During our outreach in July 1995, travelling through Turkey, I experienced Turkey like no other place before. The manifold contrasts between modern and ancient, and the constant impact of the colors, sounds, smells and tastes makes it one of the most intriguing places on earth.
Turkey has long served as a crossroads for many ancient peoples. At one stage these famed trade routes featured continuous caravans carrying silk from China and spices from India. The trade routes also served as conduits to carry messages about gods and goddesses from one place to another.
Many of the traders frequenting these trade routes decided to stay and as a result Anatolia became the homeland to many ancient civilizations including the Hatti, Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Greeks, Seljuks, Ottomans and Byzantines. It is on top of these successive layers of civilization that the Turkish people now live.
Turkey is also the lost land of the Bible and home to some of the most significant events described in the Old and New Testaments. We know that Noah and his family settled in the region of Ararat after the flood and that his descendants lived in Anatolia. After migrating from the city of Ur, Abraham and his family settled in the south eastern part of Turkey in Harran. Jacob lived fourteen years in the region of Harran. Anatolia was the primary center of the New Testament church and almost two-thirds of the New Testament was written to or from churches in Turkey.
Christianity remained the official religion of the Anatolian lands under Byzantine control until the Turks completed their conquest with the capture of the city of Constantinople in A.D 1453. Since then, Turkey remains the largest unreached nation in the world.
Walking in the streets of Antakya (Antioch), visiting the ruins of Laodicea, walking between the excavated buildings of Ephesus, meeting Turkish people and distributing Bibles made a lasting impression on my mind and I had a strong sense that I would return to this lost land of the Bible.
But now it was time to return to Magda and the family.