Page 1

in the footsteps of Paul & Churches of Revelation

Sept. 23–Oct. 4, 2011


THE FOOTSTEPS OF PAUL The missionary journeys

FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY

SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEY

THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY

THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION

Maps courtesy of The Bible Study Web site at www.BibleStudy.org. Photo on front cover: Roman road in Laodicea

On September 23, 2011, 31 members of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem embarked on a 12-day pilgrimage to Turkey to follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys and to visit the sites of the seven churches of Revelation. Along the way they discovered a land rich in historical and geographical wonders. They discovered friendly and hospitable people. Most importantly, they gained an appreciation for the arduous journey Paul took by boat and on foot to spread the Good News to the people who lived across the Mediterranean Sea and they developed a greater understanding of Paul’s teachings and letters in the Bible. 1 | First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem


In the Fall of 2011, I had the privilege to travel with members of First Presbyterian Church Bethlehem in the Footsteps of Paul and to the Churches of Revelation. I grew up traveling. My parents gave me both roots (a homing instinct) and wings (a desire to see God’s world). As a child, every summer our family sojourned somewhere. We drove, usually, pulling a white and orange Apache pop-up trailer behind us. I have stayed at KOAs all across America. I was bored often, yelled “Are we there yet?” enough to drive my parents crazy, and yet, sometime during every journey, an amazing phenomenon occurred. I began to

see with fresh eyes. My senses became like sponges, fully imbibing in the richness of novel environments and the aura of original faces. I would begin to process my surroundings, reveling in the newness. All was alive and infused with God’s presence. The ensuing pages are filled with the reflections of fellow pilgrims who came alive during our journey in Turkey. “We travel not to elude reality, but to prevent reality from eluding us,” Bruce Northam writes. It is extremely difficult to stay in a rut on the pilgrim road. You return home a new creation, a different person. May these reflections from the journey of a ragged band of Turkey Trekkers inform and inspire your own journey of faith. In Christ’s Service Together, Pastor Alf

SCRIPTURES FOR REFLECTION September 23–24

September 29

Acts 9:1–20 (Paul’s conversion) Matthew 28:16–20 (Great Commission)

Revelation 3:7–13 (Philadelphia) Revelation 3:1–6 (Sardis)

September 25

September 30

1 Peter 1:1 (Peter addresses Christians in Galatia) Romans 5:1–5 James 1:2–4 Matt 5:10–12 (Tribulations/suffering) Book of Galatians

Acts 19 Acts 20:17–38 (Paul speaks) Book of Ephesians 2 Timothy 1:16–18 (Paul praises) 1 Timothy 1:1–5 Revelation 2:1–7

September 26 Acts 13:13–52 (Paul’s first recorded sermon, Pisidian Antioch) Acts 14:8–20 (Paul speaks of Zeus & Hermes in Lystra and Derbe) 2 Timothy 3:10–17 (Paul wrote to Timothy about his persecutions in Pisidian Antioch area)

September 27 Acts 13:13–14 (Perga) Acts 14:21–25 (Lyconia Region) Acts 14:25–28 (Attalia/Antalya)

September 28

October 1 Revelation 2:8–11 (Smyrna/Izmir) Acts 16:14 Revelation 2:18–29 (Thyatira) Revelation 2:12–17 (Pergamum)

October 2 Acts 20:5–6, 13–14 (Assos) Acts 20:6–12 (Troas) Acts 16:6–10 (Paul’s vision)

Colossians 2:1 (Laodicea) Colossians 4:12–17 Book of Colossians Revelation 3:14–22 (Laodicea) In the Footsteps of Paul | 2


SEPTEMBER 23–24

SEPTEMBER 25

Amid overcast skies and a light rain, on Friday, September 23, thirty-one First Presbyterian Church Pilgrims board a bus for JFK airport and the flight to Turkey. Despite the ornery weather, our Transbridge bus driver, Mark, deposits us at JFK in two hours flat!

