An eventful journey
Public transport is well developed in Turkey and in 1995 one could already take a bus to almost any location in Turkey. There were a multitude of private bus companies and the main bus station in Istanbul had more than 70 buses lined up on the hour, every hour to take passengers to their destinations.
In 1995 the exchange rate was 1,000,000 Turkish Lira to 1 ZAR. We became instant
millionaires when we exchanged our money! We booked the first leg of our inland journey to the capitol of Turkey, Ankara. It was a 7 hour ride. The bus was comfortable and we booked our seats in such a way that we would sit one behind the other to allow a Turk to sit next to us. Men sat next to men and women next to woman. We did this to see if we could make friends with our travel companion next to us, and use the opportunity to give the one you met a "gift" (Turkish New Testament and other literature) when we reach our destination. The Turkish New Testaments had information in it about the Bible Correspondence Course. This was a service run by foreign believers from an office in Istanbul. Turks who had questions about the Bible could send there questions to them and they will correspond with these seekers and do physical follow-up meetings when the seekers seems ready to accept the Gospel and make a commitment to Christ.
Our first stop was almost halfway between Istanbul and Ankara. Duzce is a regional capitol situated in the fertile valley at the foot of the Bolu Mountain range. Our team leader wanted to visit the small village Konur Alp, high up in the mountains. We got off the bus and took a 16 seater minibus to the village. It was a beautiful clear summers day and the view over the valley was breath-taking. After walking around we found a good vantage point and prayed over the valley. We knew that there was no known Christian presence in this area and that it was a stronghold of conservative Muslim thought and practices. We prayed for Christian workers to come to the region and for a church to be planted here.
We got back to Duzce and boarded the next bus to Ankara, where we arrived late at night. The next morning we had a typical Turkish breakfast of fresh tomato, cucumber, white cheese, boiled eggs and Turkish bread, served with Turkish tea. We were now on our way to Cappadocia!
Cappadocia is a tourist attraction and the bus was filled to capacity. We noticed that there were a number of Turkish students on the bus. A few could speak a little English. Our bus had an on-board video player with a Television screen in the front and another one halfway to the back. We had video cassettes with us. One cassette was produced by the tourism board promoting our beautiful fauna and flora. The other one was the Jesus-film in Turkish. We convinced the bus attendant with the help of the students to play the promotional video to the passengers. Every one enjoyed the short video and we decided to offer the Jesus film too. The bus attendant had no hesitation to exchange the two videos. As the video played through the opening scenes of the Jesus film, the passengers slowly fell silent as they got drawn into the story.
We sat and prayed silently and keeping a low profile. All went well until the scene where Jesus was baptized by John and God declared, 'This is my beloved son". An older man with a typical Turkish Muslim appearance and attire suddenly spoke up and demanded the video to be stopped. His demands were met with load resistance from the group of students who wanted to continue watching. We were certain that we will be requested to leave the bus, but after a while the quarrel was diffused and the video was returned to us.
When we reached Cappadocia one of the students approached us and asked if she can have the video to watch with her friends. We gladly gave her the video and some Turkish New Testaments!