It’s been almost 3 weeks since I returned from my trip to Turkey. My band stayed a little bit longer to tour the country with a recording artist from Turkey, of the band Storybox. They flew home just over a week ago. Tomorrow night we’ll be getting together for a de-brief of the whole adventure and I am eagerly anticipating hearing the stories of what I missed, as well as processing through what God did in us and through us while we were all together.
What’s so important to me and the whole team is to say THANK YOU to everyone who prayed for us and supported us. You need to know that in supporting us you were directly involved in real Kingdom activity and that lives and hearts were changed, and will be changed as God’s work continues through the seeds that were planted. We are looking forward to HEAR THE MUSIC NIGHT on May 2 at Vernon Alliance church, where we will be able to publicly thank you and tell more of our stories from this incredible trip. I expect there will be a few blogs from me in the near future related to Turkey - which is why I’ve titled this first one ‘Part 1’.
On week 1, we arrived in Turkey, overnighted in Istanbul and caught another flight to Antalya early the next morning. Now a popular tourist destination, ancient Antalya was probably founded around 150 BC and was originally known as Attalia. It was visited by Paul of Tarsus, as recorded in ACTS: "From Perga, Paul and Barnabas went down to Attalia and sailed from there to Antioch after preaching in Pisidia and Pamphylia" (Acts 14:25-26). Our first 2 days in Antalya we spent adjusting to jet-lag and trying to take in some of the history and sights before our conference started. This involved visiting the ancient ruins of Perge, historically known as Perga. This was significant since Perga was founded probably in 1000 BC and the Roman ruins that we saw there probably date back to about 188 BC.
Here is where my faith and my reality came crashing together in a life-changing way. At the ruins we walked the same Roman roads that St. Paul would have walked. We very likely stood where he would have preached his Message to the city inhabitants. I looked around at the hills and mountains, the same landscape that he would have seen as he arrived in the city, and I even had modern day merchants trying to sell their wares to me in the exact area where the traveling merchants would have set up shop 2000 years ago! All of a sudden - I could place myself in the Story. The Story of Faith. The story of the very beginnings of Christianity. There was no magical transcendent moment, but as I look back I can see in myself a true deepening of my faith. This was much more than a sight seeing trip to a very old city. It was a significant moment in my faith journey and I know I won’t be the same again.
Before writing this blog, I read 2 Corinthians 4. 18"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal". I feel like my experience of seeing these ruins enabled me in a new way to fix my eyes on what is unseen. Faith. And I was somehow more ‘sure of what I hope for, and more certain of what I do not see’. (Hebrews 11:1). The next day we were back at our hotel doing sound checks and preparing to lead worship for almost 1000 leaders and international workers and I was a different person than I was the day before. God was preparing me for a leadership opportunity that would change all of us even more. That will be ‘Part 2’.