Millions of Turkey’s city-dwellers live in apartments. The doorman or kapiciis the caretaker of an apartment block, and every block employs one. He and his family usually live rent-free in a dark basement apartment, close to the central-heating boiler room.
His wife is responsible for cleaning the staircases and getting up early to buy bread, water and newspapers for all the families, on all the floors.
To supplement their meagre income, she usually takes on cleaning jobs for the better-off.
These kapici and their families are often uneducated villagers. They are low on the social scale, where scales are all-important.
The wife of our doorkeeper in Istanbul could not comprehend why we should be returning to England and leaving her, since we had ‘never troubled her’ whereas ‘all these others’ (Turkish neighbours) made her life such a burden!
Hugging me affectionately she said how much they would miss us.
I tried to explain that, for a Christian believer, love for others comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, who had shown his love in dying for the sins of his people, and who gives them new natures.
Eight weeks later we received a letter addressed to our home in London, saying that this same lady had fallen to her death, having been asked by the rich, religious woman who lived above us to go out onto a narrow windowsill, seven floors up, to clean the outside windows.
David, my husband, had to make a trip to Istanbul shortly after, and was able to visit her husband, now a widower with two young sons to care for.
He told David that prior to her death she kept dreaming that she was shortly going to die. In Muslim countries we hear of great numbers of people who not only have such dreams but also dream of Isa (Jesus).
Several have contacted Christian believers after having such dreams, and some have been converted.
A given righteousness
Many educated, middle-class families in Turkey are liberalising Koranic teaching.
‘Mrs Ann, I just cannot see any difference in character and life between a good Muslim and a good Christian. Both their teachings lead to Allah, but they are just different journeys.’
This was the comment made by our lawyer friend whose husband, as a baby, had been cradled in the arms of the great Republican President Atatürk (his father had been the president’s personal bodyguard).
I explained: ‘The difference lies with a righteousness given and accepted by God. Self-reformation and obedience produce self-righteousness, always marred by a sinful nature.
‘The “given” righteousness of the sinless, holy Son of God, Jesus, and the gift of a new nature produced by the Holy Spirit are alone acceptable to God. There is nothing good in us.’
Anxiety marked her face. Until the Lord opens the hearts of Muslims to recognise the kind of God he truly is, they will never long to be clothed in Christ’s righteousness.
When David and I were living in an Aegean town, a secondary school colleague and I were together one evening in the home of another teacher.
Looking into my face she said, ‘I can see from your eyes you are a true Christian believer.
‘For eight years I’ve been asking God to send me a Christian to explain what the New Testament means, having been given one by an English Christian tourist. I now believe Christianity is the truth.’
Imagine the joy my husband had in being able to teach her about the Saviour.
Her head teacher and a retired police officer both told us later that they were studying Bibles given to them, but were afraid of persecution if discovered.
The Lord is at work in Turkey.