Imagine waking up on the morning of 25th December to an ordinary working day! In the media, television, radio, the newspapers… no mention of Christmas. I remember our very first Christmas in Istanbul. It was in the early 1990s, and it was strange… living in a country which does not celebrate Christmas. For those who follow Jesus it re-enforced the feeling of being part of a very small, insignificant minority living on the fringes of society. We all felt very much alone. There were no public Christmas celebrations in those days, just muted ones in the few small churches around the country.

A Normal Day with Celebrations

In Turkey today 25th December is still an ordinary working day. But there is a big difference. The Lord has been building and adding to His church since these early 1990s. We could never have imagined then that today throughout Turkey there are around 180 fellowships. Most of these are led by indigenous believers. They will all be hosting events which will celebrate the birth of our Lord and they will use this time as an opportunity to share what Christmas is all about.

Some of these churches, including ones where our partners are involved, will hire local function halls and advertise widely. A few have been refused permission to do this, but they will find another way to share and celebrate the good news of the Saviour of the world’s first coming. Turkish believers are not only courageous but very creative. Others have their own buildings and are able to invite people to join them there. These services are often attended by many people inquisitive about what Christians really think about Christmas.

The Meaning of Christmas

Many Turkish people have no idea why Christians celebrate Christmas. Santa, Christmas trees, fairy lights, tinsel and other irrelevant accoutrements that are part and parcel of our Christmas serve only to confuse. In Turkey, these things are often linked with New Year celebrations so much so that Turkish people may be surprised to find out Christmas isn’t on the 1st January! Because of this a new book has been written by a Turkish believer about the meaning of Christmas it has just been published. Please pray that this booklet, will be widely used to share the good news about the Saviour’s coming.


We have had news that a church in Istanbul held a Christmas service on Sunday 10th December, inviting friends, families, work colleagues and others along and advertising through social media. Nearly 300 people came! They were utterly thrilled by the response. The good news of Jesus’ first coming was shared powerfully. Everyone who attended was left in no doubt about the true meaning of Christmas.

Over the next weeks and days there will be many such services around the country. Pray for those who attend, whether to worship Jesus, or just because they are curious will experience something new that will change their lives.