As things start up again in the life of the church this fall one of the things that is most crucial is hospitality. Scripture speaks a lot about hospitality. In fact, in the early church the words love and hospitality are intertwined. One could not love strangers and visitors without caring for them and entertaining them. Consider 1 Peter 4:8ff. in the Today’s NIV translation:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If you serve, you should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
May we find ways to show hospitality in our midst over the next number of months. It may be greeting newcomers in our midst. Perhaps it is inviting students home for lunch after church on Sunday. That is how I met my wife! Perhaps it may be reaching out to an immigrant in our community. Perhaps, it is reaching out to someone who is alone.
Our church has had an illustrious past. Alexander Mackenzie, the second prime minister of our country, was a member of this church in the 1840s. During his tenure (1873-1878) as prime minister, he established the Supreme Court of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Royal Military College. No small achievement! The Mackenzie Building of the Royal Military College stands as a tribute to him. More recently, Syl Apps, one-time captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and George Rawlyk, noted historian, have been members.
We are always trying to keep ahead of Queen’s University. We are one year older after all! This year we are celebrating our 164 th anniversary. We are having a church supper on Saturday evening, October 23rd at 5 pm. to be followed by a public lecture by our anniversary speaker at 7:30 pm. On Sunday morning, October 24 th at 10 am. Our anniversary service will take place. Our anniversary speaker is the Rev. Dr. Don Posterski, author of about a dozen books including his most recent Enemies with Smiling Faces. It is available at the Church Book Room at this time. Indigo is also aware of his coming. Don is an excellent speaker who addressed the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec Assembly a few years ago. Below is some information about himself that he has sent.
DON POSTERSKI, Background Profile
Don Posterski serves as the Director for Christian Impact for the World Vision International Partnership. His primary mandate includes working with World Vision leaders and developing strategies relating to Christian formation, Christian witness and Church partnerships.
A Christian humanitarian development, relief and advocacy organization, World Vision works primarily in the two-thirds world, but also responds to refugees, aboriginal peoples, and others with extraordinary needs within Canada. Church-based programs – such as NeighbourLink and publications such as Envision and Voices – reflect the commitment to respond to those in need and to use research to serve church leaders. Don and his wife Beth reside in Toronto, Canada.
Utilizing research data, Don has written several books connecting the Gospel with culture. Addressing church and society concerns, he co-authored several youth culture publications with Reginald Bibby. He authored Reinventing Evangelism and True to You: Living our Faith in our Multi-minded World, a book on how to deal with diversity while living as a faithful follower of Jesus in today’s postmodern society. His most recent publication is Future Faith Churches: Reconnecting with the Power of the Gospel for the 21 st Century. InterVarsity Press released Don’s latest book: “Enemies With Smiling Faces: Defeating the Subtle Threats that Endanger Christians” in early 2004.
Citing outstanding contribution to the church and acknowledging culturally-related research and writing, Don has been the recipient of three honorary doctoral degrees… A nationally acknowledged researcher and author, Don frequently responds to requests to interpret social trends and religious issues for the media. He also takes time to enjoy the challenge of eliminating the “slice” in his golf swing…
FOR THOSE WHO LIKE TO LISTEN
Kingston is blessed with numerous outstanding radio stations, including CFRC (Queen’s University), CBC, and many other local stations. Did you know that we have two Christian radio stations nearby? The Mars Hill Network is primarily an American station with an office here in Kingston. You can listen in at 94.7 on your FM dial. If you are older than Peter Milliken (I was going to say George Bush), you will probably prefer this station. The other station is owned by United Christian Broadcasters, a Canadian organization, and can be heard at 102.3 FM. It is based in Belleville but also serves the Kingston area. If you are younger than Peter Milliken and George Bush, you will probably prefer this station’s music. It is only a year old. The news on this latter station comes from a Canadian viewpoint.
FOR THOSE WHO LIKE TO READ
May I encourage you to read Don Posterski’s book, Enemies with Smiling Faces, prior to his coming to speak. Perhaps you can dialogue with him about some of the issues raised. I read it during the summer right after Virginia was born. It is available at the Church Book Room on Wellington Street.
