The Kansas-Nebraska Conference tour of the seven churches of Revelation began on May 2 with 35 individuals departing from various points, eager to arrive in Istanbul, Turkey, to begin the 10-day tour. The first few days were spent visiting the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, and taking a boat trip on the Bosporus, which connects Europe and Asia. Visiting these sites offered a deep appreciation for Turkish culture and history. The strategic placement of Istanbul provided the perfect crossroad for the gospel message to be shared in all the world.
It is within this context that the group began to visit each of the seven churches for the next four days. While the exact location of the seven churches is not known, the tour group visited the historic location of each city. At each location the group read the letter addressed to that specific place, conference president Ron Carlson presented a short meditation, and individuals were invited to share their thoughts and insights of each letter while standing in that historic location.
Lastly, the group sang a song and prayed together. Acts 19 was read when the group arrived at the theatre of Ephesus and after meditating on the events that Paul experienced, the group took center stage of the theater to sing a few songs to the enjoyment of the crowd. These worship experiences brought Scripture to life and challenged participants to not just go through the motions of ministry but to consider the motive of each heart as being just as important.
After visiting the seven churches, the tour group took a ferry to Patmos, where John was exiled and received the vision that is written in the book of Revelation. Many were impacted on the ferry ride to Patmos, as they meditated on John taking a similar journey. He perhaps thought that his ministry was coming to an end as each wave brought him closer to his exile. Yet he would never have imaged how necessary it was for him to receive this vision and to share it with the seven churches.
As the tour neared its end, the group made their way to Athens, Greece. They were able to visit the Parthenon and Mars Hill, where Paul preached in Acts 17. The two final locations of the tour were Mycenae and Corinth, churches to which Paul wrote two letters.
For most participants, the most impactful aspect of this trip is knowing that the same God who spoke to the churches of Revelation is the same God who deeply cares for and speaks to His church today. “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”