Iznik is a small town in Turkey with a population of some 20,000 and situated by a lake. It’s a beautiful place. There are countless towns like it all over Turkey. So how many Christians do you think there are in such a place?
As it turns out the answer, to the best of our knowledge, is one. Just one and that believer knows of no other.
We asked some young people if there were any churches in their town. Lots of old ones we were told. ‘Any new ones?’ ‘No, there are no new churches here.’
The sad irony is that Iznik is ancient Nicaea. Two church councils were held here. Pictured you can see the site of the second council, the Hagia Sophia church (now a mosque). This church also has the grave of Arius, whose views were defeated at the more significant first council of Nicaea (that site is underwater).
It was here, in this town, that Athanasius battled for the truth (which the Council eventually affirmed) that Jesus was the true begotten Son of God and gave us one of the first creeds. Now, in this town there is just one person who believes that to be true.
It stirred me for a new missionary movement that would take the Gospel again to places where it has never been heard, even if those places, have the memory of the Gospel etched into its stones. This time however I don’t think it will be fuelled by brothers and sisters from western nations (although there will be some) but one where every nation sends and every nation receives with huge numbers the east and the south bringing with them the good news that Jesus is the begotten Son of God.