While living in Turkey, Madeline Cornett and her husband began to visit a Protestant church on Sundays. “I attended with people from an American Air Force base,” she says. “The church was in Iskenderun, and when the Turkish congregation saw us arriving each week, they would break into songs that we knew. They sang in Turkish, we sang in English.”
Madeline had met a young Turkish man who came to paint their house. As he worked, Madeline began to “love him in the Lord,” and share her belief in Jesus whenever the opportunity arose. The young man grew more and more interested. “Would you take me to that church?” he asked one day.
“You will come to church with my husband and me next Sunday!” Madeline assured him. She was delighted.
On the following Sunday, the three of them made their way to Iskenderun. “When we arrived, however, I realized that I had no idea where the church was,” Madeline admitted. “We always came in a bus, so I had zero knowledge—-not even its name. I did know that everyone gathered in an Armenian church, and I thought I could go to the police station and ask for directions.”
But Madeline’s friend was fearful. “Please, no police.” It was apparent he was afraid, so the three just drove away, not knowing what to do.
Suddenly Madeline turned to her husband. “Stop the car!”
Brakes screeched as he swerved on the busy street. “Why are we stopping?” he demanded.
“I’m going to ask someone where the church is.” Madeline told him.
Madeline’s husband looked at her as if she had lost her mind. There were about 300,000 Turkish residents here, all, it seemed in this downtown area. Noise and police and traffic … What was she thinking?
But as he shook his head, Madeline got out of the car and walked over to a young man coming by. “Excuse me,” she said. “Do you speak English?”
“Yes, I do,” he replied.
“There’s a Protestant church somewhere….” she began to describe it.
“I know the church,” he answered. “Would you like me to take you there?”
Madeline’s husband and their young passenger were stunned into silence. In fact, “For the life of me I cannot remember what we talked about on the way, or what he said when he left us,” Madeline says.
But it was several days later when Madeline realized that surely their guide was an angel sent from above. For what were the chances that one of 300,000 would speak her language and know the exact location of a Protestant church in Iskenderun? And did it seem odd that their young man was adamant about going to church, despite his obvious fear of the police nearby?
Madeline and her husband kept in touch with the young painter after they returned home to the States. And one morning they received a wonderful letter from him. He had been faithfully reading the Bible Madeline gave him, and his life had changed. “You have a Christian Turkish son now,” he wrote. “Glory to God in the highest!”
Madeline lifted her hands in joy. One never could be sure what God had in mind, but it would always be interesting..