As the prison door closed behind Milad, he knew his entire life was about to change. Just being discovered with a Bible was a criminal offense in his Middle Eastern country. But being caught in an underground church meeting? Was there any recovering from that?
Milad had only been a Christian for eight short months. And he had tried to do everything right during that time — meeting secretly, being discreet about his faith.
But his city was full of spies. Even if Milad got out of prison, they would never stop watching him.
If he ever got free, there was only one thing to do: He had to run.
A TV Show Got Him Curious
Milad hadn’t been looking for Christianity — or any religion, really.
“We were a pretty well-to-do family, so I didn’t need anything,” Milad says. “I didn’t need to ask for God’s help with provision or anything like that.”
After college, Milad started visiting nearby countries. Like his country, many of these nations followed Islam, and Milad started to feel unsettled by the problems he saw in them. But he didn’t have any idea what could solve these problems.
And then one day, Milad turned on the TV. From that moment everything changed.
On the TV, a Christian pastor was preaching about Jesus and the Gospel. It was the first time Milad had heard anything like it, and he was eager to learn more.
But satellite church wasn’t going to cut it. Milad wanted a real, physical church where he could ask all his questions. He wouldn’t stop until he found one.
He Felt Christ’s Power at Church
In Milad’s country, one ethnic minority is allowed to openly practice Christianity. And fortunately, Milad’s father just happened to have friends within that group.
On Easter Sunday, Milad went for his first church service and was amazed by the experience. The pastor even prayed with him for half an hour after the service.
“I wasn’t a believer at that point, but I experienced [Jesus’] power, and I saw that He loved me,” Milad says.
Milad was eager to come back again and learn even more about this Jesus.
But then the pastor delivered the bad news.
Milad couldn’t come back. It wasn’t legal. And besides, he didn’t even speak the ethnic minority’s language. How could he understand what they were saying during the service?
Milad had experienced too much to turn back now. He found an underground church in his own language. He heard the Gospel and put his faith in Jesus. Other believers started discipling Milad, and he even started serving the Lord in ministry.
It was a beautiful eight months. And then someone ratted them out.
Secret Church Rounded Up by Authorities
Milad’s church was in the middle of a secret meeting when the authorities came. They rounded up everyone and sent them to prison. Fortunately, the prison time only lasted a few days, but Milad and his friends knew they had to get out of the country.
The group fled to Turkey. It’s a Muslim-majority country, and the government isn’t friendly toward Christians, but Christianity is legal there. At last, Milad and his friends were safe.
One day, as the group prayed, they sensed God calling them to Antalya, a tourist city on the coast. They didn’t know anyone there, but they decided to go on faith.
God’s Calling to a Strange City
As Milad and his friends prayed, a new movement was starting in Antalya.
TEAM missionaries had already been planting churches in Antalya for years. That’s a big deal because the government has disrupted many church services and blocked many church buildings.
But through friends like you, missionaries opened a Christian cultural center, giving them a legal place to meet.
During the week, people come for classes, lunch at the café or to ask the staff about Christianity. On Sunday, the center hosts church services in several languages: an international service for expatriates, a Turkish service for locals.
And then, refugees from Milad’s country asked if they could start a service in their language, too. The TEAM missionaries agreed.
The church started on the very day Milad sensed God calling him to Antalya.
Six Refugees Saved in a Week!
Since coming to Antalya, Milad has fully embraced his freedom. He attends worship services, teaches Bible studies and leads meetings for the young people.
In a land of relative freedom, people from Milad’s country are coming to Christ in droves.
“Honestly, any given week, you might have six people come to the Lord, here, because they can, openly,” Milad says.
The refugees face many challenges as they look for jobs and find housing. But they are learning to trust God. And because they meet in the same building as two other churches, they have added support and fellowship.
As for Milad, he’s certain that the God who’s led him this far won’t let him down.
“I have a lot of faith in my God,” Milad says, “and my life is in His hand.”
Want to show Christ’s love to someone like Milad? With TEAM, you can meet refugees in crisis and help them find new life in Jesus! Explore opportunities to serve refugees today.