Nov. 23--Tulsa physician Enis Sakirgil opened a store last month in south Tulsa that sells Christian and family movies on Blu-ray and DVD.
"Jesus was always talking in parables that would bring images into people's minds. Movies are the parables of today," he said.
His store and the online video sales business that supports it are the most recent expressions of a family faith that extends back for centuries.
Sakirgil was born and raised in Antioch, Turkey, one of the centers of the early church, and a city where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians.
He comes from an Eastern Orthodox family in a land where Christianity once flourished but which now is 99 percent Muslim.
Sakirgil said he became a born-again Christian when he was a medical student attending a church founded by American missionaries in Istanbul.
He was attracted to the church because the services were in Turkish, his native tongue, and not in Arabic, like the church in which he was raised.
He became a worship leader in the church and founded the first-ever Christian rock band in Turkey, he said.
During his medical residency in Turkey, he heard about In His Image, a Christian family-practice residency program in Tulsa. He could not get the idea of attending the residency program out of his mind, he said.
In 2003, he and his family moved to the United States, worked for three years in Pittsburgh, and then came to Tulsa, where he went through the In His Image residency from 2006 to 2009. He now works as an attending physician at the residency, training upcoming family physicians.
Sakirgil's video sales business was sparked by a chance request from a pastor as he was leaving Turkey.
The pastor had made a movie and asked him to find a distributor for it when he got to the U.S.
He made numerous inquiries and found a distributor interested in the film.
He began to buy movies from that distributor and sell them on eBay, and then he branched out to other distributors.
His company, called Fishflix.com, now has four employees. It sold 115,000 videos last year, mostly to individuals, and expects to sell 150,000 this year.
When Sakirgil was looking for warehouse space for his expanding operation, he found a storefront at 91st Street and Sheridan Road and decided to open a retail store.
He bought fixtures from a closing Blockbuster store and stocked the shelves with more than 600 movies, including old Bible classics like "The Robe" and Charlton Heston's "The Ten Commandments," modern Christian films like the Narnia movies and Kirk Cameron movies, children's movies, documentaries, comedies, some church and Sunday School educational material and more.
He also sells films that are family friendly without a direct Christian message, like "Anne of Green Gables" and films made from novels written by Christians.
"These are movies that will inspire you to become a better person," he said.
"And you don't get the junk, the horror and the blood."
Sakirgil sells the movies at reduced prices and is considering installing a kiosk outside the store to offer rentals.
And he has not forgotten his homeland, which he said has 5,000 born-again Christians with a Muslim background, most of them in Istanbul.
He is working with a Turkish pastor to dub the Turkish language over the English in inspirational films and to distribute the films in Turkey.
"I really hope the Lord will use us for the gospel to spread in Turkey. That's our ministry heart," he said.
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
What: Christian and family movie sales
Where: 8988 S. Sheridan Road, Suite C
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays
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Visit Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.) at www.tulsaworld.com
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