Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked… Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?
Relate: The music was very different. Both the songs and the style were very different from what I was used to. And they were singing in Farsi. I don’t know Farsi. Even still, there was something about it all that was very familiar. The Spirit of God was tangible in this place. I didn’t have to recognize the tune or understand the words to be able to participate in worship. I felt right at home in this community of about forty Iranian refugees.
About a kilometer away, at the same time, another group of people was doing the same thing. A couple dozen people, mostly African students attending the local university, were worshipping God in English. Many of them had a heavy French accent to that English. While the style isn’t that different from what I might hear from Brooklyn Tab or Fred Hammond, these were worship songs created by worship artists like Sinach, Zaza, or Atta Boafo. I was mostly familiar with both the language and the style but the Spirit in the room is the same as that in the Iranian church.
Also nearby would be a group of about 15-20 Turkish believers. Their sound was similar to that of my Iranian brothers and sisters. I would have to say that the Iranian church had better musicians, but what the Turks lacked in this area, they made up for in energy. I am nowhere near fluent in Turkish but I am familiar enough at this point to understand and sing along even if they might smile at my poor accent. Later, in the same building, a group of about 25 Syrian refugees would also be worshipping God in Arabic. I can say hello and goodbye and count to ten in Arabic but that is about it. The only other Arabic I could claim knowing are the loan words Arabic and Turkish share. All four of these congregations sing in different languages and musical styles, but they are united by one Spirit.
You could add to these four churches about a half dozen house groups that would be meeting somewhere throughout the city each week. One of those would be in my living room. There are also various families who would find other ways to worship. A French and Ukrainian couple I met with most Tuesdays would join with their home church in Kyiv every Sunday thanks to the blessing of the internet. If you were to add up all the “righteous” (to use Abraham’s word) in the city you were probably looking at about 200 people… perhaps less. There are officially 1.5 million in my old hometown with another few hundred thousand refugees not included in the number. That means that the number of believers makes up less than 1% of 1%. Abraham talked God down into sparing Sodom and Gomorrah if ten righteous could be found. In order to hit the same ratio, the cities would have needed a combined population of about 100,000. We don’t know exactly how populated the area was, but our best guess is between a third and a fifth of this number. If you include Lot, and his daughters, the only ones who were spared, there were about as many “righteous” in Sodom as there are in Gaziantep today.
React: Perhaps someday things might change, but as things currently stand, I am not able to reenter Turkey. Many of those who were counted above will be leaving upon graduation or have left already since they were part of some NGO project with refugees that has completed its mission. We need more people to get up and go. Lord willing, in a couple months I will be getting back on a plane to head to a new city in a new country where such statistics and ratios will be just as bad. From Ezekiel 22:30 we know that if Abraham had not stopped, God likely would have gone with him all the way down to one. But there was not even one in Ezekiel’s day who was willing to step up and “stand in the gap.” Although the Bible calls Lot a righteous man, he was a failure. Not only did he not even win one friend and neighbor to the Lord, but he also wasn’t even influencing his own family. By the same standard, how many of us would be considered failures? For what city, for what community am I standing in the gap? Or are we just sitting silent behind our computer screens bemoaning the spiritual decay of the world around us?
Send out workers. You said that the fields are ready for harvest, but the laborers are too few. This is as true today as it was two thousand years ago. There are places and cities throughout the world desperate to hear from You, and yet too many of us sit silently in our comfortable first-world homes doing nothing. Send us out. We need people who will stand in the gaps. Lot failed as a light to his city. Abraham stopped short in his intercession. Do not let the same be said of us. Give us no peace, let us have no rest, until the whole world has had an opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the gospel.
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