Category Archives: history

Our New Home; “Welcome to Adana. est. 6,000 BC”

Adana, Turkey. The city where I live. It’s bustling streets alive with commerce and the busyness of everyday life. In a lot of ways its a city just like any other city around here; people going here and there, earning bread for the table. Men coming and going from the local mosque. Shopowners sitting outside their shops enjoying cups of tea with their neighborhing shop-keepers until customers walk in.

In some ways though, my town is quite different. If it had a welcome sign on the freeway into Adana, and was accurate to history it would read, “Welcome to Adana; est. 6,000BC”. Many of the places around here in the Middle East obviously are places where the first people alive setup tent ages and ages ago. It’s just no surprise that this whole area is as old as…well dirt.  What makes Adana a bit different is it’s name; Adana. It is one of the worlds oldest city names; it has changed the least over time. The Hittites called it Adaniya.  Homer’s “The Illiad” calls it Adana, and later Armenians called it Atana.  One of the names comes from Adanos, the son of Uranus, one of the Greek gods. Since moving from an important port city in history, Mersin (or Pompeiopolis as it was known in the Roman times), to Adana, we have enjoyed getting to know our new 1.5 million peopled village.

If you were to take a stroll through the city center area, and go to a specific district called Tepebah, all you would realize to be different about it is that it is situated slightly on top of a small hill. Under that hill, under a good layer of earth, lies the city of the early Hittites, the people group that largely inhabited Turkey in Biblical times. The city center as a whole is honestly in need of a facelift. It’s quite dirty and drab. Dilapidated buildings suffering from not being kept up. After reading up on some history, I guess it used to be some of the most developed and nicest places in Adana.  I recently learned that the reason why it may be remaining so dirty and unkept, may have something to do with a massacre committed there, not too long ago. The year was 1909, and the nominally Christian Archbishop of the Armenian Church who was there under the Ottoman Empire, rallied up some Armenians and they attacked some Muslims. We aren’t sure exactly who threw the first stone, but it was the Muslims who finished it; 20,000 Armenians were killed there, and 2,000 Muslims.  The place was burned as well. From this occurence, and together with earthquakes throughout the years, the area has just not recovered, or been restored.

I would like to share some pictures of the area with you if you don’t mind.   You can click one of the pics to enter a slideshow if you want.

So much more could be said and shared.  That will have to wait for another time.

The Turkish Language Purification; the benefits and drawbacks

“It’s a pity, it really is,” my friend said.  “Our history is so rich, and now we are cut off from a lot of it.”  My co-worker and I were discussing the modern Turkish language reformation that happened sometime in the 1930’s under the direction of Turkey’s modern founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.  It’s something I’m going to dig deeper about later, but first as background, the Turkish language went through a transformation most languages in the world don’t get….it got purified.  All during the famous Ottoman Empire the lingua franca was Turkish’s predecessor Osmanlaca (depicted above), which had similar grammar and vocabulary to the present Turkish spoken in Turkey now, but was written with Arabic characters.  Ataturk’s dream for his new country was to exist and partner with the West, but he noticed a problematic trend.  All the surrounding Muslim nations, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, were all large strides behind the West in terms of modernity, ability for communication and civilization.  His heart for Turkey was for her to keep up with the West, and the way to do that was to get rid of the extremely large communication barrier of language, or at least break down to manageable fences.  He did this by overhauling the language Osmanlaca and got rid of the Arabic characters and replaced them with Latin characters, thus the Turkish we know today.

My friend and I were talking about this reformation and how it had both great and not so great consequences on Turkey.  The terrific effect of Latinizing the language was the shortening of the language bridge of Turkish to English and vice versa.  The downside to this transformation of language was Ataturks “other” motive.  In getting rid of the Arabic characters, he also wanted to “purify” the Turkish language.  You see the Ottoman Empire was an extremely ethnically mixed empire. Christians, Muslims and Jews co-mingled peaceably, and with the various ethnicities there were many dialects of Osmanlaca.  Bulgarians, Romanians, Arabs and Persians lived in this empire, and as is the nature of two languages living side-by-side, they lend to each other.  Up to the transformation of the Turkish language, it consisted of Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and various European linguistic flavors.  Ataturk’s goal was in effect to place a language filter under Osmanlaca, so that as it dripped through only pure Turkish comes through to the other side, getting rid of “foreign” influences.

