Climbing Cliffs to Fight Battles

There is a story of when Saul was king in Israel. At the time Israel was at war with the Philistines. While most of Saul’s army was hiding wherever they could find a hole in the ground, Saul’s son Jonathan and Jonathan’s armor bearer went for a walk. As they were going down the road they came to a spot where there were cliffs on both sides of the road and the Philistines had an outpost at the top of one of those cliffs. Jonathan turned to his friend and said, “Let’s go over to that outpost. Maybe the Lord will help us.”
Now Jonathan’s armor bearer had plenty of reason to say, “Let’s not. Are you crazy? Sure you have a sword, but I don’t. They are better armed, better trained, and they possess the high ground. do you seriously think we will last a second climbing up a cliff and then fighting a battle two against hundreds afterwards? And your confidence in the Lord’s help is a ‘maybe’? I don’t think so.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever taken a risky step of faith on the promise of a “maybe”? I am there right now. Some of you might know I have been serving God and living in Turkey for the past year and a half. While most of that time has been in Istanbul, my intentions from the start was to move long term to Gaziantep. While I had spent a good chunk of this summer here, my plans were to make a permanent move next June. Those were my plans. I had a budget worked out, a series of deadlines for what needs to be done by when, etc. I wanted to be wise and thorough but I have to admit I also wanted a safe paved road to follow. God had other plans.
I returned to Istanbul and continued to serve at my church and work at the school I was at when a month ago my plans all went right out the window. To make a long story short a conservative Muslim family at the school I was at decided they did not want an American Christian teaching there. Within hours of me cleaning out my desk I was getting a call from the pastor in Gaziantep I was working with asking if I would be able to come any earlier than my intended move in June.
Next thing I know I am back in Gaziantep interviewing for a school there and apartment hunting. I found an apartment quickly and I also thought I had locked down a job. I just needed to have a skype call with the HR department to set up the paperwork. That call didn’t come. A week later, it still hadn’t come. The school here is upset with their head office but they have also said that at this point it is too late in the school year to take on another teacher. Over the last week I have heard pretty much every other private school in the city tell me the same thing.
In a way this is a good thing. There is a church run school in a nearby city a short commute away with more than a hundred students and no teacher. There is another school for refugees I worked with right here that desperately wants me to come back. Both of these would provide excellent opportunities to share the gospel while teaching English to those who desperately need both. Opportunities they would provide. What they would not provide would be an income and a work visa. The income is important but getting a visa in any other way in this area of Turkey is as impossible as climbing a cliff and then fighting a battle.
I feel that is what God is calling me to do at this time, but I feel an awful lot like Jonathan climbing upwards on the promise of a “maybe”. What I need are some armor bearers who are willing to say, “Let’s do this.” Will you be one? Will you be willing to fast and pray with me that God will be able to open the doors for me to have a visa in a conflict area where they are incredibly difficult to get? Will you be willing to help support me with either a one time gift or a regular donation for the duration of this school year? If you are willing to give, you can do so through Two Rivers Church. You can give online at: or by mail at Two Rivers Assembly of God, PO Box 128, Chenango Bridge NY 13475. Just write my name in the memo line.
Even if you are unable to give at this time, I desperately need your prayers. beyond the visa situation, this is an area where the need is great, the opportunities are abundant, yet the opposition is fierce. We know God is greater but sometimes there are cliffs to climb and battles to fight that we might prove Him so. Thank you in advance for partnering with me to see His Kingdom advance here in Gaziantep.

Forever His Servant,

BJ Richardson


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