On day three of our Turkey pilgrimage, following the Steps of Paul and the Churches of Revelation, our energy and enthusiasm are back as we begin a day trip to sites in Cappadocia (Ancient Galatia.) Praise the Lord!

Following our nine-hour flight to Istanbul, we immediately re-embark for a short flight to Ankara and the beginning of the second day of our pilgrimage. After arriving in Ankara, Turkey’s capital city of four million people, we board our bus for an excursion to the Anatolia Archaeological Museum.

As Paul might say today: “To the church of God which is at Bethlehem in Pennsylvania: Grace be to you and peace from the Turkey Trekkers.”

Anatolia, the Graeco/Roman name for Asia Minor, comprises most of the Republic of Turkey’s lands. We view and learn about artifacts from the early Anatolian peoples for about two hours before re-boarding our bus for the four-and-a-half hour ride to the Dinler Hotel in Nebsehir. Many of us are fading now, having been on the go for almost two days without a break. —Jim Largay

Wall sculptures of chariots and archers at the Anatolia Archaelogical Museum

Turkey—a country of great history and diversity. Over 11,000 years of history inhabits this Asia Minor area. Turkey—A population of 70,000,000 and about the same area as the state of Texas. Ninety-eight percent of the population is Muslim. Their heritage is Asian Muslim, primarily from north China and Mongolia, and they do not have the same Muslim fundamentalism as Arab Muslims. Turkey became a democratic republic in 1923, one of the few democracies of the Muslim world. Diversity comes in its geography and history. Rich in agriculture, Turkey raises 100% of its food. Parts of the country look like Kansas. They also have a great salt lake, called Tuz Lake, which is not only larger than the one we know in Utah but is one of the largest in the world. Today we are in the Cappadocia region (aka Galatia). The Cappadocia area was a stronghold of the ancient Hittites, then later of the Romans and then early Christians, whom Peter addressed (1 Peter 1:1). The Goreme Valley in this area is filled with a soft tufta stone. Over millions of years, the soft stone has eroded, resulting in strange-looking “fairy chimneys” of towers, spires and cone formations, reminding some of a lunar landscape. There are over 200 underground cities that have been carved into this landscape. We visit one at Derenkuyu where Christians lived to avoid the Roman persecutions, which occurred about 300 AD. We learn a lot from Alf and our five-star guide, Ms. Dilek Yarcan. We learn that Paul worked hard to

3 | First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem


know and understand the people here—Romans, Greeks and Jews—both before and during his three “treks” to Turkey. We also learn about suffering from Alf's teaching on Paul in Romans 5:3–5, “We also exalt in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings perseverance, and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint.” This region has 365 churches cut out of rock! We visit a church today at the site of an ancient and historic monastery—a monastery that produced three “pillars” of the church: Gregory of Myssa, Gregory of Nazianus, and Basel. These “Cappadocian Fathers” had a profound influence on the Christian church by developing the biblically faithful language of the Trinity, and establishing that Jesus was fully God and fully human. All three influenced the councils of Chalcedon, Nicea, and Constantinople and the resultant Christian creeds. Have you ever heard of the Whirling Dervish? Ask some 21 of our trekkers who witnessed this ritual symbolizing, in seven parts, the different meanings of a mystic cycle of perfection! Sound mystical? We close today with a quote from Jeremiah: “Ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your soul.” —Dave Post

FROM THE TOP: Cave dwellings; Fairy Chimneys; Cave church carved out of rock; The Whirling Dervishes

