Maybe you have heard Americans say,"a Wesleyan church in every ZIP code," or Canadians say, "a Wesleyan church everywhere there's a Tim Hortons." Since 2008, the Global Partners' (GP) Nune team has been using the tagline, "a church in every Nune mahalla."
The Nune people are Muslims. They use the Arabic word “mahalla” to describe their neighborhoods within the city. One GP missionary has given the following reasons why a mahalla is a great level of society with which to share the gospel:
- Each mahalla is already set up as its own community government system.
- There is usually a mosque within walking distance of every home.
- Neighbors are invited to funerals and weddings — major events are celebrated in the home.
- Families often live in the same neighborhood their whole lives, passing houses to children. Therefore, people notice long-term changes in neighbors.
It was my first month living among the Nune people. Early one morning, I found myself eating fresh bread and hot soup with all the head males of homes in the mahalla. The men knew each other well, and with that came friendly chatter. This was a “baby feast,” which is what the Nune people call circumcision parties for their baby boys. Of course, the imam (priest) of the local mosque was there — and not just to perform the ceremony. At his speech’s end, he took the opportunity to scold everyone who hadn’t been attending prayer time at the mosque.
Residents in the mahalla know each others’ business all too well. This is why we believe it is the ideal place in society to introduce the gospel.
The Nune people are unreached simply because there are not enough Christ-followers to communicate the gospel with their own people. As a whole, Nune people are very resistant to church and the Bible, but God has given our team a vision of seeing house churches within these mahallas.
The Nune people are unreached simply because there are not enough Christ-followers to communicate the gospel with their own people.
This graphic of vines, drawn by another GP missionary on the Nune field, best illustrates our method of ministry. At the top of the clusters is “DBS” for the Discover Bible Study. This study is a simple method to see what the Bible says about “life’s big questions.” The aim is that these two Bible clusters help group participants grow from being curious readers to committed disciples, thus becoming a church.
Among the Nune people, we have seen a few Bible study groups start, but none have really taken off. For example, in 2018, one group of women gladly gathered to study a portion of the Bible with two GP team women. But after the first meeting, the husbands of these women refused to let them meet to read the Bible anymore.
The three stems on the graphic lead to the clusters of grapes. These three stems represent measurable goals as our team seeks to hold two Bible study groups in the coming year: 1,400 hours of prayer, 500 visits with people potentially open to the gospel and 500 spiritual shares (conversations) with anyone with whom we come in contact.
We pray for the local believers, the people in our own mahallas, people whom we have shared with and everyone else we can think of. However, sometimes we feel like a broken record because ministry is slow and hard in this Muslim country. But, overall, we believe in faith that God is taking our five loaves and two fish and multiplying them in ways we cannot yet see.
At the base of the graphic is Jesus since he is the source of all that we do and all that we hope for. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Our lives and ministries must be founded in our relationship with the Lord in order to be effective in reaching the here, near and far places of the world. No matter how hard.
Imagine with us for a moment that, one by one, every Nune mahalla had a group of people reading and applying God’s Word. Imagine how the Lord would use these people as salt and light in their communities. Imagine what kind of Kingdom Force this would be — not only in this one city or country, but in the entire Turkic world.
Imagine what role you could play in seeing a church in every Nune mahalla.