, communication coordinator, Middle East and North Africa Union
The director of the Adventist Ladies Choir in South Korea couldn’t believe her ears when she learned that the Seventh-day Adventist Church only has three ordained pastors, nine congregations, and 200 members in Iran, Turkey and Northern Cyprus, a territory with a population of 150 million.
So Youngkuk Ban, 66, decided to do something about it — organize a major concert to raise funds to train gospel workers.
She knew she had made the right choice when she announced her plans to the choir members.
“I saw exactly the same surprised reaction when I told them about the huge challenges faced by the Turkey-Iran Field,” she said.
The concert, held on the last day of October at Adventist Church-operated Sahmyook University in South Korea, raised more than $20,000 to cultivate front-line workers for the church’s Turkey-Iran Field, which encompasses Turkey, Iran, and Northern Cyprus. The 1,500 concertgoers watched a Turkey-Iran Field-produced video showcasing the region’s desperate needs, the opportunities for mission projects, and church leaders’ plans. Many said they viewed the concert as a mission project, not just a musical event.
Turkey alone has 21 cities with a population of more than 1 million, but 16 of those cities have no Adventists living in them, church leaders said. All three countries in the Turkey-Iran Field impose restrictions on the Adventist message.
“The biggest issue is that we don’t have enough trained workers who can reach out,” Hyosu Jung, president of the Turkey-Iran Field, said in an interview. “Our most urgent priority is to train workers so we can have more dedicated Adventists on the ground, mingling, meeting needs, winning confidence, and then inviting their new friends to follow Jesus.”
The money raised by the concert will be used to give seven months of Turkish-language lessons to 16 church members, Jung said. The training will touch on health ministries, literature evangelism, and Bible studies.
“It will provide the church members with opportunities to introduce our Savior, Jesus Christ, to people who have never heard about Him,” Jung said.
The Turkey-Iran Field, which is under the auspices of the Middle East and North Africa Union, began as the Turkey-North Cyprus Field and the Iran Section, respectively, in 2012 and was reorganized as the Turkey-Iran Field this year.
At least one concertgoer was convinced to give more than money after the event.
“I’ve decided to pray for this part of the world earnestly,” said Hyejung Park, a 25-year-old college student. “I want to serve Jesus in the Middle East one day.”