It is hard to express in simple words the things I have seen in this country the last few days. On Tuesday - we visited Ephesusand ummm....sorry - nothing comes to me. No one word that is quite adequate to express the awesome, breathtaking, spectacular and special uniqueness of what we all witnessed.
Here in the modern country of Turkey, exists the ancient ruins of a city of a quarter million people that existed before the time of Christ and that was reached with the gospel after Christ's death and before Paul's arrival.
We started our excursion at the tomb of St. Luke, where it is believed that he was buried at least, and reflected on the fact that Luke actually wrote most of the New Testament and gave us nearly all of the information we needed to form a pentecostal theology.
From there we moved our way into what was the 'agora' or the marketplace, and past there to the column lined street with what would have been shops on one side and civic buildings on the other. There was a smaller private 'V.I.P.' theatre, a hospital, and many other points of interest.
Inside a large covered area we saw actual homes of some of the wealthy citizens of Ephesus, with beautiful fresoes on the walls and intricate mosaics in the floors. Marble lined the walls and connecting these 'row-type condominiums' was a small Bascillica - a place of worship.
Further down, we passed the hospital on our way to one of the most spectacular structures I have ever seen. The library - which was porported to have been the 2nd - largest library in the world during that time.
But the crown jewel was the theatre. We came around a bit of a corner and for a moment, my breath was caught away as it swept out in front of us - this magnificent piece of architecture cut right out of the hillside. We made our way inside and two of the gentlemen from our group read the Scripture in Acts 19 and the events surrounding Paul's arrival in Ephesus and the resulting riots that broke out. Then our professor, Bill Griffin, talked for a few moments about the account. It wasn't hard sitting in that theatre to imagine it packed with a chanting mob of people shouting 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians'!
There was a moment there - placing myself in history for that split second of time - that a chill went down my spine. Even now remembering it, I shiver just a little. There was so much at stake that day. A fledgling church in this community was about to blossom into a much larger and group of believers. Had the city clerk not stepped in and calmed the crowd, who knows what violence may have erupted? Perhaps even Paul, who still had missionary journeys to make, would have been killed. God knows - that's who. And despite the plans of man his purposes prevail.
You know, if the gospel hadn't reached the Ephesians - it may never have had the opportunity to reach me. Or you.