Last night Jim Bultima, the pastor of St. Paul’s Cultural Center, picked us up and took us on errands and to dinner. As we drove through the streets of the old city, shopkeepers would come out of their shops to greet Jim as they recognized his car. I asked him if he knew EVERYONE in the town, and he said “Well, if you live here 18 years, people know you.” It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he carried five American tourists who might spend money at their stores. I have great respect for Jim and the work he’s doing here. The man in the ceramics shop we visited (see picture) told him “Jim, I’m reading the Bible you gave me!” as we walked in. (And it had nothing to do with the five potential shoppers.) Turkey was the first place in the world where Christianity spread, and now it is the largest population of people who have no access to Christianity in the world. It is not illegal to evangelize here, but often the police don’t know that. I love how much the Turkish people universally love Americans. (And it has nothing to do with the five potential shoppers.) People have treated us warmly wherever we go. I also like how the Christians here are working together. You hear them speaking so highly of each other. The restaurant where he took us was right on the river near the falls. We sat on pillows and listened to the water. And the Turkish coffee he ordered came with a napkin tied elegantly around it, and the waiter set it on fire. Wow! Jim asked us what our “rose” and our “thorn” was for the day. His rose was us. Pastor Paul can identify with his thorn: the work on his PhD due. I had two prayer requests in the months leading up to this journey. One was that God would prepare the hearts of the Turkish people for our service. The other was that we could be a blessing to the Christian workers here. He has answered both prayers.