About a year ago, I went into a few Christian book stores and saw a number of books by John Eldredge. Obviously there was a big push on his books. I knew little about him. I have since read one of his books, Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life We’ve Only Dreamed Of ( Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000. I don’t know what all the fuss about John Eldredge is. There is a recent article on him in Christianity Today. There are a lot better books to read, in my opinion.
One author I wouldn’t pass up is Canadian Mark Buchanan, one of our Canadian Baptist pastors in the Baptist Union of Western Canada. I have read two of his books and find that while he writes in an accessible manner for most people, he is much deeper than the likes of Eldredge. His first book, Your God is Too Safe: (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2001). Family members have also enjoyed his books. Why not consider this one as a Christmas gift? Better yet, read it before you give it away!
Buchanan’s second book is also excellent. Things Unseen: Living in the Light of Forever (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2002) was written following his father’s sudden death. I highly recommend this book as well. His books are available at Indigo, the Church Book Room, and New Visions.
MY TRIP TO TURKEY AND GREECE
On April 26 th this year, I received a letter from Dr. Terry Smith (no relation) of Canadian Baptist Ministries to join him and other CBM pastors on a visit to Turkey. The Philips who spoke here in May will be our guides. We will be able to see the emerging Protestant church developing there.
Let me cite some of the places I will be visiting on this mission/education trip.
1. Pamukkale/ Hierapolis is located due east of Ephesus in the Anatolian hinterland. It is 10 km. north of Laodicea and 19 km. northwest of Colossae. It is on a terrace overlooking the Lycus River. The church at Hierapolis is mentioned in Colossians 4:13. Christianity apparently flourished in this city. Later in Byzantine times the city was the seat of a metropolitan bishop.
William Ramsey suggests that Timothy brought the good news here first. Later traditions suppose that Philip the evangelist was the first Christian messenger here. According to Polycrates of Ephesus, Philip spent his last days here. The church historian Eusebius indicates that two of his daughters were buried here.
The area is known for its gushing mineral pools which flow at a rate of 38,000 l (10,000 gal.) per minute and deposit about 20 cubic meters of limestone sediment each day, so that the cliffs have been likened to an immense frozen cascade or travertine terrace. The nearby city’s modern name, Pamukkale, means “cotton castle.” What else happens while we are there remains to be seen.
2. Bergama (Pergamon) is one of the cities which John wrote to in the Book of Revelation. The church there was affirmed for its courageous witness. The temple of Dionysus stands in a central place there making Christian witness difficult. The city was founded about 400 BC.
3. Dikili is a community near Pergamon where we will also be staying. Both Dikili and Bergama are north Aegean communities.
4. Ephesus is a community to which both Paul and John wrote. Indeed, Timothy was probably stationed there when Paul wrote to him. In Ephesus is the Church of St. Mary, described in tourist books as an absurdly elongated hotch-potch constructed between the second and fourth centuries AD. The building, originally a Roman warehouse, was the venue of the ecumenical council in 431 AD at which the Nestorian heresy was anathematized.
Long before Christianity entered Ephesus came the imported worship of Artemis/Cybele around 1000 BC. The temple of Artemis was built on the north slope of Mount Pion.
5. Kusadasi has been described as a Las Vegas-on-Sea. The town means “bird island.” There doesn’t seem to be any church historical significance to this community of nearly 50,000 people.
6. Izmir is the modern day city of Smyrna mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The church at Smyrna was commended for “brave suffering.” It is Turkey’s third city and second port with a population of over 3 million. Izmir has the best claim to be the birth place of Homer said to have lived here in the ninth century BC. Alexander the Great ordered stronger fortifications there which were carried out after his death. The Romans built many impressive buildings there. Bishop Ignatius of Antioch, on his journey to Rome for martyrdom was halted at Smyrna around 120 AD. There he wrote four of his letters, which uniquely attest the earlier Christian practices of the day and express his own yearning to be “milled by teeth of lions into the bread of Christ” (Ign. Rom. 4:1). When he stopped again at Troas, he wrote the remaining three of his letters, including one to the Smyrna community and another to its bishop Polycarp. Saint Polycarp, a local bishop and one of the prominent Church Fathers was martyred there in 156 AD when he was burned at the stake “with his shoes on” at his request. He was a disciple of John the Apostle. Much of the evidence for the church’s conflict with gnosticism come from his letters suggesting that this threat to Christianity was more of an issue in the second century AD than the first century. His letters help make clear the hierarchical organization of the local church, with bodies of presbyters and of deacons helping the bishop. At the time of his martyrdom, the judge promised Polycarp that if he would swear by the Emperor and curse Christ he would be free to go. But Polycarp replied, “For eighty-six years I have served him, and He has done me no evil. How could I curse my king, who saved me.” Ephesus, Kusadasi, and Izmir are southern Aegean communities. The following article is a recent report on the Baptist World Alliance web site of a new Baptist church in Izmir, Turkey.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH of IZMIR, TURKEY
Ertan and Marlene Cerviik
The Anglican Church now used by Baptists
" And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: these are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life: … Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 7:8f.)
