Missionary Diary: Believing for the impossible in Turkey

Leanne* lives in Turkey, where she works for a missionary organisation, serving Syrian refugees. She has previously lived in other Muslim countries in the Middle East, and speaks Arabic and Turkish.

We sat around a long table on New Year’s Eve, 2021. One by one we shared something we had been believing for but had not yet seen. Believing for the impossible! This became my theme for 2022. God can do anything, but can I really believe for him to do the impossible in my life? Can I continue to hope for what I had not yet seen?

A day later I found myself at the seaside, journal in hand, and the bright sun causing me to close my eyes and just listen to God. God took me back to ‘Old Year’s Eve’ of 2020. I had been so afraid to enter a new year. So much had happened in 2020 that was not expected, not enjoyed, not hoped for. COVID went from an epidemic, to pandemic, to strangling and taking lives, lockdowns, depression, unemployment, cancelled flights, cancelled plans, families separated, some lost for all eternity. How could I hope for 2021?

2020 was meant to be a year of 20/20 vision! Seeing clearly. Seeing beyond ourselves. Had it happened? I was so nervous for the clock to tick over to 2021. The week leading up to Old Year’s Eve, I was restless with an inner turmoil. I could not stop the clock.

Once again found myself afraid to hope for 2022 …

In all this wrestling, God gave me these words for 2021, “I live in hope.” I may not have been able to hope for the world to be a better place, but I could place my hope in Jesus who is fully in control. Even with unanswered questions, disappointments, loss and confusion, I could place my hope in him alone.

Last year offered many new opportunities for me: a new team, new teammates, new experiences, new mentors, a new housemate, new friends, new stretching and growing possibilities.

Back at the seaside, eyes closed and pondering, I thanked God for the last year. I truly could live in hope that Jesus is far greater than any circumstance. When I could not hope, I found I could hope in Jesus.

But yet, I once again found myself afraid to hope for 2022. How could I rejoice and hope for more when so many others had struggled through the year? Depression, more refugees, crashing economies, countries fighting – some at war and others just pointing fingers. Many deaths, and some close friends who died of cancer.

Can I dare to hope again? Oh yes! I can hope in Jesus! And not just hoping in Jesus to be my hope, but hoping and believing in Jesus for the impossible. He is still the God who is faithful to his promises. He is still the one who holds the universe in his hands. He is still my God who watches over me and knows the number of hairs on my head. He is still love, Father, worthy of all our praise. The death and resurrection of Jesus is still the hope of our salvation – a free gift for all, and now even more real for those who have lost their security in wealth and riches, comforts and security, health and dreams of longevity.

Turkish delights!

Turkish delights!

So what does 2022 hold for me? If these last two years are any indication, I know I need to hold on lightly to anything I plan. Anything can change, and it probably will. I dream of visiting friends I have not seen in ages, seeing my family again, attending conferences that were cancelled or postponed for two years running. But I know and delight that God is fully in control, and I can trust that his timing will be perfect, too. Why rush back into what was, when God could be offering me something very different and new?

I’ve stepped into a new leadership role. God has placed mentors and coaches in my life that I didn’t even ask for. Two new team members are joining my team of newbies. I’ve recently preached in two languages that I learnt over the last few years! Call me crazy, but I’ve learnt to say yes to crazy, God opportunities.

The more I depend on God, the more I feel his closeness. The more I listen to his voice, the more the little things in life seem to matter. I see people more the way God sees them. I hear his promptings and take the time to obey or wait for clarification. I see the task ahead of me, and I simply want to hear what Jesus wants of me now. I like who I’ve become, trusting more in Jesus. I like who he has become to me, my everything.

My prayer for me and you is that we can become more like Jesus, day by day, believing for the impossible, especially in 2022.