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Call it a divine appointment, fate, or poor city planning, but without it, Necati Aydin and Semse Kilciksiz never would have crossed paths.

Wearing the heavy beard that marked him as a devout Muslim, Necati (pronounced ne-JAH-tee) would never have taken a seat on the bus next to a Christian woman. But he was tired, and the public transportation system in Izmir, the city known in the New Testament as Smyrna, was overcrowded that day in 1994. He would never have spoken to Semse (SHEM-sa). But he was curious about the book she was reading.

Semse should never have told him about the Bible. In Turkey, Christians suspected of attempting to proselytize Muslims can find themselves under arrest. Necati accused her of being a foreign missionary. Semse considered herself a loyal Turk, and she boldly responded, "We should all be missionaries of our faith. Aren't you a missionary?"

Her response caught him off guard, and he inquired again with sincerity. And so began a friendship between Necati and Semse centered on Jesus. Each day they talked on the bus. As she went to her job as a secretary, he went to classes with a radical Islamic teacher. Within a year, Necati quit school and accepted the claims of Christ. He was disowned by his family—who threatened to kill Semse—and lost his job in the process.

The two had also become engaged to marry. In a culture where family is everything, the couple was cut off and alone. "We were so scared, but in love," Semse told Christianity Today during an interview in Turkey.

A Last Goodbye

Necati soon grew as committed to outreach as his wife. In 2000, he served a month in prison on trumped-up charges when police caught him distributing Christian literature. The couple attended Karatas Christian ...

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In the Magazine

January 2008

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