The 1881 Project* is an initiative to see each of Turkey’s 81 provinces engage with the gospel through public expressions of evangelism. Considering most long term workers and short term teams concentrate on the most accessible or most densely populated provinces, it has been revolutionary. During the first 18 months of the project, people came to Christ, some were discovered to be believers and were baptised, and thousands of others received their first Christian scriptures. The enthusiasm for the project was so great that it has continued in one form or another for the last six years.
OM Turkey seeks to align with OM international's new mission statement: “We want to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached”. Turkey has long been called “the most unevangelised country in the world”. Other countries may have fewer believers than Turkey’s 6000, but their populations are also much smaller than Turkey’s 80 million. Anywhere in Turkey the population can be described as “least reached”.
But who are the least reached of all in Turkey? The Turkish church has long had the goal of “the good news to every home and a church in every province”. The number of provinces in which there are churches is growing but there are still more than 30 provinces with no gathering of believers. In 2017 the 1881 Project focused on outreach to 18 of these provinces with no church. Teams went out at different times throughout the year sowing many seeds and praying with many people. Donna**, leader of the 2017 project, described some of the team's experiences in the province of Sivas in central Turkey:
“Several of the team travelled by minibus to a village hoping to meet people there. They got into a conversation which ended with them visiting a home tucked under a mosque – and where their new acquaintances' father was the imam! The team were able to share the gospel and pray with several members of the family and give them New Testaments.
“Another day, the fact that some team members were washing their hands at a restaurant before eating started a conversation. They were invited to eat together with the locals and a lively discussion started. Some received New Testaments.
“A Bible Correspondence Course student joined us for conversation over a meal and the gospel was shared that night again! The Lord is working and opening doors in this place!”
Small house groups have started in three provinces that previously had no meeting.
The 1881 Project will end this year. Future initiatives will focus on those provinces without a church. Would you consider joining our final outreach from 14th-28th July? We will attempt something that has never been done before – 24 different teams going out to reach the whole country at once! Most of the team leaders are in place and we hope to have many local believers joining in as well. Contact us* for our brochure and application form.
* The 1881 Project is a multi-agency project founded in 2012 by an OMer.
Contact: [email protected]
** Name changed