by Major Valerie Carr
The territory’s Biblical Education Tour to Greece and Türkiye (Turkey), which had been related for March 2022 and then postponed again due to a fourth wave of COVID-19 that closed travel to much of the world, finally was able to take place this fall.
Twenty-four soldiers and officers, led by Lt. Colonel Darlene Harvey and Dr. Rob DeGeorge of the territorial officer resource and development department, toured the ancient sites from the Apostle Paul’s ministry in Greece to the Seven Churches of Revelation in Türkiye. At each, local tour guides shared historical and cultural information, and Colonels Dorothy and Jeff Smith shared teaching and devotions each day.
The group’s whirlwind tour covered multiple sites in the two countries which share a biblical and historical significance for their relation to the writings and cultural context of much of the New Testament.
Starting in Thessaloniki then traveling through various places of Paul’s experiences in the book of Acts, the tour in Greece ended at the Acropolis and Mars Hill in Athens. The group enjoyed fellowship with Salvation Army officers from both Thessaloniki and Athens.
Their trek through Türkiye took them to the site of all seven churches found in Revelations, as well as several locations of Paul’s ministry and life in Asia Minor of the New Testament.
The 12-day experience served as a season of biblical learning and spiritual renewal. Time spent worshipping and learning as the group walked the ruins of the ancient past will become a significant memory. Lessons from the past will shape the way God’s Living Word is understood and will renew passion for ministry.
After worshipping at the ruins of St. John’s Basilica outside the ancient city of Ephesus, the group ended their tour with singing and testimonies on the bus as it returned them to their hotel for the final time. They shared a renewed sense of boldness on behalf of the Gospel and an expanded contextual understanding for the well-known scripture passages related to their visit.
A large portion of the BET is spent looking at what a city used to be, where a church used to stand or marketplace is being uncovered from centuries of dirt and debris. Standing at the unexcavated mound that was the city of Colossae, Colonel Jeff Smith shared: “Though [this] city is in ruins, the scripture is not.” Although empires rise and fall, the Word of God stands firm and true. As the apostle Paul writes in Philippians: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Philippians 1:6) The trip serves as a reminder of the fleeting nature of human life and urges us to put our hope and trust in what is everlasting.
The tour of Greece and Türkiye opens the Scripture in a fresh way, reminding the participants the Word of God endures and speaks to each generation anew. Each traveler returns home having encountered a living God among the ancient ruins and with a desire to
share what they have learned and seen with those in their ministries.