A boat ride in Istanbul. The magnificent Hagia Sophia church. Wonderful food. Beautiful countryside. But most importantly, this recent trip to Turkey was a chance for United Brethren pastors to see how God’s love is being spread to the “ends of the earth.”
A group of nearly 20, mostly UB pastors and wives, spent 10 days in Turkey from Nov. 4-13. This “Seven Churches of Revelation Tour” was sponsored by Global Ministries, the international arm of the UB churches in the U.S. and Canada. The trip was led by Dr. Mark Fairchild, Huntington University’s Luke J. Peters Professor of Biblical Studies and an experienced researcher into the biblical sites in Turkey.
“The trip went wonderfully, and it was particularly good for me as I was able to connect with many United Brethren pastors that I didn’t know well,” Fairchild said. “The many days on the road and the meals we shared together were important opportunities for me to discover the wonderful pastors that we have in our United Brethren churches. I am genuinely impressed with these people, and I was enriched with the fellowship.”
Several years ago, Global Ministries began pursuing ministry opportunities in Turkey — the first predominantly Muslim nation into which the UB church has ventured. They organized this trip not only as an educational experience for UB pastors, but to introduce UB leaders to ministry opportunities in Turkey. Global Ministries is partnering with the International Needs Network, a mission agency that works in Turkey.
The group visited six of the seven churches of Revelation as well as many other historical sites.
“It was quite a remarkable walk through history to where so much of the New Testament happened,” said Bishop Phil Whipple, a 1995 HU alum.
“The link between the Bible and the map wasn’t connected in my mind,” added Patrick Daugherty, associate pastor of Atlantic Avenue UB church in New Castle, Pa., and a 2004 HU alum. “Seeing, touching and walking through the ancient sites, actually getting the dust of Turkey on my shoes, made that connection complete.”
Fairchild walked the group through numerous historical sites, including an old, unmarked Roman road.
“As we drove up the highway from Assos to Troas, Mark told us about a Roman road from the days of Paul. We pulled the bus off the side of the road and walked about 20 yards down a hill, where we came upon a stone road, probably 10 feet wide, dating to the days of Paul,” Whipple said. “It was meaningful to walk on the road that Paul would have used.”
Overall, the trip was a success for all who attended from touching the ground walked by the Apostle Paul to gaining new friends from around the country.
“The 10-day trip opened my eyes to the physical reality of places in the New Testament,” said Steve Henry, pastor of Victory Heights UB church in Franklin, Pa. “Our tour guide was top notch. But ultimately, it was being able to travel with Dr. Mark Fairchild that made these places come alive with biblical relevance. I told my wife that if all of the professors at Huntington are the caliber of Dr. Fairchild, then we will seriously look at Huntington for the future education of our children.”