Well this succeeded for the most part, sadly.  My friend was telling me that most of the youth don’t know old Turkish, but simple modern Turkish.  Well what’s the problem with that, you might ask.  Language is inextricably linked to culture.  One defines the other.  One feeds into the other.  The presence of certain words in a culture can speak volumes to the ethnic history of a people group.  You take away one’s language, you take away their culture.

The same day my friend and I had this conversation, I saw students walking around with course-books for Osmanlaca.  To my joy and the benefit of Turkey, Universities are offering the old Ottoman language as a language you can learn.

If we forget where we came from, how can we know where we are going?

Can you think of any phrases or words we have borrowed from other languages, that make ours more rich?  For example, “cest la vie” (its the life).

Stats revealing how our church may be a bit off-goal!

First a quick history lesson.  The gospel arrived in Jerusalem, and from there the world knew of Jesus.  First in Israel, then to surrounding Middle Eastern countries (before Mohammed great monastery’s were everywhere in Saudi Arabia), then spreading west-ward to Europe.  Through the ages, the gospel crept further west, spreading to America, and then to South America, as well as shortly after spreading to Asia.

Well that’s the whole world then, right?  Phew!  But as far as people who know Jesus Christ as their Savior, or even knowing who he was historically, most of the world does not know Him.  So when we talk about the “least-reached people” we talk about people groups who have the least amount of believers among them, and do NOT have access to the gospel because no church or Christian presence is there in their own language.  The most reached ones being countries like South Korea and America, with confessing believers in Christ ranging in the 30% of the population.  Least reached countries being like Indonesia (which is mostly Muslim) where the believing community is more like 0.01%.

The stats below are presented to bring to your mind the perspective of urgency in our world that oh so desperately needs to know Jesus Christ.  Because “globalization” is happening and is already here, and our world is ever increasing to be an Internationalized community, its good to know where we stand in perspective to other countries, gospel-wise.  So now, the stats:

We Live in an Asian World**

(this includes the Middle East)

61% of the Worlds population are Asian

12.7% are European

8% are from Latin America

5% of the Worlds population of the world are North Americans

“Asia is the only continent where Christianity is not the largest religion.”

“Asia is our greatest challenge for world missions.”

America is Packed Full of Churches

The US and Canada have 575,000 churches, or one church for every 537 people.

In Turkey there is approx. 1 BELIEVER for every 2.5 Million people in Turkey.  About one church for every 5.5 million people.  That’s like ONE church for New York, of about 150 people.

In some places the stats are worse, like India and Pakistan.

Least-Reached People groups by Blocs

Western (much of Europe) – 100 Million

Tribal/animalist – 242 Million

Buddhist – 376 Million

Chinese – 400 Million

Hindu – 841 Million

Muslim – 1.27 Billion

Foreign Missionaries Working in those Least reached Blocs

Western – 60,000

Tribal/animist – 11,200

Muslim – 7,000

Hindu – 5,000

Chinese – 2,000

Buddhist – 1,800

We are Good at Reaching the Churched Here in the West

(Not in the stats, but ask yourself how many people you know have attended church once, grew up in the church, have heard of Jesus Christ, have a Bible but not read it, or just heard of Christmas or Easter)

74% of our Foreign Ministers we send out, are sent to reach “nominal Christians” either in the America’s or Europe.

If Asia consists of 61% of the Worlds pop. how many are we sending to Asia?

1% to Jewish people

2% to Chinese (Asia)

3% to Buddhists (Asia)

4% non-religious Aetheists

6% to Muslims (Asia)

Where There is Darkness There Aren’t Enough Candles

Ratio of Foreign Ministers per Million in Geographical areas

<25 FM’s per Million in Middle East

<25 in Eurasia

<25 in Asia

85 FM’s per Million in Africa

100 in Europe

175 in Caribbean

415 in Latin America

500 in Pacific per Million

If the church is the body, are we more like a mis-proportioned body builder, who only works out his biceps, but forgets to work the rest of his body and so appears awkward.  Are we like a shipbuilder who focuses all his attention on the mast and sail, but forgets to water-seal his hull, and so making him dangerously prone to sinking?

Don’t get me wrong, local ministry of the church is absolutely necessary!  Just posing the question….perhaps we are a bit mis-proportioned?

