Hamit Kaya's* ministry has a distinct rhythm: tea before medicine, medicine before words.
Kaya is the first indigenous church planter to the Zaza of eastern Turkey. Once a month he travels to his hometown and its surrounding villages. He uses his medical training to minister to villagers' physical needs, while using his understanding of the culture to communicate God's love to the Zaza in a language they can understand — the language of relationships.
"The first day-and-a-half of our trip, he drank copious amounts of tea and visited with group after group, individual after individual, deepening friendships and trust all the while," explains a Southern Baptist worker who has traveled with him.
"He is practically required to visit everyone each visit or relationships will suffer and the intimacy of friendships will fall away. People become offended."
After Kaya re-establishes relationships, the Zaza are ready for his help. A man calls after a bad fall, describing his difficulty breathing. A young mother worries about her son's persistent cough. Kaya sees new patients and follows up on previous visits.
With help from Southern Baptists, Kaya buys medicine from a local pharmacy and distributes it to the community. He also gives out staple food items to each family, including cooking oil, flour, and dried goods.
"He is well-known and well-liked, from the head of the local hospital down to the poorest village shepherd. He knows local teachers, doctors, businessmen, farmers, shop owners, hotel owners, restaurant owners, and the town mayor," explains the worker.
Kaya has a long-term ministry vision that involves speaking the truth of Christ during teachable moments. His convictions grow out of his own experience hearing about Jesus during a long afternoon drinking tea with a believer he met in college. After earning his medical degree and helping injured Turks following the 1999 Izmit earthquake, Kaya's heart turned toward his own people.
Today, with a handful of believers and one outreach group, Kaya is seeing God work. The people in Kaya's home province follow a strain of Islam that tends to be respectful of other belief systems. As a result, opposition toward believers so far has not been pronounced.
The Zaza number two million to three million people in Turkey. Another 200,000 to 300,000 live in Europe, primarily Germany. In addition to the ministry available through Kaya's work as the first indigenous church planter, the first portions of oral Scripture in the Zaza language are now available.
Pray for Hamit Kaya as he works to reach the Zaza. The present focus of his outreach is a small town of three thousand people, most of whom never leave their community. The closest church, which has about thirty people, is one hundred miles away in another province.
"If it weren't for (him), the chances of these people ever hearing the Gospel just one time in their life would be close to zero," says a worker concerned about the Zaza.
A Snapshot of Lottie Moon's Life
Charlotte Digges Moon was born on December 12, 1840, in Albemarle County, Virginia.
Lottie rebelled against Christianity until she was in college. In December 1858, she dedicated her life to Christ and was baptized at First Baptist Church of Charlottesville, Virginia.
Lottie attended Albemarle Female Institute, female counterpart to the University of Virginia. In 1861, she was one of the first women in the South to receive a master's degree.
Lottie stayed close to home during the Civil War but eventually taught school in Kentucky, Georgia, and Virginia.
Edmonia Moon, Lottie's sister, was appointed to Tengchow, China, in 1872. The following year, Lottie was appointed and joined her sister there.
Lottie served thirty-nine years as a missionary, mostly in China's Shantung province. She taught in a girls' school and often made trips into China's interior to share the Good News with women and girls.
Lottie frequently wrote letters to the United States, detailing Chinese culture, missionary life, and the great physical and spiritual needs of the Chinese people. Additionally, she challenged Southern Baptists to go to China or give so that others could go. By 1888, Southern Baptist women had organized and helped collect $3,315 to send workers needed in China.
Lottie died aboard a ship in the Japanese harbor of Köbe on December 24, 1912. She was 72 years old.
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering
Throughout her career, Lottie Moon wrote numerous letters home, urging Southern Baptists to greater missions involvement and support. One of those letters triggered Southern Baptists' first Christmas offering for international missions — enough to send three new missionaries to China. In 1918, the Woman's Missionary Union named the annual Christmas offering for international missions after the woman who had urged them to start it.