The world changed in many respects on the 11th of September 2001, with the attack on the World Trade Center in USA. So did the social – political climate in Turkey too.
The initial interest and support the Turkish believers who worked as earthquake volunteers received, has taken a turn for the worst. Many were now accused of being traitors – changing the social and spiritual make-up of the Turkish nation through proclaiming the Gospel as alternative to Islam. One of the most common claims was that Bibles lined with a $100 bill were distributed to earthquake victims, to buy their loyalty and to change their beliefs.
Some Turkish fellowship meetings were disrupted and buildings used for Sunday meetings vandalized.
We were still home-schooling our children. The room we used overlooked the play ground used by the parent cooperative school for the children of foreign believers in Istanbul. The school started out with a small number of children in 1993. After 10 years the school has grown to about 90 learners from grade R to grade 9. The school were served by volunteer teachers who came to teach at the school for only a stipend, having to raise their own support for their living expenses.
Our children were missing the regular interaction they had with children from the expatriate community in Ankara, where they could play soccer and basketball at the American Military Base in Ankara. The daily noise of the children taking their break in plain sight from the window where they were doing their homeschool duties were drawing them in. We considered enrollment at the school but the fees were to just to high.
One morning during that time Magda met with the school headmistress and she asked if Magda would consider helping as the school librarian. The lady doing the job was leaving the country and they were looking for a replacement. They will forfeit 50% of the school fee in exchange for her full-time services. It was a strange thought for a trained nursing sister to consider being a librarian. After careful consideration Magda decided to accept the offer which also opened the door for our children to enroll in the school for the next year starting in August 2002.
The school was never formally registered with the Turkish Education Department but over the years the authorities took note of the existence of the school and made regular visits to inspect activities. They never insisted on registration until one day in May 2002.
That morning the authorities came and served the school with a notice to close within 24 hours and to seize all activities until formal registration. All the staff and parents were mobilized to remove all teaching aids and equipment from the building used as a school. Before Magda could be properly trained as librarian she had to pack the books in boxes and move it to the basement of our apartment building.
It was a heavy blow to the parent cooperative school community. There were only a few weeks left of the school year and a decision was taken to continue with online tuition and contact lessons at the homes of parents.
The sudden change in the attitude of the Department of Education towards the school was another indication of the change in the socio-political climate and general hostility towards all Christian activity.