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, 12 hours a day for a monthly wage promised of perhaps 2,500 Lira - a little over £310 per month

These men and women work all month and then pay day arrives and they go to their boss for their wages. It is not always given, although this is changing gradually. More common is that the worker will not get his insurance paid as it costs the employer about one third of the wages paid. It is illegal, but it happens. 

Without any insurance there is no medical cover for the worker and his family and this can prove very expensive or it means that available treatment doesn’t happen.

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? This is normal life in Turkey and most are thankful for their summer work. Our friend works 12 hours for just 70 lira per day (appx £9) which although illegal is not uncommon here.

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 all their difficulties.

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! 

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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 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 1 lira (less than 15p). I have no life, no money and no food” 

From this suggestion we ended up opening a cafe which sadly only lasted three years but it played an important role in the lives of many people.  We found that unless there is a team to focus all of their time on the cafe it could not succeed, and so after many losses we closed the cafe down, selling it on to two Turkish ladies.

So, a Vision needs supporting

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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 as a means of raising money to start a business here in Turkey and to help those in need.  The Cafe was one of those aims but we also assisted small one or two man businesses that required little start up capital: a Cleaning business, Jewellery making, Gardening etc. - all jobs that can help a family's finances.

Business as Outreach

The aim of these businesses are threefold: 

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Work that pays To have a good job that pays a reasonable wage, pays insurance and allows time away from work to have a family life too. Many jobs are for 6 days a week, 12 hours a day and is a lifestyle rather than an occupation. 

Work that releases To help local believers (although work is not intended exclusively for believers only) find work that will allow them to earn an income but also to be free to use the gifting God has given them for the benefit of others. If the church in Turkey is to grow it needs to be led by Turks who have the time and money to do so - St Paul was a perfect example of this for us here in Turkey!

Work that is a witness to Gods love. We believe that the Gospel must be demonstrated and the Kingdom of God lived out in the workplace. I long to see a business as somewhere that the love of God can be demonstrated and the Kingdom shared with the community around. In order to do this we require the help of those outside Turkey but it’s an exciting ingredient of the Great Commission. 


All of the above are worthy things but with the benefit of some years experience in trying to grow such businesses we are at a loss as to how a business can function legally in every way but be profitable (or at least not make continual losses).  Please pray for Gods’ guidance on this and do let us know of anything that impacts you.

Thank you

© Paul Hembrough 2014