Photo courtesy of ktersakian.com


Balloons soar above the Cappadocian landscape at sunrise

SEPTEMBER 26 5:15 a.m. comes mighty early today for those of us who elected to take a hot-air balloon ride over the Goreme Valley, but what a glorious morning awaits us! The day is crystal clear with no wind, as 20 souls climb into our basket underneath the huge canopy that is being inflated above us. Suddenly we are off! Soaring above many of the sights we saw yesterday, including the contemplative cells—chapels cut out of rocks— and the soaring fairy chimneys. But the best is yet to come as the sun crests the mountains, and we climb up to meet it. The valley is bathed in color, and what you hear in the otherwise silence of the sky is our cameras snapping, punctuated by our “oohs and aahs” and the whooshing noise of the flame-fed hot air shooting up into the balloon. There must be at least 50 other colorful balloons soaring with us, taking in all of God’s majesty and creation. 5 | First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem

The balloon ride behind us, this becomes our longest day of driving. The whole day is spent on the bus as we travel westward along the route that Paul took during each of his three missionary journeys. Through the bus windows we see fields and fields of sugar beets, wheat that has been harvested, potatoes, melons, and various types of squash. Our guide, Dilek, is a great teacher! We learn that Turkey has the 17th fastest growing economy in the world, and that its three main sources of income are agriculture (many families are totally self-sufficient with cottage industries), textiles (carpets and towels), and tourism (we are helping to fill their coffers!). As we travel along the Silk Road that Marco Polo took, we learn the history of Turkey under the 600 relatively peaceful years of the Ottoman-Turkish Empire, and


Ancient Roman chariot road and remains of Roman shops (Ephesus)

how it collapsed in the early 1900’s from outside countries provoking the individual ethnic groups to want independence. We also learn how Ataturk signed the treaty to end the war, and how he modernized the country. Since there were no first-century ruins to see at Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium (modern Konya, now the biggest city in central Turkey, very traditional and conservative, with a population of two million people), we press on to our goal of Pisidian Antioch, an ancient crossroads city in the middle of the Taurus Mountains where Paul preached his first recorded sermon. There we are able to walk along the old chariot-rutted roads, looking at remains of old columns and skeletons of old Roman shops, marveling at the size of the town and the now-still landscape. In the ruins of the main church, Pastor Alf reads Paul’s sermon from Acts 13, and we sing three hymns accompanied by Shari on her

five-string guitar (one string snapped at the beginning of our trip). The third century AD was the golden age for this Roman city, and today a new city called Yauwach (its name means messenger) is on the outskirts of Pisidian Antioch. It seems almost prophetic that this new city was named for Paul! If we thought this was a long bus ride to get to our objective, all we have to do is think of Paul traversing the mountains and bush on foot to get to the same place our air-conditioned bus brought us—and that puts everything in perspective! At 8:30 p.m. we reach our hotel in the town of Sparta, have dinner, and literally fall into bed. What a great day! —Kit and John Cotton

In the Footsteps of Paul | 6


SEPTEMBER 27 As we ride the bus from Isparta to Antalya, on the Mediterranean, Loey Post offers our morning devotions by summarizing Paul’s sufferings while serving Christ by spreading the word to the people of Asia Minor. We are inspired by his commitment as we hear about his travails. The beautiful Taurus Mountains along our route look like a cross between the Adirondack and Rocky Mountains in the U.S. Our first stop is the Roman ruins of Perga, a city built much earlier by the Greeks. It is near the area where Paul began his first missionary journey. As we walk within the stadium ruins (originally built for 12,000 spectators), Pastor Alf describes how Paul communicated with the citizens, meeting with Jews, Greeks,and Romans. He challenged them (and us) to lead our lives with the dedication of athletes training for an important contest, and to follow through with our commitment, giving Christ our best. We

contemplate who has cheered for us when we undertook a challenge. Furthermore, for whom have we cheered as our family and friends attempted to tackle difficult tasks? Next, we drive to the ancient Roman theater and aqueduct at Aspendos, built in the second century after Christ. The theater is the most well-preserved piece of Roman architecture in Asia Minor. We listen to Kit and John Cotton sing “Amazing Grace” and “Side by Side,” taking in the marvelous acoustics. We think about how Paul would address the intellectual Greeks of the day, asking them to consider that God is more than they can create—in fact, He created man and woman. Late in the afternoon, we arrive at the Porto Bello Hotel in Antalya on the Mediterranean Sea. As we enter the warm, salty waters of the Mediterranean, some of us are knocked over by rolling waves.

