The phrase ‘goals in extra time’ is now familiar to many, especially to those of the post-war ‘baby boomers’ group, now assumed to be enjoying a pleasant retirement! Perhaps my life always did fail to conform to the norm as I became a Christian in my first weeks of being a university student—seriously affecting my own life plans!
This led to working in Istanbul for two years with a well-known student outreach group in the 1960s, but I could not stay long term due to visa and political problems. Rather, the family years were spent raising six children and latterly training to teach English to foreigners in the city of Sheffield, UK.
However, all of this experience prepared my late husband and me to gravitate to the Muslim world when we were free to do so. Initially, we had trips to Bulgaria (working with the growing Turkish church there), and we then lived in Turkey itself for three years from 2002 with a retirement visa.
My English teaching qualification also opened doors everywhere, and we continued making long trips, travelling even to India, until I found myself alone again, as a widow, in the summer of 2015.
Much adjustment continues, but I have found real fulfilment in travelling for up to 60 days at a time for various English teaching opportunities, including Turkey, as well as two recent visits to another country in Central Asia. This country also has very strong connections to the Turkic world. In my home church in Sheffield, I am friends with Neil and Sheena Wardrope (former CLC International Director) and, while attending the 75th anniversary celebration of CLC in 2016, I befriended several CLCers who were interested in having me come for a short visit to help them improve various aspects of their spoken English.
As a result, I was able to spend five weeks in 2016 and then eight weeks in 2017 with the local couple who run the CLC bookshop in the capital of this country in Central Asia. While living in the adjoining flat, I was able to be in the bookshop daily, encouraging them in their English progress.
Inevitably, I also met shop customers and was able to help some of them with their English too. I also shared in local church life (the English language International Church) and made friends with local believers. This included one lady who hopes to transfer to working with from her current local students in Turkey.
A memory I cherish is the time that together with the shop manager and his wife, and their developing understanding of English, we were able to help a mother obviously in distress. We were able to encourage and pray with her (I in English!), and the Lord gave us a real understanding of her situation. It appears that after I left, she returned with news of answered prayer and how close the Lord felt as we had prayed with and for her!
Students from the nearby university are always happy to practice their English with a lady who is actually from England! They are always glad to receive New Testaments, not only in the local language, but in English too, and, I hope, a testimony and a sense of love that they will not forget. I particularly enjoyed this involvement with the students.
As I own a small flat in Selcuk, near Ephesus, I base myself there for these 60-day trips, and, by doing so, I can still get my health insurance at 73 years old. Istanbul provides flights worldwide and so, still covered by the care and prayer of my home churches in Sheffield and Selcuk, I am able to take these opportunities to help those who wish to improve their English. Some preparation is necessary but this is more than compensated by the pleasure of being able to bless my brothers and sisters with better access to the English language.
Friendships and understanding, and often real enjoyment of the cultures come with the package and is to be highly recommended. In some areas, you don’t even have to have the qualifications to serve with CLC, just willingness and simplicity of communication.
Carol Langsley, Sheffield Retiree & Missionary