Paul Washer: Be a Man

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Open Air in a Muslim Nation! Blog from "Faces Like Flint"

I thought this was interesting to post it here, what do you think. Should these guys make friends first with their Muslim neighbor or coworker. Their are those in the anti-open air camp who would pass judgment on these men while doing nothing themselves to further the Gospel locally. The men below say there is no better way to spread the Gospel other than open air.

Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2007
Open Air Preaching in a Muslim Nation!
Submitted by Sirrod in WAKE UP!, Faith Benchmarks, Evangelism
Faces Like Flint is extremely excited to present the following interview with David, a Christian brother serving in the Muslim nation of Turkey.
ABOUT TURKEY: According to Patrick Johnston’s Operation World, “Turkey remains the largest unreached nation in the world.” On the field estimates say that there are fewer than 3,000 known believers . In fact, Turkey has a larger percentage (99.7%) of Muslims than Saudia Arabia (93%). To be a Turk is to be a Muslim, so people who follow Jesus are threatened, intimidated and can be rejected by their families. There is a deep seated hostility towards Christians – who are identified with foreign invaders who invaded the Turkish empire during the crusades.
FLF: David, thank you for your willingness to be interviewed! We are encouraged by your boldness to share the Gospel brother!
David: Praise God; it’s a privilege to be here in Turkey at this time in history.
FLF: You and I have never met personally, but we did connect when I handed over the reigns of number of years back. Tell us about that website and how God is using it in Turkey?
David: Turks have taken to the Internet like ducks to water. A year or two ago, DSL was introduced on a large scale, which has massively increased the number of people who are “connected” all day long. Internet users in Turkey tend to be youth, students, or the educated classes—all of which tend to be among the most open to the gospel here in Turkey. Add to that the fact that many Turks prefer to learn about Christianity anonymously (for fear of what others might think), and you quickly realize that the internet really is ideally suited for evangelism in Turkey. was one of the first Christian websites in Turkey, but thankfully we can now say that there are well over 50. We’re using Google Adwords to offer free Christian books, all from, which brings in a lot of traffic. These days we’re averaging about 300 people per week who request a free Christian book or NT through our web advertising.
FLF: It seems like a year or so ago I first saw that you were open air preaching in Istanbul. I remember printing off your newsletter and sharing it with some workers heading to Turkey. I was shocked that anyone would be so bold! Tell us what prompted you to evangelize this way?
David: There have been huge legal changes in Turkey in the past few years, as they try to convince Europe to invite them to join the European Union. Two years ago they came out with a new law that gives 1 to 3 year prison fines to anyone who tries to stop someone else from sharing their faith(!). On the day the new laws came into effect, the headlines of a major newspaper read, “Missionary activity is not a crime, but a right.”
We felt that God wasn’t allowing these things to happen for nothing; he wanted us to stop being silent and begin “making the gospel an unavoidable issue” in Turkey (a phrase I’ve stolen from the Jews for Jesus mission statement).
FLF: Can you tell us about the first time you open aired? How did you draw a crowd? How big was it? Did you have hecklers?
David: We started by inviting Mickey Walker to come and teach us how to do sketchboard evangelism (see picture). Mickey lives in Dublin and has been doing street preaching for decades. If you’ve ever used a sketchboard, you know how well they work at drawing a crowd. Our first one was near a busy outdoor market, and we quickly had 30-40 people listening. Afterwards we had one guy try to tell us it was illegal and that we had to leave, but a guy in the audience stepped up and defended what we were doing, effectively silencing the other guy. We found out later that the guy from the audience who defended us was a leader of a protestant church 12 hours’ drive away in southern Turkey who just happened to be in Istanbul that day—a real miracle!
FLF: What are the major adjustments you have had to make since that first time?
David: Mickey used the cross symbol in the sketch, which often reminds people here of the Crusades, so we’ve dropped that. We also assign a person to take down the sketchboard immediately afterwards, since if someone starts getting really angry, we need to be able to pack up and leave quickly!
FLF: What is the worst persecution you have seen? How have authorities treated you?
David: This past September we were attacked by some fascist thugs who punched us and even used a long stick/club to beat us as they chased us out of the downtown area after we’d preached there. One brother got a bloody nose, another had a huge black eye, others had various bruises on their bodies from the stick. The authorities, thankfully, have almost never prevented us from sharing our faith, even though no doubt many of them would rather not have to deal with religious types like us.