Second century Roman amphitheater at Aspendos

7 | First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem


After dinner, we meet with local residents as well as citizens from the U.S. who live a life of love and compassion as they work with persons of special needs, students and friends. Residents recognize that these individuals have in their hearts the best interests of the Turkish people.

farmer unearthed heads of Roman statues while plowing his field. This ancient major industrial city is just patiently waiting for someone to have enough interest and enough money to invest in having it archaeologically excavated. As we look at the hill wondering what treasures it holds, Alf talks about Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

—Chips Arend

SEPTEMBER 28 Today we travel through the Meander River Valley to visit three cities: Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis, which were all destroyed by an earthquake in 60 AD. These were important cities because they were at crossroads and were surrounded by fertile ground through which a river ran. Our first stop is Colossae, known for its purple-dyed wool, which is now only a large mound of earth under which lies the ruins of the city. It was first discovered in the 1800’s when a

Laodicea, site of one of the Churches of Revelation, was known for its black wool and Phrygian powder used to make eye ointment medication, and it was also a banking center. From Laodicea we can see Colossae and Hierapolis. After the earthquake, Rome offered the city money to help it rebuild, but because the citizens thought they were self sufficient, they turned down the offer. However, the city had no water, so it had to use aqueducts from both Colossae for cold water and Hierapolis for hot. When Apostle John was imprisoned on Patmos Island, he wrote a scathing

Excavations and ruins at Laodicea

In the Footsteps of Paul | 8


CAPPADOCIAN LANDSCAPE

FAIRY CHIMNEYS

CHURCH CARVED INTO FAIRY CHIMNEY

MOSAIC OF JESUS IN THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SAVIOR IN CHORA

DOLMABAHCE PALACE

CELSUS LIBRARY


BLUE MOSQUE, ISTANBUL SPICE BAZAAR

OLD FORT NEAR THE DARDANELLES STRAIT

FORTRESS OF EUROPE (ON THE EUROPEAN SIDE OF THE BOSPHORUS) BUILT IN 1452 BY MEHMET THE CONQUEROR


Thermal pool and mineral deposits at Hierapolis

letter to this city of corruption saying that he would rather spit out the tepid water of the Colossians than abide their sinfulness. The city took heed and started to reform.

We go back to our hotel where underneath are thermal pools. While some of us put our feet in the murky water, only a few have the courage to go swimming and have the soothing waters massage their muscles!

Large-scale excavations, with many archaeologists and enormous cranes, are underway in this city. We are able to walk across a plexiglass floor, looking down at the ancient ruins discovered below. Right next to the unearthing of a huge temple dedicated to the Roman gods, a small Christian chapel built in 430 AD was discovered. It was here that Alf gave another lesson on Revelation 3:14–22. Being there and listening to Alf really helps us to understand this passage in a difficult book.

—Kit Cotton & Brad Chamberlain

Hierapolis is quite a contrast to the other cities! There are active thermal pools with mineral deposits, and several of us walk in their warm waters. Others walk with our guide, Dilek, along the entire length of the major street where the agora (marketplace) used to be. We see a public Roman latrine and ancient sarcophagi in various states of disrepair—huge mausoleums, as well as smaller broken-open tombs. It has been an educational day. I thank God for days like today.

