On the flight back we had enough time to reflect on the events leading up to this moment in time.

During June 2012 we brought my parents from Port Shepstone to Durbanville in an attempt to better their accommodation and care, and to allow us to keep our property through them living there and using our home and vehicle as their own in our absence.

We had also adjusted our budget to allow us to have income to cover our living expenses in Turkey whilst we still pay our home and vehicle instalments in South Africa.

Magda resigned from her half-day job at the pharmacy, and I stepped out of my role at Kingfisher Mobilizing Center.

We had also deliberately started to create emotional distance between ourselves and our parents, children, family and friends in anticipation of our move to Turkey.

Despite all this, we were on a flight back to South Africa, only a few hours after our departure! Suddenly we were four adults living in a small 2-bedroom home – a scenario that we did not anticipated or planned for. It was physically and emotionally challenging to be back home again!

Spiritually we were also struggling. The conventional wisdom that we grew up with, was the belief that when you are obedient in following God and live right, you will be blessed. I had no doubt that we were following God and that we were being obedient. However, the result – being denied entry into Turkey – did not feel like a blessing. It turned our whole life upside down and it was hard to make sense of it all.

In an attempt to get a handle on things, we decided to take time off to rest and reflect. A friend offered their holiday home and we were able to spend a week there during September 2012. We read scripture and listened to the indwelling voice of the Spirit as we considered our knowledge, skills and experience. We researched the places in the world where significant numbers of Turks are found.

In summary, we felt drawn to a ministry that:

  • Are multicultural, focussed on the nations – Turks in Turkey and Turks living in other countries…..(Is. 49;6)
  • Are focussed on disciple-making (2 Cor. 10:3-5)
  • Allows us to work closely in a team and to bring people together around a disciple-making vision and values. (2 Tim 2:19-21)
  • Will provide a platform to maximise our knowledge, strengths and skills, (2 Tim. 2:2)
  • Will provide a platform to maximise our influence – to play a significant role in the Kingdom of God. (1 Pet. 5:6-10)

Soon after this, we received an invitation from Pam Wilson: Area Coordinator West and Central Asia in Turkey. We knew Pam from our time in Turkey (2002-2004) Theunis worked with her on earthquake relief projects and did a Spiritual Turkish course presented by Pam in 2003. She wrote: “I have another door I would like to ask you to pray about peeking through.  We have had excellent South African field leaders in Azerbaijan.  They have returned to South Africa for health and children’s education reasons, though they will be active in ministry there.

I, as current area coordinator, am looking for a new field leader for Azerbaijan.  The language is almost the closest language to Turkish – more than 80% overlap.  Our teams are small but doing development work, church planting as well as business.  I think you are particularly gifted to esteem and speak into all three areas.”

Taking everything into account we believed that the opportunity with OM in Azerbaijan was the open door we were looking for.