“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Deacon's Shoe Fund
The Deacon's Shoe Fund provides shoes for Carpinteria's children and youth at the beginning of each school year and at Christmas. Contributions come from our church family, community members, local businesses and organizations, and other churches in the community.
Freedom Warming Center (FWC)
We have partnered with this fantastic ministry that secures various churches and organizations to open their doors during extreme weather, to offer a warm, safe and dry place for those who don't have homes to sleep and receive an evening meal and sack lunch to take with them in the morning.
Along with many other churches in the area, we regularly prepare and serve dinners at Transition House in Santa Barbara, where families in need of housing find shelter, food, child care, and counseling as they prepare to "transition" to a better life.
Among the overseas programs we support are the ministry of the Vivanco family, who serve with Latin American Missions in the Greater Mexico City area. Laura, Manuel, and their four children are deeply involved in church building, Bible schools, women's programs, and the spread of God's word.
We support Care Corps International, headed by James Witty, which is committed to training and assisting pastors in some of the world's most dangerous and difficult areas, including Chechnya and northern Uganda.
We also donate regularly to a wide range of domestic and international programs including the Salvation Army, the San Francisco Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Disaster Relief, the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, and Gabriel House, a program for physically challenged children in northern Mexico. We also participate annually in the Presbyterian Church's One Great Hour of Sharing and Joy Gift program.
Below we have featured two our international ministry partners.
- Mexican Medical Ministries
- Antalya Evangelical Church
- Care Core International
Antalya Evangelical Church
Greetings from Antalya
Its time to update you once again on our church's Christmas events! This year was a little interesting for us. We hoped to receive permission to do our annual street outreach. As you may recall, in the recent years our church choir sang Christmas songs in a busy part of the city while we passed out New Testaments and invitations to our church Christmas service. This year, we were unable to receive permission to do this. City government officials gave us several reasons why they couldn't allow this to happen this year. Mainly that these are sensitive days with the war and with terrorism. They said they were concerned that there would be too much negative reaction from Muslims if they allowed Christians to do this sort of outreach in the streets. We couldn't help but wonder if this was just a convenient excuse. Turkey is a democratic country and by law we should have received the permission to do what we asked. So we were quite frustrated. Our rights as a Christian minority are not being upheld once again.
However...(and "however" is such a great word) the Lord is amazing and faithful and red tape doesn't stop Him! We did pass out about 1,000 invitations in the streets during the 2 days prior to our planned Christmas outreach service. As a result, the Lord delivered to us about 200 new visitors! This was even a bit more than what we had in the past years when we did the street outreach concert. These new guests were able to hear the gospel message and receive a New Testament. After the service, most of them stayed and chatted with the Turkish believers. In total, we had approximately 330 people attend both of our Christmas services. This was very exciting for us. Please pray for all of these new seekers. Pray that the Lord would work in their hearts and that they would want to learn more about Christianity.
The other thing we would like to write to you about is the Syrian refugee crisis in Antalya. There is so much information and misinformation circulating about the refugee problem throughout the world that sometimes its hard to make heads or tails of it. Just recently, we've felt led to get involved with some of the refugees in Antalya. We'd like to try to write to you regarding this problem from what we've discovered on our own, since indeed so much is so unknown.
First, some notable information to help describe the situation here in Turkey:
--It is unknown exactly how many Syrian refugees are living in Turkey. It seems to be close to 2 million people, but one report we read today says that "Turkey is currently the world's biggest refugee hosting country with close to 2.5 million refugees."
--There are some refugee camps set up in certain cities of Turkey, where food and other aide is given. Antalya is NOT one of those cities.
--Some refugees, often several families together, are renting small homes. Others are living in tents.
--Many of the refugees arrive in Turkey with literally just the clothing they have on their backs.
--The refugees are often hired by Turks to do labor such as harvesting and then never paid for the work they do.
--In addition to needing clothes and food, many of the refugees need medical treatment.
Some of our church members live near an area where some Syrian refugees have settled. So we decided what better place than to start there. Weekly, a small group of people have gathered and driven about 45 minutes out of the city to visit just a handful of Syrian families. It is quite amazing to us that finding people to help is just that easy. There are families and individuals with great needs just waiting there for someone to have mercy and to help. There are of course Turks with humanitarian hearts that are getting involved with the refugees, but much of the help is coming from Antalya's Christian community. We believe this is a bright light. A great and wide open door for us as believers to be merciful and to show our fellow men and women and children the love of Jesus.
As I mentioned, we have just connected with a few families at this point and we would really like to focus in on helping them before widening our circle. One thing to mention here is that a few of these folks need medical treatment. We learned last week that one young teenage girl from one of the families we are helping has tuberculosis. She needs treatment from a special hospital that deals with her type of tuberculosis. We will help her. On Sunday, we learned of another man who has a problem with his eyes and has lost sight in one of them. We will also seek out medical help for him.
It truly seems that the needs are endless. We feel privileged to be called to help. If you are interested in helping with medical treatment or other needs for the refugees, please contact us.
As a family, it seems that we have achieved a bit more balance in the last weeks, despite the busyness of the Christmas season. We believe that is the grace of God and we thank you so very much for your prayers. Joshua is thriving at school and speaking great Turkish. He wakes up excited to go to school. Levi is growing and talking and making us all laugh. We plan to travel as a family to the US in May and June to again give one last push at raising the money needed to finish our church building project. We are so close to the end and its very exciting.
Thank you very much for standing beside us with your faithful prayers! We are grateful!
Pastor of Antalya Evangelical Church