Famous Turkish author Orhan Pamuk wrote: ”To be traveling through the middle of a city as great, historic and forlorn as Istanbul, and yet to feel the freedom of the open sea–that is the thrill of a trip along the Bosphorus.”
The Bosphorus strait divides the city of Istanbul and provides much needed breathing space for the city of 14 million people. The Bosphorus has two currents flowing in opposite directions-one brings water from the Mediterranean Sea through the strait and the other water from the Black Sea. The rivers of many countries flow into these two seas and so water from many countries passes through Istanbul via the Bosphorus. And through the centuries soldiers, sojourners, traders, refugees and migrants, holy men and women from many countries have passed through the city.
The Union Church meeting in the Dutch Chapel has provided a spiritual home for some of these people. We often have people from 40 different countries worshipping in the church on a Sunday. Over the years the church also became aware of the needs of the refugees passing through and many programs were started to support and encourage them.
Doing good is a natural response to God’s kindness to us. In Titus 3 we read: ‘But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.’
The annual Spring Fair is a good opportunity for the church community to give their time and effort to do good. Many refugees benefit from the proceeds of this day. It is also a great opportunity to provide hospitality to the wider Istanbul community. And most importantly it is pleasing to God.