Our Beginning

Uzumlu lady at work

It is a sad fact that there too many Turkish men and women who are working 6 or 7 days a week, sometimes for 12 hours a day for a monthly wage of perhaps 5,500 Lira - a little under 30 lira an hour, about £1.50p. 

These men and women work all month and then pay day arrives and they go to their boss for their monthly wages. It is not always given.

With this money they will pay their rent, electricity bills and budget for the monthly food bill, school fees etc. There is not much left over for anything else.

The long hours worked are sometimes just a summer seasonal job and in the winter there is either no work or fewer hours at a reduced monthly pay. 

What can the worker do? Despite it being illegal to pay incorrectly this is life for too many Turks and most are thankful for their summer work.

A Problem

Turkswork began with a Turk called Yaşar who later became a friend. Yasar was a manager in a medium sized Fast Food Restaurant in Fethiye and a follower of Jesus Christ, a rare thing in Turkey. He had worked for his boss for 12 months but had only been paid for six of these months. Yaşar had four young daughters, no money and plenty of financial problems yet remained buoyant despite of all their difficulties.

It was this first discovery of a man not being paid what was due that led us to find that this is a common occurrence for Turks. Wages are promised but not given. Business is ‘bad’ at the moment so your boss can only give a few lira with the rest being promised ‘soon’. We met many people in similar situations and even read in the Turkish newspaper of 623 Civil Servants who had not received their full pay for 10 years! 

My bible was shouting at me every time I opened it that God hates injustice and calls his people to stand against it, to do what is right and help those in need. How could we not help our brother and those like him?

For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

What's the Solution?


I had been considering how we might help when I had a text from Yasar. His text read:

"3 days not working, yesterday food finished, even me finished. Prayer please"

My heart was broken for this man for whom hope had disappeared. 

Faith without works is of no value and so Lynda and I took some food and a little money to them (given by us and two other couples here) and sat in his home where we were treated with respect as we were offered what hospitality they could. We prayed with them, drank tea and listened to their story of working 7 days a week from 8.00 a.m. to midnight and not getting paid time after time. “If only I could open my own cafe I could feed my family, pay my rent and have time to spend with my wife and daughters” he said. “My children do not understand when their friends are having an ice lolly and I tell them that we cannot afford 50 Kurush (less than 12p). I have no life, no money and no food” 

He told us how many teas and coffees he could sell and told us of a shop that was for rent. We drove around to see it and prayed outside with him. It seemed to us a business idea that was feasible if only he could find the start-up money of about 3,000 lira (£750) and so together with a group of friends we raised 2,900 lira. Sadly a string of events occurred that closed the cafe but the idea had taken root and we learnt from our mistakes.

In John’s Gospel (written in Turkey as it happens) Jesus is talking to his friends and he tells them that the world will know that they are His disciples by the love that they show for one another. (John 13.35) 

John revisits this in his first letter by saying “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or a sister in need but shows no compassion - how can God’s love be in that person?”         1 John 3: 17

A Vision needs supporting


Two men sit under a tree. One says to the other “I was going to ask God what he was doing about poverty, hunger, sickness and injustice.”

“Why didn’t you?” says the other.

“I thought he might ask me the same question!”

God was really on my case over all of this and so turkswork came into being to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and as a means of helping Turks earn extra income, start small one or two man businesses, to help the lost, the poor and those in need.  All this, we believe, is a demonstration of the Kingdom of God here on earth through the power of the Holy Spirit.

© Paul Hembrough 2022