What do you think?

** All stats and information found in “Through God’s Eyes: A Bible Study of God’s Motivation for Missions”, by Patrick O. Cate, William Carey Library, Pasedena, CA. Pp. 61-69


The following post is of a picture and an article found at an art exhibit at the Cultural Center of Chicago, an exhibit I visited in January, showcasing art made by women protesting, commenting on or who have been victims of abuse of all sorts.  The picture below is commented on by the artist in the paragraph below.

“For the Unbranded series, Thomas used magazine advertisement directly targeting a black audience, and published since 1974.  He digitally manipulated and appropriated the images, removing any signature of the client – text, logos, slogans.  He left the images otherwise unaltered, and in doing so he revealed what is actually being “sold”.  In this piece, we see a powerful black man flanked by two white women.  He is seated like a king, his expression tough, a cigar jutting upward from his open mouth.  A fruit basket sits as his feeet.  The women each drape a hand over his knee.  What is not be being said?  Somtimes the unspoken is deafening.

Advertising, at a core level is a reflection of the way a culture views itself and aspirations.  But it is more than a reflection.  It’s been called the most influential institution of socialization in modern society.  It generates its own societal values, tells us what is good, and overwhelmingly uses sex to arouse and stimulate its viewers.  Images that were considered pornographic only a few decades ago are now printed and broadcast.  Women are portrayed as flawless, airbushed, and perfect, creating an ideal that can never be attained.  They are sex objects, fragmented and often without character.  They become a commodity, objects of exploitation.  These images fuel insecurities in men and women alike.”


Making sense of Egyptian protests

If you haven’t been keeping up with all the ousting and reformation happening in the Middle East in the last month or so, you need to catch up.  This may be the one of the largest history making years the Middle East has seen in a long time!

First, Tunisia ousted their president, and he fled to Europe.  Other countries noticed, one of them was Egypt.  Egypt has noticed for a while other countries around them, have had reforms, ousted their leaders and replaced them with leaders of their choice.  Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been in power since 1981, and the Egyptians want him out.  He hasn’t exactly listened to his people in the past.

Emboldened by recent events, the poor to middle class citizens took to the streets in peaceful protests at first, early last week.  Then they became increasingly ugly and violent, as they continue to be today.  If this protestation of the government is a fire, I want to know who or what was striking the flint to get this fire started.  In a way….nobody.  Egyptians have been dissatisfied for a while.  But the reason it turned from peaceful protests to ugly violent rages, is because of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, that decided they would seize this moment.

Here is a video, from a man I greatly respect, Joel Rosenberg, that explains what has been going on from a viewpoint of someone who has worked in the White House, served as advisor to the PM of Israel, and is a believer in Jesus Christ.

Here is the video.

By the same man, Joel Rosenberg, here is a written explanation of what has been going on.

May God have mercy on the nation of Egypt, and its people.  May they receive the best leader for them, who will lead them into a government of fairness, tolerance, justice and uprightness.

A very strange man and simplicity

Today as I was coming home on the train I noticed someone peculiar enter the train and sit not too far from me.  He had a confederate style long-coat from the Civil War, army boots from the Vietnam era but fashionably shiny!  Long disheveled hair that came scrunchingly down to his shoulders and the back of his head puffed up like he had just removed his morning pillow and checked it at the El Train entrance.  When he sat down a thought came across my mind, “Why is he wearing a confederate coat?  Oh no…he is probably one of those hyper-southern boys who think the south will rise again.  Daaaang it!  I hope he doesn’t go off on any black people in here.”

Upon sitting down he creased his face with a smile ever so slight, that if he were to relax it at all, it might appear he was more constipated than smiling.  The smile didn’t disappear for the entire ride.  In fact it would ebb and flow from a full out toothy smile to a mere smirk.  Most of the time he was just sitting there with his eyes closed.  At first I thought “Man this guy has to be on crack!  He’s enjoying his lonesome self WAY too much.”  There was just something off about him.

It was then that I noticed something horrible!  His hands were in his confederate coat, with his backpack on his lap, moving towards his “mid-section area”.  He even at one point……never mind, this is a PG rated website.  Suffice to say he was feeling himself up.

That’s where my story ends, and where my introspection started!  I thought to myself…

What if he was mentally simple?

