On Wednesday we spent five hours at the Ephesus site. It was a leisurely walk from the south gate to the north gate; oh, besides losing two of our group for a little bit! We saw many of the sites that showed Roman Imperial power, with statues, gates and buildings. When Paul was writing he was speaking to this reality. Tom did a Bible study at the 6th century basilica of the Virgin Mary. He read and commented on the account from the book of Acts. Following this, we sang two verses of “Lord, I want to be a Christian.” Lois Siemens then read the passage from the book of Revelation “to the angel at Ephesus.”
In the afternoon, we had a cultural experience at a carpet co-op. The guide who showed us around was very good, and his workers snapped the many carpets at our feet. We had apple tea, Turkish coffee and raki to soften our hearts and wallets. The carpets were made from a variety of materials including cotton, silk and wool and were breathtaking.
On Thursday we visited one of the oldest sites of archeology in all the world. On the same piece of ground, the site of Troy has nine civilizations that have been excavated. It goes back to the era of the Hittites, over 4000 years ago. Wow!
On Friday we traveled to the monuments of the Gallipoli war campaign. The battles took place in 1915 and 1916, and had much horror connected to them. The Turks defeated the Australian and New Zealand forces during these battles, and it led eventually to the formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923 following the end of WW I.
Yesterday afternoon, we said goodbye to our wonderful Turkish guide, Erkal, and bus driver, Mahmet the Magnificent, as we left Turkey and entered Greece to explore the next part of Paul’s journey. If you want to follow in your Bibles, look in Acts 16, where it says “he left Troy and went to Samothrace….” We are following this journey for the next five days.
Today is another fine day on our exploration of the world of Paul. We saw a new mosaic in the town of Kavala of Paul the Apostle, highlighting that he was the first convert to enter European soil. After this we explored the ancient site of Philippi, where we looked at two ancient church sites from the 6th century, and the traditional site where Paul and Silas had been imprisoned. We took about three hours to tour the place where Paul had been.
After a short drive, we visited the site where the conversion of Lydia is observed. Tom read the text of Lydia’s baptism, and had a short devotional on the text. One of the songs we sang was, “Have you not Heard of that Beautiful Stream.”
We arrived in Thessaloniki just a few minutes ago, after a visit to the Church of St. Demetrius. This church has played an important role in the theology of the Orthodox Church and history of the city.
As you read this you can see we had another busy day. At times it may seem that we are running in the footsteps of Paul.
Shalom and strength for the journey of faith and life.
~ Fred Redekop