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Hakan’s Invitation

“I often feel like the Macedonian man in Paul’s dream,” said Hakan, a key national partner for Multiply in a large Central Asian country. “I am the one saying, ‘Come, help us!’ I am eager to invite others from our global family to join us here in the work of the Gospel.” 

Hakan has enjoyed a strong relationship with Multiply ever since his first meeting with Randy Friesen and others who were visiting his country in 2008. After hearing his miraculous story of finding faith in Christ, they saw his passion for the Gospel and wanted to find ways to support him as an emerging church leader. 

More than anything, he wanted to see his people hear the Gospel and experience the love of Jesus. 

In the years that followed, Hakan began to work in partnership with various international church networks, including Mennonite Brethren. The work of church planting was not easy, especially in a Muslim country like his own. But Hakan persisted in the face of much opposition, and he became stronger in his faith and bolder in his preaching. More than anything, he wanted to see his people hear the Gospel and experience the love of Jesus. 

“I am thankful for the partnership with churches in North America through Multiply,” Hakan said. “They have invested heavily in my country for the sake of the Gospel. They have prayed, they have contributed financially, and they have sent workers. This has been a great blessing to me.”

In 2012, when Hakan began partnering with Multiply, there were four North American families that were serving alongside him in his country. Soon after, a fifth family also joined. However, within two years, each of the families faced unique challenges and difficult decisions, and all five families left. 

“What can I say?” Hakan asked, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, always too few.” 

Eventually, other workers came, but the need for more remained evident. Through it all, Hakan kept affirming the need for stronger partnerships. “I want more relationship,” he said. “We need closer communication with our international partners like Multiply. We need to share the work and the responsibility, like true companions.”

Recently, Hakan received a visit from Johann Matthies, Regional Team Leader, and Rudi Plett, President of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB), as well as Vic Wiens, ICOMB Liaison with Multiply. They talked about the growing number of churches in his country and the need for ongoing partnership. They also discussed the idea of Hakan’s national network of churches eventually becoming a member of ICOMB.

“They said it would be a first,” Hakan said, “because none of ICOMB’s member conferences currently come from a Muslim-majority country. I was disappointed to hear that, but I also saw it as an opportunity. Why can’t we be the first?”

“We cannot accomplish our vision without expanding our partnerships... We need to find ways to work better together.” 

The Gospel is bearing fruit in Hakan’s country and churches are being planted. “We are growing, and we have vision,” he said. “In the past two years, we have baptized one hundred and ten people. They are all like me—from Muslim background. We now have twenty-three churches, and two more are currently being planned in strategic locations.” 

From a legal standpoint, there has also been recent progress. For Hakan, these developments come secondary to the spiritual hunger that he sees in his people, but they do make a practical difference, as he explains: “The government here just approved our application to become a recognized religious foundation. Our authority is in Christ, but this foundation gives us government approval, so that when churches are organized anywhere in the country, they are legally protected under this new status.” 

Hakan explained how the foundation provides the structural support for the work of evangelism and church planting. “We are preaching the Gospel and people in our country are finding hope in Jesus. With this legal status, we are able to experience a greater level of freedom.”

For Hakan, this means that the Church in his homeland is positioned for growth. “Now we can invite others with even more confidence,” he said. “Yes, come! Come and help us here in my country and throughout this region where many people have still not heard the message of Jesus!”

As Hakan calls for more workers in Central Asia, he is also on the receiving side of the Macedonian call from Europe. On a recent trip to Germany, Hakan was reminded that the Gospel is truly going from everywhere to everywhere, and a global vision requires many different kinds of partnerships. “Europe is now filled with immigrants from Central Asia, millions upon millions of them,” Hakan said, “and the Church there is asking us for help in reaching their Muslim neighbors with the Gospel.” 

On the trip to Germany, Hakan took three other Muslim-background believers with him, and they were joined by several others once they arrived. “While we were there, we shared the Gospel with other Central Asians that we met, and several of them heard the Gospel and also came to trust in Jesus. We are seeing this happen all over Europe.”

Churches in Germany are embracing their missional call to reach out to their new neighbors, but they are asking for assistance from Central Asian believers to help with language, culture, and strategy. “Now we are in the shoes of Paul the apostle, listening to the call for help, and responding to the invitation,” he said. “And we are planning to support the German churches in whatever way we can.”

Whether it’s in Europe or in his home country, Hakan is convinced that the opportunities for the Gospel are great, but so are the challenges. “I know the cost—we will continue to suffer for the Gospel, but this is why I believe in partnership. Together, we are stronger. When we share our resources, we can do so much more.”

In his home country, the Church has a big vision for expansion, but Hakan is humble about their need. “We cannot accomplish our vision without expanding our partnerships. That’s why we find ourselves in the place of the Macedonian man—we need your help. We need to find ways to work better together.”

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Are you ready to respond to Hakan’s invitation? To speak with someone about current service opportunities in Central Asia, please call your local Regional Mobilizer at 1.866.964.7627. 

To be inspired by what God is doing today in Central Asia, to read an amazing testimony of life transformation among Hakan’s people click here.

 

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