My churches adventures in Izmir :)

Churches in Izmir

"I need to write this down before I forget how peaceful and happy I am today. I woke up early today determined to visit a church in Izmir. The passed days I noticed 2 churches near the hotel, one very close, and another on the main street behind the hotel. So, 8 o'clock in the morning I got up, and I was in the street heading for church at 8:30."

This is how I started writing about my church visits in Izmir, but I never finished it while I was in Izmir, so am finishing it now.

The first few, short visits to Izmir, I didn't look for a church in the neighborhood. But during the long stays, I started to search for one, and I found 3!

The first was the one beside the hotel, just 5 minutes away walking in the same street of the hotel. It was a 100 years old Italian Catholic church. The service was in Italian! and the priest looked a lot like the late Pope John Paul II

And for my surprise, I arrived at 8:30 and found the service is almost finishing! Ten minutes later it was the communion, and at exactly 8:45 it was over!

I looked around and had a look at the attendants: most of them were elderly people, of different nationalities, and in total there were round 20 people in the church. They didn't know each other, and as soon as the service was over, they quickly left the church. I went to one of the old ladies before she goes away, and asked her when does the service start, and she answered: 8:15! And I asked her again: 8:15? She said yes, with a suspicious look!

It mean I arrived at exactly the mid of the service J it was only 30 minutes long! And I remembered the average service in Egypt is not less than 2 hours by any means J

Then I went to the second church that I had noticed on the way back from work one day. I was like 15 minutes or less walking from the hotel. Since the first service I attended was only 15 min. so I decided to go and check the other one. And am so glad I did.

The second church was a 40 or 50 year old Evangelical church, called Saint John, it's American I think.

It was so beautiful! The service was in both English and Turkish. The hymns were so wonderful, reminded me of the Evangelical services I used to attend in my school long time ago. The priest was a Canadian one, it was this kind of missionary churches found everywhere. I enjoyed the service so much, and because it was in English I could really participate in praying.

Then after church, they did this gathering for breakfast that's found in most churches, and especially in USA where I've used to join such gatherings. So it was a good chance to get to know new people in Izmir, and there were lots of English tongues of course. The total attendants were over 40 person, varying from Turkish to Americans to Canadians to British, even an Iranian woman, who had "escaped" from Iran and married the British guy who I've come to know later. He was responsible for the prayer books and he always handed me the Turkish books first, then I'd ask for English ones insteadJ. Everyone there thought am Turkish by the way.

And on the first time I've been there, I got to know my dear Karen, an American old teacher who has been living in Izmir for 18 years now. She was round 70, and she looked so much younger. She came to Izmir years earlier, to work as a teacher in a school there, and after she retired, she found out that she fell in love with Izmir, and couldn't leave it and go back to USA.

"I have a life now in Izmir; I have my friends and service at church. I don't want to go back to USA now and leave all this", those were Karen's words to me. She was this kind of woman that sweeps you off your feet with her tremendous kindness and welcoming. She made friends with me so quickly and easily and started introducing me to everyone and the priest. Then she told me about the third church that I got to go in Izmir!

She told me that every Sunday after the Evangelical church service is over, and the little breakfast gathering is over, she goes to this Turkish church nearby, where she has a service: she did like a Sunday school for the Turkish young kids.

And she invited me to go with her.
Okay, to know the risk I took here, imagine with me:
It's the first time ever for me in this church, it's the first time I meet this lady, I do not know all the places in Izmir well, and I found out later that I had no money with me! (because I thought I will just finish church and go back to the hotel, so I didn't remember to take money)

And in spite of all this, here I am, riding the car with Karen and another Turkish lady with us, heading to this church. And am also glad I went J

We arrived to the church to discover it was just the basement and the first floor of a normal house, which was turned into a church, without an altar, without a perfect arrangement, but it was so full of love and God's presence.

First there were some spiritual songs in Turkish, with music and the wordings on the wall with a video projector, so I was able to follow. They were amazing! I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed the songs, even though I couldn't understand everything. But the words were clear, part Arabic part English, so I could get an idea of what the song said. To get an idea, the Holy Spirit was "Kutsal Ruh" J so it was clear, u know.

Then in the break, Karen told me how those Turkish people (over 50 – 60 person, the biggest number as u see) they took the Christian faith, and they started this church with donations, and they were facing lots of problems to oblige them to quit Christianity, and they gave them a hard time to give them a permission to build a church, that's why they are using this basement! (Sounds familiar to somewhere else, doesn't it?)

But the truth is, of all the 3 churches, this was the holiest, the most filled with God's presence, and the prayers were so real and heartily. Those people haven't been brought up in faith, so they appreciate it so much. They know they've been blessed and they carry this bless in their eyes and smiles. They welcomed me like they know me from years, because they knew am a Coptic Christian, and because they are so welcoming and loving. After the break they celebrated having a new member in their church: a young, cute little baby, the daughter of a couple in the church. Everyone was so happy with the newly born, and we all prayed for her & her family.

Then I had to leave, and Karen was to start her service, that's when I found out I had no money J and I do not know where we are, since we came by her car. But because I had enjoyed the morning so much, and I've prayed in 3 different churches and took their bless, I knew certainly I don't have to worry about how I'll go home. Luckily I had my mobile, so I just called one of my colleagues in the hotel, told him to wait for me at the hotel door with money, because I'll be coming in a taxi and I don't have any money... and he did. (Did anyone get worried about how I went back? :) )

For the next few weeks, I used to go to the first 2 churches, I skipped the Turkish one because of the distance, but I'll never forget that day when I went to all 3, and I've experienced things and met people that I'll never forget in my whole life..

Note: in Izmir there was also a very famous historical church called the "Ploycarpa", but I didn't have the chance to visit it. Maybe next time :)

And for those who don't know, Izmir is the city in the bible called "Smirna", one of the 7 churches in the Revelation book.


Christa said...

I loved this one Lili,
you reminded me of what I do, coz I search for churches wherever I go! and seen some interesting ones in some countries :-)

one of my friends was shocked when he called me while I was in dubai to realize I went to discover the coptic church in Sharjah! He thought I'm crazy!

what's really amazing is this feeling of peace and the link you feel whenever you step a church... wherever it is... no matter the language used... the ages of people... you just feel at home!

Jenny Pemberton said...

Lilli, I and my family are all pentecostal living in the U.S. we would like to visit the Evangelical Church you refer to as St. John on our next trip to Izmir, some Christian Turkish friends of ours are meeting us there and they are from Bodrum. If you could give me a street or a complete address it would be appreciated. Jenny Pemberton

Anonymous said...


I came across your blog while looking for churches in Izmir and I especially liked the third church you mentioned. I was wondering if you had an address for it or a name or a contact person in that church who speaks English? I plan on going to Izmir for several months in 2013. Thanks again for this information.

Lilli said...

Hello, i don't really remember the address, it was in a normal residence, in the basement... near the historical place called Assanseur (the old Elevator) by the sea