In the early 1960s, believers who were eager to find Turks interested in the gospel began offering a simple Bible correspondence course. This eventually grew into the organisation known as the Bible Correspondence Course. As the BCC grew, it expanded and broadened its approaches to people by using means such as magazine and newspaper ads. Still, God gave Dave, leader of the BCC, a vision for a more public means of outreach. Based on the success in the west of music to bring people to Christ, Dave dreamed of bringing Christian concerts to Turkey and using the international language of the performing arts.
Dave began contacting various Christian artists, to invite them to perform in Turkey, but finances were inevitably a barrier. The artists expected to be paid but no Turkish entities were prepared to risk sponsoring a concert with an unknown artist. Then in March 1988, Greg X Volz, former lead singer of Petra, agreed to come with his own band and local music/night club agreed to sponsor the concerts. While this was an important `first`, the results were not what had been hoped for. The group was very fearful and the only attempts at ministry (beyond singing) were handing out lyric sheets in Turkish.
But TACO was born out of that experience, and though the dream of using music for outreach lay dormant several more years, it did not die. More importantly the experience led to a foundational belief for all future TACO development - let God go first and follow HIS timing and plan.
In 1994, Bill Drake, an international concert artist, acted on a previous conversation he had had with Dave and came to give concerts in four cities in Turkey. The strategy and goals for the concerts had been refined and they were a success in every way, with abundant fruit. In the subsequent years numerous music groups toured Turkey with continued success. In 1997, there were four touring groups, in both 1998 and 1999 there were six groups – all with ever increasing results and opportunities. In the later years, the guests were often solo artists backed by quality musicians resident in Turkey or friends/acquaintances prepared to bring their musical talents to Turkey.
At that time, several people who had participated in a number of TACO tours felt called to make TACO their permanent ministry Although sponsoring visiting groups continued to be an important part of TACO's operations, we now had a team of artists and support staff resident in Turkey. We soon had the core of a "permanent" band and the model of presenting the gospel with a mix of long term artists and those committed for shorter periods of service had emerged.
Until 2000, TACO was focused solely on outreach ministry in Turkey, but that year a church in Kazakhstan called us to see if we would come to them. We did. Then there was a call from Kyrgyzstan, and again we went.As more invitations came and TACO began ministering to Muslim people outside Turkey, we realized that God had again shifted the model and we accepted our new role – to reach out beyond Turkey into the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa and most recently to the Balkans.
Though the medium of outreach was music in TACO's first years, it soon added mime and then illusion, dance and theatre. Once again, God was at work shifting the model. As the word about TACO spread, artists in other genres joined us and soon visual artists, unicyclists, puppeteers and performers of fire poi and capoiera joined us for various lengths of time. We are continually amazed at the utterly amazing and unique talents with which God has blessed TACO members.
TACO continues to develop as we follow God. We do not know what opportunities lie before us, but as we have done in the past we want to be open and willing to respond to the best of our abilities.
What does TACO stand for?