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Redemption Out of Rubble

Redemption Out of Rubble

“What we experienced was truly appalling and horrendous … But in the midst of those terribly hard times, those difficulties, we began to see wonderful things the Lord was doing. God started to work so powerfully through us, so much so that even now I cannot believe the amazing things God is doing,” Selin* shares. “I ask myself if they are real!”

Selin and her husband, Adem, pastor of ACC Church, were suddenly immersed into unthinkable hardship when an earthquake on February 6, 2023 shook their community to shambles. Among the over 50,000 people in Türkiye and Syria who lost their lives were hundreds of their neighbors, and they were surrounded by hundreds of thousands in dire need of basic necessities and hope.

Yet, amid their grief and shock, they saw opportunities to reflect God’s love and devoted themselves to helping their neighbors. When a subsequent quake damaged their home, they and their son moved into their car and they continued serving, often for 24 hours at a time with just a few hours of cramped and interrupted sleep beforehand. Yet, during these early days of acute hardship, they were confident in the Lord’s ability to work. As Selin shared with friends, “I still have high hopes because I can clearly see God's hand, His love and His compassion in these terrible events.”

The couple’s hope was grounded in an unfailing and gracious Father. And across the world, God was using His people—people they’d never met—to meet their needs, and through them, the needs of thousands. Together they gave over $500,000 toward earthquake relief through the Christar Relief and Refugee Fund, equipping several national partner churches to serve beyond their own capacity in a time of overwhelming need.

ACC was one of those churches. Thanks to the generosity of the many believers who gave, the handful of believers who remained in the community have been able to demonstrate God’s compassion in numerous ways, from distributing winter clothing to holding programs for children who’ve been displaced. These donated funds have also equipped them to host the waves of volunteers who arrived in their community. Housing containers purchased with donations provided an initial staging area for ministry, as well as shelter for those who came to serve alongside them and had, until that point, been sleeping in their cars or in tents. One container has served as Adem and Selin’s home, and they plan to continue living there until reconstruction is complete.

The rebuilding process will take years, but for the couple it also represents the next chapter in the fellowship where they’ve served for a quarter century. In 1999 God used Adem and Selin to establish ACC Church, where they ministered faithfully for over two decades, asking the Lord to grow their congregation in their predominantly Muslim community.

“For 22 years, we often prayed that God would give us a permanent home for the fellowship. We shared the gospel all the time,” Selin recalls. “We held Christian concerts and hosted many other events in order to bring people to the church.” Yet, after more than two decades of faithful ministry, the church remained relatively unknown.

But, Selin exclaims, “What we could not do in 22 years, God did within four months! But now, within a few short months, everyone in the area around us calls us Christians. … This is truly very amazing to us.”

The church’s service, made possible by people on the other side of the world, has not only made them known in the community; it is drawing people to come and learn more about the faith of the people who have shown them kindness and compassion. “These people are neither Christian nor Christian-background people. These are new people from the community,” Selin explains. “People are hungry. Their hearts are very open. And they are coming continually every week.”

Gifts to the Relief and Refugees Fund have continued to allow the church to expand its outreach in response to growing interest. These funds have provided a salary for a children’s ministry worker who serves four days a week, and they’ve converted a donated housing container into dedicated space where young people can learn about Jesus. By the end of 2023, over 300 children were regularly coming to activities held by the church—more than six times the number who participated before the earthquake.

These donations have also enabled the church to build a permanent ministry center, where they began hosting outreach events even before construction was complete. Just over 100 people attended the worship service the first Sunday of December, and by Christmas, up to 200 people were showing up weekly.

When the crowd that attended the center’s main Christmas event exceeded the space, they rolled up the rear, tent-like “wall” and borrowed chairs and stools from neighbors to create outdoor seating, allowing all who came to participate. By the end of the year, over 60 people expressed serious interest in the gospel.

“We are seeing that there truly is much fruit here,” Selin says. “The Lord brought into being this new church group. Pray that God would give us wisdom and understanding as we interact with the new believers and those who are interested in learning about our belief in God. Pray that God gives us strength and stamina, that He would give us much love, that He would show us how to act … and that He would show us how to share more of His love with them.”

She adds, “Thank you so, so much to each of you who is standing with us! May God bless each one of you.”

Participate by Praying:

  • Praise God for enabling ACC Church to powerfully demonstrate God’s love in the earthquake zone through the generosity of donors around the world.
  • Ask the Lord to provide more believers to come alongside ACC Church in ministry.
  • Pray for wisdom in serving well throughout the rebuilding process.
  • Pray that those who are hearing the gospel will be drawn to Christ and that the Body of Christ in this community will grow.

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