11 | First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem

SEPTEMBER 29 This day begins with a cacophony of birds in the trees outside our window. Once on the bus, our morning devotion includes prayers for those back home who need guiding hands and healing. Thirty-one travelers set out on the country roads, weaving through the lush farmland of cotton, vegetables and orchards of the fertile Meander River Valley. “Meander” meaning, like a river, flowing toward your goals but not following your ego; follow God’s will and, with the many curves meandering, you will find your way. Our Turkish guide gives us this symbolism of the rich heritage of the many peoples who have settled, conquered and flourished here. Then, in the path of Paul, from Hierapolis, west to Philadelphia and the Saint Jean Church (named for St. John), 6th century AD, we arrive at Sardis. In the


FROM THE TOP: St. Jean Church; Synagogue, c. 250 AD; Imperial Hall; architectural details at Imperial Hall

beautiful ruins of the 250 AD synagogue, Imperial Hall, and the gymnasium, we see beautiful evidence of past peoples who created Sardis. Gathering on the curved, sculpted altar area, we travelers sing “Breathe on me, Breath of God,” led by Shari Halvorson. A group from Italy join their voices to ours, lifting these simple, but heartfelt, words together. Alf speaks of the biblical messages from Jesus given to the churches in Philadelphia (Revelations 3:7–13). We know that the people there had kept well to the way of God, but to Sardis, in Revelation 3:1–6, Jesus admonishes them to “Wake Up”, restoring them to their faith. Do not be lost! The journey we are taking is awakening in us a rich awareness of Paul. Learning historical facts helps biblical understanding flow each day. The words of our song today are also in a traditional Sufi saying that I learned yesterday. The Turkish saying is “The ways to God are as many as the breaths of human beings.” Breathe His name, with and for us. —Kurt Flammer

InInthe theFootsteps FootstepsofofPaul Paul| |12 9


SEPTEMBER 30 We start out early today for our visit to the ancient city of Ephesus, which was a major port city on the Aegean Sea in the time of Alexander the Great. It was the crossroads of the north-south and east-west trade routes in Asia Minor, and also the center of politics and religion. Later, it was the largest and most important city of the Roman Empire in Asia Minor. Christianity was spreading rapidly across the area while Paul lived in Ephesus during his third journey. He preached daily in the lecture hall of the School of Tyrannus on the main road leading from the harbor to the heart of Ephesus. One of the day’s highlights is seeing the beautifullyrestored Celsus Library, the third largest in the world at that time. Another highlight is sitting in the 25,000-seat Grand Theater listening to Pastor Alf read from Acts 19 and Revelations 2, and hearing his reflections on these

RIGHT FROM THE TOP: Church of Mary; The Church of St. John; Grand Theater FAR RIGHT: Celsus Library

13 | First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem

verses. In the background, while Pastor Alf speaks to us, we hear a college-aged group sing “Nearer My God to Thee” in an adjacent part of the theater. Then, when we begin singing “Holy, Holy, Holy,” the college students, from Brigham Young University Idaho, and their chaperones come and join us. We become one big chorus, directed by two college students and our John Cotton, singing “How Great Thou Art.” Everyone in the Grand Theater is clapping! What a spontaneous and powerful message for all present to hear! A more solemn time is our visit to The Church of John, where it is believed he is buried. John was a thinker and a writer, and Paul was more a people person, preaching wherever he went. Each shared the Good News in their own way, resulting in the spread of Christianity throughout the world. (Acts 19, Ephesians, and Revelations 2:1–7). —Ann Terres


OCTOBER 1 As we bid farewell to the beautiful archaeological remains of Ephesus, our journey continues north along the Aegean Sea. Following the locations and excavated ruins of the seven churches of Revelation, our destination today is Pergamum. En route, we pass by Izmir, formerly Smyrna, founded around 1,000 BC. Its distinction lies in having built the first temple to a Roman god in Asia Minor. Alf's message from Revelation 2:8–11 raised the question of whose opinion matters most—God’s, or the multiple idol distractions around us. The next city we visit is Thyatira, dating from the sixth century BC. Here the Romans established their military garrisons. Because of the multiple provisions they would need, merchant guilds, or trade unions, of various craftsmen were formed. Best remembered is Lydia, known for her purple linens and her association with Paul. The warning in Rev. 2:18–29 from St. John was to set a positive model in your workplace, doing everything for the glory of God.

Our final site is the Asklepion Health Center of Pergamum. This hospital was named after Asklepios, the god of health and life. Here the priest/physician cared for the wealthy, offering both spa-like comforts and health remedies. The remains have several pools, tunnels, a running track and a sophisticated theater. Alf shares the words from Rev. 2:12–17 asking us to ponder why we are so adamant about ignoring good advice and truth from others. We close by singing “He Knows my Name,” led by Shari Halvorson. —Betsy Laylon TOP: View of a Hellenistic theater from the cable car in Pergamum BOTTOM: The symbol of Asklepios, god of medicine—the snakes are still used as symbols for medicine today.

After lunch, our restaurant owner’s cat decides to board our bus. After he retrieves his prized possession, he expresses his gratitude by serenading us with two Turkish songs. Early afternoon finds us entering Pergamum (323 BC). Under the rule of Alexander the Great, it became a major metropolis and capital city. Four distinctions of Pergamum at the time: a major medical center, the second largest library in the world (200,000 books), and, where parchment paper was invented, an artistic center and a gladiator school! We visit two ancient sites. The first is the Acropolis, which commands a view of the valley from a high plateau. To reach it, we take a 600-foot-high cable car ride to the top where we are white-knuckled due to the gusty winds. Here the wealthy king’s men and Roman generals built their homes. Other ruins include the library, the Temple of Athena and the crowning temple dedicated to Trajan, the Roman emperor. We are also able to view the lower temple of Zeus and a Hellenistic theater. In the Footsteps of Paul | 14


OCTOBER 2 After being awakened by a muezzin singing from his minaret in the early-morning hours, we depart from the Halic Park Hotel in Ayvalik on the scenic Aegean shore. We travel north along a quiet, back country road toward Assos. This is one of the least-traveled roads and is only one lane wide at times. Along the route, scenes of the Aegean coast and groves of olive trees present themselves at every turn. A highlight of the drive is the Roman road which parallels the auto route. It was on that very road where Paul trekked his patient way after leaving Ephesus to answer his call to proclaim the Good News of Christ in Macedonia (present-day Greece). We are able to get out and walk along the well-worn cobblestones that Paul had trod. Our continued travels take us through the town of Assos, established by the Greeks about 1,000 BC, where Aristotle taught for a number of years. Continuing on past Assos, we follow Paul’s journey and come to the port city of Alexandrian Troas. It was from this port that Paul left Asia Minor by ship to start his ministry in Macedonia. In spite of a very strong wind blowing in from the sea, we are able to walk along the shore where Paul walked, and we celebrate communion together. It was a truly meaningful experience led by Pastor Alf. As we leave the rocky shore, each of us picks up a stone to remember the moment, and to remember Paul and his arduous journeys. During our long bus rides, our guide, Dilek, tells us about Turkish traditions. Today, she tells us about Hama Day, which is a party just for women celebrated several days before a wedding. This tradition is a “bonding time” for women and helps take the stress out of the bride. The names of the bride’s unmarried girlfriends are written on the bottom of the bride’s shoes, and if the names are worn off after an evening of dancing, that means that the girls will soon marry. (Dilek “danced off” all her single girlfriends’ names when she celebrated her Hama Day!) In the afternoon, Dilek leads us on a tour of Troy, a site where nine different civilizations came and went. Troia (the old name) existed from 3,000 BC to 500 AD, and had nine different levels, each one from a different 15 | First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem

civilization. The houses back then were made from mud bricks (strengthened by straw) and collapsed easily. The Trojan kingdom was very wealthy as they taxed the ships from Greece which passed through the narrow straits of the Dardanelles. In its day, Troia was a port, but now the former harbor has been silted in, and Troy is now landlocked. The Trojan War, which lasted ten years and was recounted by Homer in the Illiad, occurred here in about 1300–1200 BC. We are able to climb up into a facsimile of the massive Trojan horse, although there is some doubt now as to whether or not the story is true. Our day ends at the town of Canakkale at our very modern hotel overlooking the Dardanelles Strait. —John and Kathy Chen and Kit Cotton

TOP: The pilgrims on the shores of the Aegean Sea sharing communion. BOTTOM: View of the Dardanelles Strait.


OCTOBER 3 When we board the 8 a.m. ferry to cross the Dardanelles Strait to the Gallipoli peninsula in Europe, we sadly bid farewell to the footsteps of Paul, and to Asia Minor (Anatolia—Land of Sunshine). That our travels to this point covered close to 1,500 miles under infinitely better conditions than Paul experienced, gives us greater appreciation of the thousands of miles covered by Paul’s three missionary journeys. Gallipoli was the site of one of the many tragedies in the First World War, a fact brought out not only by our daily devotion, but other fine presentations by our outstanding guide, Dilek, and our beloved Pastor Alf. Viewed by most of us in the west as a disaster, the Gallipoli Battle was a clear victory for the Turks. In the longer run, Gallipoli contributed to the rise of Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey. This helped set the stage for Turkish independence (1923) and Turkey’s modern democratic republic. Our bus ride into Istanbul takes five to six hours. When we arrived in the city, we stop at the Topkapi Palace, headquarters of the Ottoman sultans for hundreds of years. Now a museum, the palace features exhibits of exquisite pieces of silver and gold, including large, precious stones in beautiful settings. The pièce de résistance is an 80-carat diamond surrounded by numerous other diamonds, smaller than the centerpiece, but very large by most people’s standards. Other exhibits include finely-crafted swords, jeweled daggers and firearms, beautiful tiled walls and the sultan’s elaborate meeting room. Our day concludes with a sit-down dinner at the Hotel Crystal in downtown Istanbul. —Jim Largay

FIRST THREE FROM THE TOP: Topkapi Palace, headquarters of the Ottoman sultans; Details of entryways at Topkapi Palace BOTTOM: Well-preserved Roman aqueduct in Istanbul.


OCTOBER 4 Leaving behind the steps of Paul, we begin our last touring day in Istanbul with a visit to the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, which contains some of the finest Byzantine mosaics and frescoes. “In chora” means “in the country,” and though little is known about its early history, the present church dates from the 11th century. The mosaics and frescoes were added from 1315–1321 by Theodore Metochites, a theologian and philosopher, during a remodeling of the church. Mosaics in two of the domes portray Christ and his ancestors and his ministry. Seeing this marvelous artwork is a bonus, since this stop was added to our itinerary at the request of some of our group. Once back on the bus we head to the Spice Bazaar, whose name was an inadequate description. As we stroll through the crowded bazaar, we see an endless variety of things, including spices, candies, 18K-gold jewelry, sponges, caviar, nuts, colorful plates and dishes and so much more, all in huge quantities. After a lunch of snacks while resting on park benches outside the bazaar, we head for the dock where we board an excursion boat for a scenic cruise on the Bosphorus Strait which connects the Marmara and Black Seas. As we leave port, we take in a view of the city, including the Suleymaniye Mosque. Cruising under cloudless skies, we marvel at the Fortress of Europe, built by Mehmet II in 1452 prior to his invasion of Constantinople and the grand Dolmabahce Palace, built in the 19th century. Fishermen adorn town docks as we glide by.

