During his recent 13-day trip to Greece and Bulgaria, Yuksel Kurada ministered to Turkish-speaking Muslims and found himself participating in miracles that only God could accomplish.
The stories are true, having been witnessed firsthand by Yuksel’s companions and many other onlookers. And for Christians who hope to reach Muslims with the Gospel, they are a deep encouragement toward the fruitfulness of our work.
In a Greek village inhabited entirely by Turkish Muslims since the 15th century, the residents had never heard the gospel before. Yuksel, a Bulgarian pastor, and an American friend went to their neighborhood, and began preaching the gospel on the street. Within minutes, a crowd of over 20 Muslims gathered around them. When the crowd heard Yuksel proclaiming the name of Jesus, they started arguing vehemently. The three Christians feared that a fight would break out! The yelling of men and women alike almost drowned Yuksel out, as they insisted that Jesus is not God and that the Bible has been corrupted.
Steadfast, Yuksel said, “If you can prove that the Bible has corrupted, I will become Muslim.” The crowd went quiet; no one knew how to respond to the challenge. He continued, “but if you cannot prove that the Bible is corrupt, you must become Christians.” Nobody knew how to respond, so Yuksel spoke into the silence. He shared his testimony to a rapt crowd—his experience growing up as a Muslim, his encounter with Christ, his life of jail and suffering on behalf of preaching the good news—more silence. Then he shared the Good News with them, explaining Christ’s perfect sacrifice, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.
The crowd muttered amongst themselves but stayed mostly silent. They looked at him uncomfortably and skeptically.
At that point, Yuksel spit on his hand, then offered it to person by person and asked them to shake it. No one would. Then he went to a nearby hose and washed his hand, then asked them again to shake it. This time, they did.
He asked them, “What were you rejecting there? Was it me, or my hand?” They explained that they had rejected his hand because it was disgusting. Yuksel responded, “This is how Jesus sees us. Jesus does not reject us; but he rejects our sin.”
After some further conversation, he invited the crowd to follow Christ. One lady, who had been the first person to yell at Yuksel, jumped forward excitedly and shouted that she was ready to receive Christ—and 10 others followed! They all prayed to receive Christ on the spot.
After this miraculous scene, a lady in her 50s approached Yuksel and asked to speak to him privately. Once they were alone, she asked if Jesus will truly forgive any sin. Yuksel answered, “Yes, he will forgive your sins.”
She came close and whispered in his ear, “Since I was 15 years old, I have been a prostitute. I went to the mosques and asked them if God would forgive me, but the imams said ‘No, there is no forgiveness for you, b–ch.’ They cast me out.”
Yuksel opened his Bible and read to her John 8:1-11, about the prostitute who received forgiveness. The lady was astonished; she hugged Yuksel and started weeping loudly. Says Yuksel, “I have never seen anyone receive Christ with such intense gratitude.”
We praise God for such wonderful fruit, and pray a blessing of deep faith and steadfast endurance over these precious new believers.
But God’s work was not yet done.
Seizing the opportunity
In Bulgaria, Yuksel met a pastor whose daughter was in the hospital with a serious condition. Yuksel went with him to the hospital to pray outside for his daughter. There were others standing outside the hospital, so once they finished, Yuksel, the pastor, and an American friend asked the strangers if they would like prayer as well. The strangers, as it turned out, were all Muslims. As Yuksel and his companions prayed for person after person, soon they were surrounded by about 20 people who each wanted prayer.
Before the crowd, Yuksel shared his testimony of Christ, and invited those listening to profess faith in Christ. Miraculously, 14 of these strangers raised their hands and said they wanted to follow Jesus! Yuksel led them all in a group prayer to receive Christ and be forgiven for their sins. Later Yuksel and the pastor prayed with each one of them individually for personal healing. The next day, the pastor provided all of them with copies of the New Testament, and is continuing to minister to them now.
Plans for the future
Although Bulgaria and Greece are part of Europe, many people live in deep poverty. The Turkish-speaking Church in these countries is not well-resourced enough to send missionaries. Also, Turkey is one of the largest unreached nations due to visa issues and the lack of Turkish-speaking missionaries. Indeed, outreach to Turkish speakers in Europe and other countries has been largely overlooked.
Yuksel’s work is bearing fruit, as it is bringing about the realization of a 23-year-old dream: to start the first wholly Muslim-convert church in Greece. A group of 12 Christians from Muslim backgrounds are receiving discipleship and coming together as a body. Yuksel visits them at least twice a year and calls every week to check up on them. We pray that this new body will plant many seeds and harvest much good fruit for the gospel.
Bulgarian Turkish speakers are still a difficult field to minister within, but Yuksel is plowing the field by speaking in churches, encouraging younger Christians to speak and share their testimony, and mobilizing them to spread the gospel. The eventual goal is to start a training and discipleship center for Turkish-speaking CMBs from Bulgaria, operated jointly by local churches. From this center, believers would spread out to other European countries and reach the Turkish-speaking populations there.
All of these efforts fall under the Kurada family’s ambitious mission to reach Turkish-speaking peoples worldwide, through their newly-created Turkish World Ministries. Through evangelism, discipleship, community building, conferences, and more, the Kuradas are transforming the lives of many through the Word of Christ. Kuradas are potentially planning to move to Greece/Turkey in a couple years to work full-time with supporting this growing movement.
Says Yuksel, “I hate busy and crowded cities… but my desire is to make heaven even more crowded than any earthly city! I thank God for my family who works alongside me. I could not do anything without the support of my wife and children—and of course the support of the Lord!”
Note: On October 10, in less than a week, Dijle will be visiting Turkey to attend a conference that will host over 100 Turkish pastors! She plans to share the vision of empowering indigenous missionaries since Turkish visa issues restrict most Turkish believers from leaving Turkey. Pray for her time there, that many church leaders would catch the vision for gospel discipleship and outreach.