Business as Mission
In the beginning of 1998 we were making good progress in our preparations to go to Turkey as missionaries.
The members of the Halfway House congregation were very supportive of our calling and a decision was taken by the Church board to formally support us as missionaries send by Halfway House congregation to Turkey. This was an important step in creating a support structure for our emotional and spiritual support.
Funds were raised for a research trip to Turkey with key people from our congregation to expose them to the situation in Turkey and to establish a budget for living as a family in Turkey. This trip took place in July 1998 and we were able to take Hardus with us. He was 8 years old and we thought that he was old enough to experience the country and the people for himself. We rented a minibus and a young Turkish driver who could speak a little English. He reached out to Hardus and they established a good relationship during the 10 days.
The feedback shared from this excursion to Turkey went a long way to mobilize more interest and support for the project. But, there were still a few loose ends.
We had to decide on a homeschool curriculum for our children. After extensive research we decided on the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum. Magda and I were trained as supervisors and Hardus were moved to an ACE Learning Centre to get used to the system.
To function in Turkey we knew we will have to learn to speak Turkish. To learn to speak a language that are totally different and foreign to us we had to find a way to learn. We were invited to a workshop to learn to speak an indigenous language the Brewster way. It was a very practical workshop where we were taught the principles to acquire a new language and sent into Mamelodi to go and apply the principles. Soon after, we were part of an outreach to Tembisa organized by our local congregation. We were reaching out to members of the church pastored by an Evangelist supported by our congregation. We thought that we will be placed as a couple, but in the end Magda and I ended up in different parts of the township with different families. This was a difficult experience where we were confronted with a different culture, only 30 minutes drive from our home. We learned a lot from the experience in preparation for our relocation to Turkey.
We needed a legitimate reason to be in Turkey and we needed to define our purpose to go to Turkey. We knew that we wanted to go and serve and support the small Turkish Protestant church in Turkey. As time passed we became more certain that we should be in Turkey in 1999. We knew we must find a legitimate reason to get a residence and work permit to stay in Turkey, but we had no idea what to do about it.
The breakthrough came when a local businessman in our congregation told us about a new company establishing primary healthcare clinics. It was called Carewell Primary Health Care (with no reference to current companies in the medical field) Their business model was based on providing affordable primary health care to less affluent communities with a quick flow of patients, supported by a computer network that guided the process. They were targeting townships in South Africa, but they also established a trust to support Christians who want to work in creative access countries, to establish clinics there. He arranged for an interview and I was appointed as part of a project team to set up a clinic in Meadowlands, Soweto.
It was the ideal opportunity to use a legitimate work as mission platform. It was a very different world to what I was used too. I had to quickly get up to speed with the operational procedures, getting to know all the different sections within the clinic as we rolled out the operational plan. After the clinic in Meadowlands opened the project team was deployed in Vereeniging to do the same there. I was also briefed on the role I had to play in Turkey. It was expected of me to do a feasibility study for the company, working closely with a group of Turkish doctors who have already been appointed as the preferred local partners in Turkey.
It was agreed that we will apply for a residence and work permit on the basis of this agreement and that Carewell will take care of all our expenses to relocate to Turkey within an approved budget.
Our hope was to use this platform to build relationships with everyone we met and to use the relationships as a bridge to bring the Light to them. We also hoped that we would be able to learn Turkish and to serve a Turkish fellowship with our gifts as soon as possible after our arrival.
Everything was now set and our departure date was finalized for 2 February 1999!