Pine Cove Forge Asia Minor Study Tour

December 27 - January 9, 2016

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Where It All Began…

It’s not everyday you wake up to the sun rising over the Beydağları mountains on your right and the Mediterranean Sea to your left. But today? Ah, yes, today we did and it was as breathtakingly beautiful as you can imagine. Greetings from one of the most beautiful and historically rich countries I’ve visited thus far. It’s a little much to take in and process, but I’m feeling great and rested from the long day of traveling we had to get here. To say that I’m excited for what God has for me here is an understatement.

Today has been a BIG DAY! We began our day at 7am with breakfast and a morning devotional at the hotel where Matt shared with us the theme of our trip, which I will get to later. We left the hotel and took a short drive to the Antalya Harbor where Matt gave us a brief biography of Paul (one of the main characters of our trip). From the Harbor we had the privilege to go to the Antalya Museum where we (quickly) learned about Greek and Roman gods and about the culture during the time when Paul began his missionary journey. We ate a delicious Turkish lunch (chicken, fish, fresh cucumber and tomato salad and bread) then Matt surprised us and took us to Aspendos, a magnificently preserved Roman theater that is actually still used to this day. We ended our day with a visit to Perga, a biblical site where Paul preached on his way back from Antioch of Pisidia.

I wish that I could share with you every site and sound that I have seen, but I would much rather share with you a lesson I am beginning to learn while I am here. Matt started our day with the theme for our trip: “When we stand firm in God’s grace we cannot be moved by the world, no matter what.” (1 Cor. 15:4; 1 Pet. 5:12; Luke 1:67-75). Go ahead and read that a couple more times and let that sink in. I’m beginning to learn that by God’s grace and through God’s grace I am able to stand firm on the foundation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. And when I’m completely grounded on that truth, the world around me cannot influence me, but rather, I have the upper hand in influencing it. Simply because the power of the Gospel is, well, powerful and far more influential than anything this world has to offer.

It’s only the first day and I’m confident there is much more to be seen and learned. I’m excited for this adventure and the gift it is to experience all that God has for me while I’m here. Please continue to pray for God’s continued provision for us on this trip and that we would keep our eyes and ears open to see and experience all God has prepared for us. Goodbye for now!

By Natalie Novelli, Forge Class of ‘13

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