Briercrest study tour returns from following Paulís journeys in Turkey and Greece
It was a trip that changed the way they read Scripture.
Last month 30 people returned from a Briercrest study tour that retraced the Apostle Paul‚Äôs journeys in Greece and Turkey. Seeing these biblical landmarks up close deeply impacted the group along with their tour hosts, David Miller (associate professor of New Testament and early Judaism) and Kevin Daugherty (assistant professor of theology).
‚ÄúI had never seen these things firsthand,‚ÄĚ Daugherty explained. ‚ÄúThe sense of what a city in the New Testament age would look like ‚Äď it‚Äôs really hard to put into words the way it changes the way you read Scripture. You get a better sense of what life was like, what travel was like, what the public life was like. For me, probably one of the ‚Äėaha moments‚Äô was I didn‚Äôt realize how mountainous Turkey and Greece are.‚ÄĚ
The presence of mountains added a whole new appreciation for the trek the apostle Paul made on these journeys.
‚ÄúYou land in a port and look up, and you see snow caps all around ‚Äď there‚Äôs a whole mountain range (Paul) had to cross to get inland,‚ÄĚ Miller exclaimed.
The hilly terrain also meant quite a bit of walking for the tour group as well.
‚ÄúAny time you go to any of these cities you‚Äôre in for quite a climb,‚ÄĚ Daugherty said. ‚ÄúThey built their cities on higher places most of the time.‚ÄĚ
The tour participants were up for the challenge.
‚ÄúThe group had a great spirit,‚ÄĚ Daugherty added. ‚Äú(There was a) diversity of young people all the way up to fairly old people and everyone was a trooper. There were times when people were given the option to ride and they walked.‚ÄĚ
The richness of the history and the wealth of ancient sites made the trip memorable.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm still getting over Athens ‚Äď realizing that we saw things that were built in the fifth century BC,‚ÄĚ Miller said.
‚ÄúFrom kind of a historical perspective, it‚Äôs amazing,‚ÄĚ Daugherty added. ‚ÄúYou just go along and here‚Äôs a fortress wall that was built by the Byzantines and later it was captured by the Turks and then there‚Äôs a church that was turned into a mosque ‚Äď the Hagia Sophia ‚Äď the big church we saw in Istanbul.‚ÄĚ
Six of the tour participants completed assignments for college credit.
‚ÄúI gave them quite a bit of reading before the trip to prepare them,‚ÄĚ Miller said. ‚ÄúThey had to do map work. They had to decide on a research topic before the trip, and they had to journal during the trip. Their devotional presentations during the trip were a highlight for the whole group.‚ÄĚ
The venues for the devotional presentations provided a challenge for some of the students. Nathan Scott gave his devotional for the group in Ephesus, where the Apostle Paul‚Äôs message had created a riot among those who worshipped the god Artemis.
‚ÄúIt was an experience of a lifetime,‚ÄĚ Scott wrote, ‚ÄúBeing given the chance to preach in the same theatre where, 2000 years ago, 20,000 or so people were chanting the name of a false god in defiance of Christ Jesus. So in the place where the name of a false god was proclaimed, I spoke on the power of God over demonic forces (Eph. 6:10-18). An interesting aspect was that as I was speaking there was a group from a high school that was chanting and shouting something in Turkish which was seeming to attempt to drown out the message I was presenting. The great news is that God's message was heard loud and clear.‚ÄĚ
Daugherty and Miller also received a clear message from tour participants that they enjoyed their experiences in Greece and Turkey. Miller anticipated this to be his last trip for a while, but admits that the pull to return again was stronger than he anticipated.
‚ÄúEveryone was very enthusiastic,‚ÄĚ Miller said. ‚ÄúOn my way back I was telling people, ‚ÄėI‚Äôm not going again ‚Äď I‚Äôm done.‚Äô A day later, I was dreaming about our next trip.‚ÄĚ
Plans for a return trip to Israel are in place for 2015.