The theme of the Highway appears all throughout the book of Isaiah. The word most commonly used in Hebrew for ‘Highway’ is “Mesilah” which refers to an exalted way or road that has been built up. I have often thought about what the Holy Spirit was trying to communicate to the prophet. For us the word “Highway” usually draws images of a modern structure of cement, steel and asphalt with cars and trucks zooming to and fro. In the scriptures however, most descriptive passages have both a physical and spiritual meaning. In a way, the vision points to an exalted way transcending the borders and territorial disputes that divide not only the people of these nations but also believers and churches.
We believe that an important aspect of the ‘infrastructure’ for the highway vision is the opening of Houses of Prayer and Worship along this Ancient and Future Highway. God is calling and bringing laborers for this Highway from the East from the West and also from within the Middle East. People from many different places are receiving this vision and momentum to see the vision fulfilled is growing.
Last month a group of us traveled from Israel to Southeast Turkey to participate in the opening of the latest in a number of Houses of Prayer, now spanning the country. Once a center of ancient revival and the home of the Jewish people in exile, Southeast Turkey (ancient Assyria), is at the northern end of the Isaiah 19 Highway. We participated in a number of prayer initiatives during this trip. Perhaps the most significant was the International Day of Prayer for Turkey that marked the third anniversary of the 2007 martyrdom of three Christian workers in Malatya. While these last three years have been a time of refining and purging, we also see areas of growth and vision that indicate the Lord’s work of restoration in these ancient lands is moving more quickly than expected.
Pray for the people of this area of the Middle East, approximately 25 million Kurds spread throughout Southeastern Turkey, Northern Iraq and Northwestern Iran. Two workers who we have begun to partner with, and want to support, are Yakup and Silas (not their real names). They live on the border of Eastern Turkey adjacent to Iran. They are leaders of the two fellowships in this city. The Turkish speaking congregation is comprised of mostly Kurds from the area. The second congregation is Farsi speaking and is made up of Iranian Kurds, Iranians, and Afghani refugees.
Yakup and his wife came to faith in Western Turkey but returned to serve in the area where they grew up. Their story is like that of many secular Kurds. Wanting to escape both Turkey and the religion of his family, Yakup left for Europe. After arriving he promptly rejected Islam and became a Communist. Five years later he was forced to return to Turkey to fulfill his compulsory military service.
After serving in the army he got married and began to have thoughts about God. He went to the mosque and told God he wanted to get to know him. Shortly after that, God brought a man into his life that shared with him the truth of “Isa Mesih” (Yeshua the Messiah) and then brought him to an international church in western Turkey. He started to read the Incil (the New Covenant) and Isa’s words from the Sermon on the Mount really impacted him. Six months later while at the church, both Yakup and his wife accepted an invitation to place their trust and faith in Isa Mesih. They confessed their sins, received prayer and in his words “cried like a fountain”. Later, the Lord sovereignly spoke to Yakup and his wife about returning to their ancient homeland in the East to serve Him. The process took four years, but they returned and use their city as a base to visit isolated believers and seekers along this ancient highway.
Silas, on the other hand, was a refugee who fled his native Iran and the oppression there. His final destination was also Europe. Like many other Kurdish Iranian refugees he got stuck in Turkey and eventually wanted to commit suicide. Help came when a friend invited him to an Iranian fellowship in Western Turkey. He loved the worship but thought the pastor was a deranged maniac. He began to read the Bible daily and one night he was knocked to the ground by a presence. He kept repeating “God don’t leave me.” He had committed many sins but suddenly he felt an overwhelming peace that continued on for another fifteen days! He went to church and prayed, “God, touch me again and I will know that it was you who touched me late that night at my apartment. Then I will follow you.”
Silas explained, “I felt I was too filthy to read God’s word or go to church, so I stopped going.” Sometime after Silas’s desperate prayer, Jesus appeared to him in a dream. “Is that you, Jesus?” Silas asked. “He hugged me and said ‘I chose you, now go.’ I then read John 15.16, ‘I have chosen you to bear fruit.’ The same words spoken to me in my dream by Jesus.” Today Silas not only serves the congregation as their leader and pastor, but also supports the development of other fellowships in the area.
Pray for the body of Messiah in these areas comprised of small groups of isolated believers. Pray for us here at Revive Israel as we partner with others in Turkey, Israel and throughout the nations to develop a practical internship to serve on this Highway. We are excited to see how God is working this out. Please be in prayer for laborers for his Highway so that the promise of “in that day” may be “in our day”!