. The (Western)Pastoral Counselling course was still quite new, but our Dean wanted it to do well. Therefore, I had cooperated when a young couple had begun attending, the two of them alternating in class attendance because someone had to be at home with their 3 year-old, they said.Read more
Father Tarcey is a Franciscan whose ministry was at the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus (Selcuk Turkey), until his recent retirement, though he is remaining in community there. The House of the Virgin Mary is a pilgrimage site for Christians and Muslims alike and is seen by many as a place where miracles can occur especially healing and conception. Father Tarcey’s ministry is with anyone who is searching for something no matter their background. He is one of the most amazing witnesses to the Christian faith. He is full of the love of Christ as he touches in a very warm and sincere way the lives of those he comes in contact with. When I was primary caregiver for a close friend facing the challenges of lung cancer, he arrived in the hospital room one day bearing a statue of the Virgin Mary. Ironically my friend had just had a vision of the Virgin Mary that sustained her during hours of pain in the ICU. He knew my friend’s mother and traveled to be present with her and with her daughter, a ministry of presence. He prayed with us during that visit and through the months ahead. Through letters he has continued to be a real and tangible source of spiritual support for me. We, as Christians, should remember how meaningful a phone call or letter can be to a person who is going through a difficult time.
The religious leaders from the Albanian Islamic Community, Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church and Bektashi Community signed an historic "Statement of Shared Moral Commitment" on March 18, 2005.Read more
Disciples General Minister and President expresses importance of Christian-Jewish dialogue on Middle
Rev. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian
Church (Disciples of Christ), has been in communication with interfaith
partners from the Jewish community following the Disciples adoption of
the "Breaking Down the Dividing Wall" resolution at the July 23-27
General Assembly. To read a release that summarizes the contents of a
letter she sent to seven Jewish leaders and emphasizes the Disciples
continued commitment to positive interfaith relations go to: