I am truly grateful for your letting me share my trip to Istanbul and Ephesus with you via my blog. I wanted to end this travelogue with a recommendation for further reading. Mark Wilson has written a terrific book titled Biblical Turkey: A Guide to the Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor. Even if you’re unable to travel, this book will fill in a lot of the background needed for a proper understanding of the book of Acts and the New Testament epistles.
Wilson points out that the Turkey is a Bible land with many sites connected with both Old and New Testaments. After the church was scattered following the persecution of Acts 8 – and especially after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 – Turkey became the center of the expanding Christian movement.
According to Dr. Wilson, two-thirds of the 27 books of the New Testament were either written to or from Turkey (biblical Asia Minor).
I was surprised to learn that Syrian Antioch, where the believers were first called Christians in Acts 11:26, is not in Syria, but in Turkey.
And yet… Turkey is today the single greatest greatest unreached nation on earth. In its listing of countries with the lowest percentage of evangelicals, Operation World lists Turkey as Number 1. The Ottomans made sure that Turkey was the guardian of all things Isalm. When Turkey became officially secular in the 1920s, it became a land torn between secular Europe and Islamic Middle East. It’s pulled in two directions, but both of them are hostile toward believers.
I haven’t blogged at all about the conference I attended with church planters, for we literally met in an underground room with a sealed door. I don’t want to violate anyone’s safety, so I’m just keeping quiet about the meetings. Persecution and hostility are on the rise. But the Lord is clearly making inroads into restrictive nations and He has some very innovative and courageous workers. I long for the day when church planters in Turkey will have greater freedom and success. I was impressed with the outspoken boldness of those whom I met.
In the meantime, one day I’d love to lead a “Footsteps of Paul Tour” of Turkey (with the Island of Patmos thrown in for good measure). I’m not sure we’ll be able to do that, but let me know if you’re interested or stay tuned to this website for more information. In the meantime here are some final pictures.