What if in being simple, his world was really really small?

What keeps me from just busting out in an all out smile on the El?

Here are my thoughts.  We all like to feel taken care of, on a very basic level.  We like to have food in the fridge, we like to feel well and not sick, we like to feel loved, we like to feel as if someone, somewhere is thinking about us and cares for us.  We have all those needs, plus needs that we wish we didn’t have.  We wish we didn’t have bills, rent, an ornery teenager to confront when you get home, a leaky faucet your wife has been nagging you to fix, or you just wish you would feel satisfied with yourself, but you don’t because you may be a perfectionist, always SOMETHING to improve on.

Now what if all those went away!!  Yeah, what if there were no bills, no nasty comittments, no uncomfortable appointments….Boom!  Gone!  What if it was just you and your family.

Our ability of satisfaction is deeply connected with our appetite of things we desire.  If a man has a big stomach, it will take a big meal to satisfy him, whereas a small stomach requires less.  A mansion requires much furnishing and decor for it to feel like it was meant to be, a mansion.  You don’t put a studio’s worth of furniture into a mansion.

Are you happy?  Do you constantly feel under-par with yourself?  Our life appetite just may be too big for us!

Coming back to the stomach analogy, it may not be what food we get to fill our stomach, but where we get the food from.  A question of sufficiency!  We are beings that have been created for eternity, therefore we may find ourselves with a life appetite that nothing mortal or perishable can satisfy.  We are in need of something divine, something eternal, something that will LAST!!

Enter into the sufficiency of Christ!!

Mr. Photoengraver

Perhaps he was quite old, maybe younger in his late 50’s but most probably, older. He probably learned this technology as it was dying out in the early 50’s and 60’s. The technology was first used in the 1850’s. Were talking old, and were talking about the graphic art technology called “photoengraving”. At a major newspaper where I work, I just put through the forms to let go of a man whose title was “Photoengraver”. I asked someone, and upon their brief explanation of what it was, I became intrigued and dug a little deeper. It was chemical/mechanic process of taking a photo of a subject through a fine mesh of wire, so that a transfer of negative to metal plating, would be more accurate. Where light hit the metal, an acid was applied so as to engrave the image of the negative on the metal. In the newspaper industry they would apply the metal image to a newspaper cover or columns, and voile! you have a picture on newspaper. Back it up a step, just leave the metal as is (don’t press paper to it), and you have the way they used to engrave metal plaques for names, organizations and such.

I wonder if he probably made photos for Al Capone, the World Wars, etc. In a way, just honoring this mans work while looking back into the history of photography.

Look at the photo below, and notice how it looks kind of copperish color, because it is. The common metal used for posters like this were made from copper.

If you’re a photographer and want to shed light on this, clarify, add, or correct, feel free.

Alma mater

History is so delicious! Isn’t it? Maybe its just me. We learn so much from it. Today I found something interesting connected with this phrase, “alma mater”.

Let me first start by noting with amazement how much we derived from those darn Romans. Culture, language, law, societal system, etc. Alma mater is one of those phrases that date clear past the death of Christ and finds its landing in early Roman mythological speak. “Nourishing mother” is the direct translation, and was first used as a title for goddesses. From there early Christians who were of Catholic faith started using alma mater to describe the Virgin Mary. Then a more traditional use of the term as we know it began in a university in Italy. The University of Bologna, which is the oldest known university in the world, had this phrase as its motto. It is thought from this use of the phrase we get our familiarized usage of this term, alma mater studorum, which translates to “nourishing mother of studies”.
Another point of interest in the world of education happened around the 1600’s through 1700’s. This was an age of reviving among Christians in which laymen, pastors and scholars challenged views of God and the Church. They compared what the scriptures taught against what had been traditionally taught by the Pope and his Catholic Church, and there continued a division that was started by other men like Martin Luther and John Calvin. What Puritans realized was that there was an extreme lack of men to lead churches, or just groups of people with educated knowledge of the scriptures. Out of the Puritan movement came a resurgence of education and scholarship. Schools were started to educate people, to prepare them for the ministry to be pastors, scholars, or whatever the need was. From this was birthed schools like Oxford, Yale, and Cambridge. Much of the great ivy-league schools we know of today, were actually instituted to accomodate a growing need for pastors. Interesting, right?