The Turks periodically visit the US and are able to visit congregations as their schedule allows. Email them to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Dan and Elizabeth Turk’s ministry
“We are excited about working with the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) in its ministries of healing and hope,” write Dan and Elizabeth Turk. The Turks serve with PC(USA)’s partner church, FJKM, as it ministers to the population in the domains of health, environment, agriculture and safe drinking water. FJKM believes that Christian witness should include ministry both to the physical and spiritual needs of God’s people and care for all of God’s creation. Dan and Elizabeth work as advisors to FJKM in the fields of environment and health, respectively.
Dan works with FJKM to help people improve their lives while living more in harmony with creation. With per capita income less than $250 per year, many Malagasy people have difficulty feeding their families. Less than 25 percent of the country’s native forests remain today, the majority having been converted to grasslands. The cutting of native trees for fuel wood and to clear fields for agriculture continues to threaten the island’s unique animals and the more than 8,000 plants found naturally only in Madagascar. FJKM has responded by helping people plant trees for fuel wood and construction wood, by promoting environmental awareness in primary schools and rural communities, and by encouraging more intensive agriculture through growing fruit trees and off-season crops. Dan helps pastoral students grow fruits and vegetables. He also helps FJKM grow native trees for beautification and to increase appreciation for Madagasacar’s amazing biodiversity. They will use these skills to help their community and families to achieve improved food security and nutrition.
Read: “In ministry with the people of Madagascar”
Elizabeth helps the staff of FJKM health department design and implement a community health program. The program works with rural communities to prevent and treat the major illnesses that threaten health: malaria, measles, diarrhea and pneumonia. As part of this program, 34 of the 39 FJKM doctors have received training in community health, and more than 150 community health volunteers from rural areas are receiving training in health education techniques and basic health messages. These volunteers teach others in their communities how they can prevent and treat illnesses before they become life-threatening. Elizabeth also advises the family planning program and serves on the national AIDS Committee. The concern for AIDS awareness and education is a major focus of FJKM. FJKM trains pastoral students in AIDS prevention and has an active youth peer education program designed to help youth live positively according to Biblical principles.
Madagascar remains one of the world’s poorest countries. Eighty-five percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day. Located in the Indian Ocean 250 miles off the south eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and is home to many unique species of mammals, birds and plants. The Malagasy are thought to be the descendants of Africans and Indonesians who settled on the island more than 2,000 years ago. Madagascar suffered a period of crisis following a coup d’état in 2009. Elections in late 2013 have started the nation on a path towards normalcy. The majority of Malagasy citizens are Christian, a large percentage adhere to traditional beliefs, and less than 10 percent are Muslim.
About Dan and Elizabeth Turk
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Dan graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. He earned a Master of Science in Agronomy and Soil science from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and a Ph.D. in Forestry from North Carolina State University. His doctoral research focused on the growth rates of more than 60 native Malagasy trees. Dan spent two years as a consultant in agroforestry to the Ranomafana National Park project in Madagascar. He is the author of “A Guide to Trees of Ranomafana National Park.”
Starting out in Anniston, Alabama, Elizabeth graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She later earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Elizabeth served as a Presbyterian volunteer in Haiti, Zaire and Madagascar. Before going to Madagascar, she was a health education intern at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and worked as a pediatric nurse in Orlando, Florida.
Dan and Elizabeth are members of Decatur Presbyterian Church in Georgia and West Raleigh Presbyterian Church in North Carolina. They have a son, Robert, and a daughter, Frances.
Dan – February 14
Elizabeth – May 24
Robert – February 7
Frances – January 9