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Monday, April 27, 2009

The 7 Churches of the Revelation: Smyrna

Last night we arrived in Turkey for the International Pastors' Conference. Immanuel belongs to the Association of International Churches in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. (AICEMEA). It is a rich and lovely community that we have enjoyed since we began our ministry in Sweden. One of the great gifts is the annual Pastors and Spouses conference. We move from region to region and enjoy getting to know what's happening in other International Churches. We also take in a great deal of the local flavor and the flavor this time around in Turkey will be amazing. We begin in western Turkey, the area known as Asia Minor in the New Testament with a look at the 7 churches that the apostle John wrote letters to in the book of Revelation. So I invite you to join our journey and learn with us about this fascinating country where so much New Testament Biblical history resides.
Read Revelation 2:8-11
The region known as Asia Minor in scripture is modern day Turkey. Last night we flew into Izmir which is a sprawling metropolis. Izmir used to be known as Smyrna but the name Smyrna no longer exists. While there are no remaining ruins from the time that the early church existed, tomorrow we will drive to a hill top and see the Stadium where Polycarp was Martyred. It is truly thrilling to be able to visit these ancient Biblical sites and consider the deep meaning behind some of the imagery that is fleshed out when you come to understand the region.
Today was a day of new smells, different sights, and a shift from quiet, staid Stockholm to chaotic, noisy, in your face Turkey! It was wonderful. Food stalls on the street, vendors selling every imaginable good, and people talking, talking, talking to you, working hard to coax you into their shop so that they can sell you a Turkish treasure.
Izmir is on the Aegean Sea is really an urban sprawl. Mountains surround you and buildings rise up all around. We walked through the market place and strolled along the sea front. We had kebabs for lunch (very tasty) and drank Turkish beer and sour cherry juice. All tasty treats that leave you asking for more. We also indulged in a piece of lemon Turkish delight that was delightful indeed. I am excited about being here. This is my 3rd time in Turkey and I've enjoyed every visit thus far. I anticipate the same will be true for this trip.