1996-2000 Adapting to Change
In the years 1996-2000, Servant Group staff and volunteers learned to adapt, a great quality to possess in any cross-cultural service. In Nashville, that meant a new approach to interfacing with the existing Kurdish community and a new platform for welcoming thousands of those newly arrived. Internationally, that meant responding to the overwhelming disaster and standing alongside a fledgling church. Yes, God was good to allow us to serve, to bring the love of Christ to bear on the marginalized and misunderstood who stood before us.
When the teahouse effectively closed at the end of 1995, the work was re-branded in hopes of attracting new friends. This included such unorthodox events as domino tournaments and poetry readings.
Days of Tears
SGI staff helped to publish “Days of Tears, “ a collection of poems by a local Kurd describing the harrowing flight from Saddam Hussein’s genocide in 1988. The top picture is of the reading in the Friendship Center, July 1997.
There Were Kurds in Guam?
The Pacific island of Guam seems an unlikely place to find Kurds but thousands were placed there prior to their 1997 arrival in the U.S. As you can see from this report, SGI staff worked diligently, alongside local Kurds, to make sure those new to Nashville had as smooth a transition as possible.
A Kurdish Church in Nashville
The Church of Kurdistan at Nashville was birthed in 1998, composed of Kurds and Assyrians from Iraqi Kurdistan, those in the local community and elsewhere. Sadly the fellowship lasted only a year; gladly we gained a joyful, indispensable, long-term co-worker named Nihad.
“Kurds in the Bible” Makes it to Europe
In a previous post, we mentioned that new versions of “Kurds in the Bible,” first published in 1993, would come. They did, and for a Kurdish man in Europe, that would mean a hearkening to his heritage, as well as a new, brighter path for his future. Here is an excerpt from his letter:
I will never be able to express my feelings as I am reading your publication (Kurds in the Bible). To me it has a far more deeper meaning more than a book with some informations…
…Very greatfully and thankfully I will ask you to send me a Holy Bible and any other publications and informations like this book which I have borrowed from a friend.
Thank you very much,
Waiting for your reply very impatiently…
Earthquake in Turkey
August 17, 1999, was the end of life for thousands in northwestern Turkey. The 7.6 magnitude earthquake also left many buildings destroyed, a gap SGI leadership sought to fill.
Rebuilding in Turkey
During the summer and fall of 2000, dozens of staff and volunteers participated in the reconstruction of school and municipal buildings in three cities along the coast. Some of our friends continue to work in one of those cities to this day.
Here, Servant Group International Director, Douglas Layton, gives one of many talks during this period, imploring the Church to follow Christ to the hard places of the world, including the Muslim one. This call continues to be a major part of SGI’s work to pray for, equip and send believers out to be the hands and feet of Jesus.