RIGHT: Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora; FAR RIGHT: one of many mosaics inside the church

17 | First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem

Upon disembarking, we walk to the magnificent Blue Mosque, built by the Sultan Ahmet in the early 17th century. It was named for the thousands of blue tiles on the interior walls and domes. Now a main tourist attraction, it is a working mosque with areas set aside for worshipers. The massive columns and domes are breathtakingly covered with Arabic geometric designs, all bathed in light from a myriad of stained-glass windows. After a brief rest outside, we walk to the Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya in Turkish). Completed in 537 AD, it became the central church of Christendom and the major inspiration for the builders of the mosques of Islam. The huge central dome, 106 feet in diameter, is supported by two half domes. We walk (more like climb) up a cobblestone ramp to the upper gallery, where we see the stunning mosaic of Christ with Emperor Constantine IX and another mosaic of Mary holding baby Jesus with Emperor John II Comnenus. The Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1453, but the Christian mosaics were allowed to remain. Today, the Hagia Sophia is no longer a mosque but continues as a museum. Before leaving for our hotel, we wander around in the Grand Bazaar, which is much bigger and has even more “stuff” than the Spice Bazaar! We return to our hotel for dinner and final packing for our trip home the next day. —Jack Terres


FAR LEFT: Exterior of the Hagia Sophia LEFT: Now a museum, the Hagia Sophia was first a church and then a mosque. Note the figure of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus (center) flanked by Islamic symbols.

OCTOBER 5 HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR PILGRIMAGE As Paul might have said in his day: “Greetings to the faithful of the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.” This is the last night of our pilgrimage following the Footsteps of Paul, and we thought it would be useful to record highlights about Paul and the Seven Churches of Revelations. What follows are some of the thoughts and experiences of the pilgrims: We traced many places that Paul traveled during his missionary trips. Crossing the Toros Mountains, we began to realize how difficult it must have been for Paul. His deep conviction of his call to spread the Gospel caused him to walk thousands of miles to spread the Good News, establish churches, care for believers, and write the Epistles. This helped us put things in perspective when we tired of riding 1,500 miles in our air-conditioned bus! In the Cappadocia region, it was amazing to see the underground caves and cities where early Christians had to live and practice their faith in Jesus Christ in order to avoid persecution. All of the sites were impressive, but Ephesus was outstanding, especially with the chorus of angels (BYU-Idaho students). Singing with the Idaho Brigham Young University students in the Grand Theater.

Viewing the mountains reminds me of the 121st Psalm, sung by the Jews as they were ascending into Jerusalem for their High Holy Days. “I lift up my eyes unto the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Alf's interpretation of Scripture relevant to the location. Regarding the churches of Revelation, no earthly structure lasts forever. Revelation 3:14–22 Walking along the Roman road from Assos to Alexandria Troas beside the Aegean Sea. Having communion on the shores of Alexandria Troas. While sitting on the rugged seashore at Alexandria Troas, Alf told the story of Paul’s call to Macedonia. As I watched the high, wind-whipped waves lash the shore, I could only imagine in a small way the passion and commitment that Paul had to continue the difficult journey of bringing Christ’s message to the Macedonians (Europeans). This pilgrimage, which now seems too short, was sometimes arduous, most enlightening religiously, and interesting historically. It was enjoyable getting to know our fellow pilgrims and our Turkish guide, and the trip was exceedingly well run.

Seeing the Ephesus library and John’s burial site. Seeing the double church of the Virgin Mary.

In the Footsteps of Paul | 18


Walking in the footsteps of Paul… Becki Angione Chips & Ann Arend Brad Chamberlain Sam Chamberlain, Jr John & Kathy Chen John & Kit Cotton Norma Ferguson

Kurt & Deborah Flammer Louise French Russ Grander Alf & Shari Halvorson Jim & Betty Largay Betsy Laylon Dave & Loey Post

Jerry & Sally Roe Arlene Shelly Ann Marie Sledz Vince and Evelyn Stravino Jack & Ann Terres Ted White Sally Wily

DESIGN: Jill Hantz EDITING: Ann Terres Kit Cotton Jill Hantz Rita Neuhauser PHOTOGRAPHY: Jack & Ann Terres

Copyright © 2012 First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017 | www.fpc-bethlehem.org

In the Footsteps of Paul  

Pilgrimage to Turkey following the journey of the apostle Paul and visiting the sites of the seven churches of Revelation

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you