Magda and the children were travelling for most of February and March 2000. They were visiting family, friends and congregations interested in the situation in Turkey. They mobilized financial and prayer support along the way, and many of our current ministry partners signed up during this time, 20 years ago!
The Ducze Outreach Project were growing fast and it was common to find small groups of volunteers from various countries coming to help our team in Duzce with the different services on offer. With the South African couple and our Brazilian children worker fully committed to the different programs, our Iranian friend could focus on the infra structure development. He was able to negotiate the best prices for equipment and he loved doing the land-scaping. I was still spending 2-3 days per week in Duzce.
The aim of the Duzce Outreach Project was to serve the earthquake survivors. These people were very vulnerable and we provided an opportunity for them to regain some purpose and structure in their lives. With time the relationships with some of the regular program attendees grew stronger. Although it was not permitted some of the foreign visitors coming to serve as volunteers engaged in Evangelistic activities like Bible and Literature distribution. It was not difficult to link these groups to the Duzce Outreach Project and as Project Manager I spent many hours being interrogated by local security police officers. I belief that they did not pursue persecution of any volunteers because of the value our services were adding to the community. We were however treading on thin ice with all of the full-time volunteers being either on tourist visas or an illegal immigrant waiting on refugee status.
Magda and the children returned to Turkey and join me in Ankara at the beginning of April 2000. We found an apartment close to the place where our furniture were in storage and we moved into this apartment soon after their arrival. It was good to be together again, but my work required me to spent a lot of time away from home, and it was a big adjustment for all of us.
A Special opening day for the Social Service Center was planned for the 9th of July 2000. A bus full of believers from the Protestant Churches in Ankara arrived that morning with some guests from South Africa on tour through Turkey. That morning a Worship and Dedication Service was held in the General Activity Center. This was the first sermon preached in the modern history of Duzce! All the visitors shared picnic
food amongst one another and that afternoon, the official opening ceremony commenced involving the local community.
It was a memorable day and I was reminded by a dear friend of an incident five years earlier. It was in 1995 and I was on my first visit to Turkey when we stopped in Duzce and prayed over the Duzce valley asking God to send workers to this region. We did not think it would take an earthquake to get us there. In a special way I became the answer to my own prayer, prayed five years before.