FLF: Open air preaching, while exciting, is one of many overt evangelism methods. Tell us about the other methods you use?
David: we hand out tracts often, but we do it “mobile,” that is, we hand them out as we walk, instead of just standing in one place. This way, if one of the people who take a tract gets angry, it’s much less likely that they’ll turn around and try catching us as we walk the other way. We also use short-term groups to do evangelistic pantomimes, or music, or just walking up to strangers and starting conversations with them. We, and others, have tried sports evangelism and “kindness” evangelism, but we haven’t seen anywhere near the fruit as we have from good ol’ open-air preaching.
FLF: Are their any Turkish brothers and sisters using these methods? How receptive have Christian Turks been to using these methods in general? Any resistance?
David: Those Turkish brothers who have joined us have really enjoyed it; one in particular has become quite a fanatic—handing out tracts to almost everyone who crosses his path! We haven’t yet had the opportunity to have a Turkish brother do the open-air preaching (with a sketchboard), though some have expressed interest; maybe this summer?
Of course there are the naysayers, but they have been surprisingly silent, at least we haven’t heard too many complaints. I think it’s because they can’t deny that Turkey’s legal situation (re: religious freedom) really is changing, and that new methods need to be tried. The biggest complaint is that they think there are better “methods” than the ones we use, but these sort of people are usually the type who never end up finding that “perfect” evangelistic method, and therefore do little or no evangelism themselves.
FLF: Could you explain to us the importance of using the Law in evangelism in Turkey?
David: Turkey has very few consistent atheists. Even the socialist types who hate Islam still somehow acknowledge that there’s a god out there. So using the law works really well with many of them. In a Muslim context, it has the added benefit of sidestepping the traditional “religious” issues (Christianity vs. Islam, the Bible’s been corrupted, Jesus couldn’t be the son of God, etc.) and getting right to their own conscience.
FLF: We often hear arguments against the use of the Law from those that think “loving” people into the kingdom is more effective. (Example: “Don’t talk about, sin, righteousness and judgment to come… just tell them about ‘God’s Love’ brother.”) What arguments do you hear from other workers? How do you answer them?
David: Yes, we get the same here, especially from other missionaries. But they have a hard time proving that any one method is more effective than another, since really hardly any method has been really effective in Turkey so far. We also hear the “shame-guilt” argument, namely, that Turkey is a shame-based culture, and therefore appealing to guilt (“you’ve broken the law and will have to pay the penalty”) doesn’t resonate with them. To me it’s not a huge issue, because I think you can use the Law in a way that appeals both to people’s sense of guilt and to their sense of shame.
FLF: How has being bolder in evangelism affected your walk with the Lord?
David: It’s been great! I think I’m praying and fasting more as a result, I find more motivation to live a holy life, and my thoughts tend to be on “things above” (Col. 3:1) much more often (persecution is also a great help in this area). In fact, it’s a great help in battling temptation! When I walk down the street with tracts in my hand, instead of noticing how beautiful the scantily clad woman is walking toward me, I ask myself, “is this someone to whom I should give a tract?”
FLF: Scenario… I have been reading, I know I should share my faith but I am paralyzed by my fear of man. Do you have any advice for me?
David: Find a brother who also wants to overcome his fear of witnessing, and agree on a time (each week, each month, etc.) when you’ll go out evangelizing together. This sort of accountability and scheduling makes it more difficult not to do it. Then, as time goes by you’ll get more comfortable doing evangelism, and you’ll find that you’ll begin sharing your faith even when you’re alone.
FLF: Thanks for taking the time to write to us brother. May the Lord richly bless you as you boldly proclaim the Gospel!
David: Amen! Thanks for the encouragements.


Jon Speed said...

Thanks for sharing this. Amazing stuff. I had no idea that anyone was doing OA in the Middle East.

It reminds me of the time we did some OA in Lakemba, a Muslim suburb of Sydney, Australia. One of the Muslims got so upset he jumped in a car, peeled out and then tried to jump the curb where a friend of mine was preaching to run him over. That was the only extreme reaction (other than the whole team being followed to the railway station to make sure we left). The rest of the time, many stopped and listened and asked questions.

May the Lord raise up more bold preachers in Turkey and throughout the Middle East.


My Emails to: said...

How is it possible to be ashamed of the Gospel after reading this!
How is it possible to say "God has "gifted" them and not me"? How is it possible to be the judge of men by saying "I will not talk to strangers"?
Oh, thanks Jon for your comment.

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