BLI* was born in Germany to Turkish parents. Although he was not born in Turkey, he was raised according to Turkish culture. His first language and cultural heritage were Turkish and his family returned often, giving BLI a love and appreciation for the country. While his parents were culturally Islamic, BLI grew up in a secular environment, choosing Zen-Buddhism as his faith during his teens. He shares, “As a ferocious reader I read and disliked Islam, Christianity, and other ‘book religions’, considering them irrelevant and not up-to-date.”
Yet God kept placing Christians in his life. A high school teacher made a positive impression on BLI when the teacher shared that his faith in Jesus enabled him to deal with pain and suffering as a WWII survivor.
After college, a relationship with a colleague challenged BLI to reconsider Jesus. They conversed often about religion and ethics over the years, and BLI became open to attending church and re-reading the Bible with new eyes. BLI saw his need for a savior and embraced Christ. A couple of years later, this colleague became his wife.
BLI holds a PhD in physics and has worked at the University of Hamburg and served as a pastor at Hamburgprojekt Church, and he did a two-year church planting residency there in preparation to lead a new church in Istanbul. He earned his M.Th. at Martin Bucer Seminary and was ordained as a minister in 2016.
He and his family reside in Istanbul. Their desire is to lead a church that will also help start churches in other neighborhoods in Istanbul.