Izmir , Turkey : The city of Smyrna in the Book of Revelations is the modern day Turkish city of Izmir, with a population of 3.5 million. By God’s grace the first Baptist Church in Turkey has been organized in the last five years and is located in Izmir! Theo Angelov and I visited this church to encourage the faithful believers and let them know that Baptists of the world will pray for them, stand by them, and support them! How did this first Baptist Church in Turkey begin? To a certain extent it really began in the 1980s in Germany with a young Turkish teenager. More than one million Turks work in Germany as “Gastarbeiter” (guest workers). While on the street three young people from the YMCA met the young Turk and invited him to a Christian tea house where there would be discussion, singing and a devotional… and thus began the First Baptist Church of Izmir! To make a long story short, Ertan Cervik at 16 years of age, after reading the New Testament came to put his faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. In reading the Gospels, as with many other Muslims who come to Christ, he was amazed at how Jesus forgave people. But, doubts remained, how could Jesus be the Son of God? With many problems and questions he knelt by his bed and gave his heart to Christ. As is true of almost all Christians who convert from different religious traditions, acceptance of Christ is seen by the family as rejection of one’s nation, culture, and history. Not only is one considered a traitor to one’s culture, but one is usually banned from the family and considered an outcast. This has been the experience of many Muslims who have come to Christ. Ertan, almost 20 years later would become the organizer and first pastor of the church in Izmir, Turkey. He left home at 18 went to Bible School, was baptized in a Baptist Church near Stuttgart, Germany, and married a young German believer. Together they felt called of God to go back to Turkey and work for a Christian publisher. Gradually a group of former Muslims who had come to Christ gathered around them in prayer and Bible study. They formed the First Baptist Church of Izmir. But, where could they meet? In Izmir, in the part of town called Buca, there was an old abandoned Anglican Church. In the 19th century, many British businessmen worked in Turkey and in 1865 built an Anglican Church very much like that found in many English villages. Izmir was their home and the All Saints Church, as it was called, was part of that home. When they died they were buried in the cemetery which was part of the church property and was used from 1839 to 1928. After World War I when Smyrna, Greece was returned to the Turks and it became Izmir many of the English left. By the time of World War II the church was abandoned and in 1961 turned over to the local government. Because of the English cemetery it was considered part of the national trust. In the year 2001 the community of Baptist believers in Izmir, with encouragement from the mayor, appealed to the Ministry of Culture to use the building for Baptist worship services. The ministry granted this request gladly because the church was in such disrepair that its roof was leaking and the cemetery had been desecrated, graves being opened and crosses being knocked down. Therefore, the government was pleased that the Baptists had agreed to keep up the church and cemetery. On December 25, 2001 Baptists were given permission to have long-term use of the building. It was re-dedicated as “The home of the Izmir Independent Protestant Church – A congregation of Baptists – Izmir, Turkey.” The British counsel was pleased that there was now a congregation using the church who would keep up the building and the historical cemetery. Many tourists visit this historical church and cemetery, giving the congregation opportunity to answer questions and make scripture available. The church leadership has decided to open an eight month training seminar and educational program to train members in the Bible and prepare future leaders for spreading the good news of Jesus the Messiah, Son of God, and the crucified and resurrected one for the forgiveness of sins. As Turkey works hard to become a member of the European Union they are making many changes including the guarantee of religious freedom for minorities. The First Baptist Church of Izmir is an example of this increased freedom, for which we are very grateful. The congregation of 35 members is deeply committed and like the believers in the first century faithful and preparing themselves for the crown of life! The road is not easy for many of these new believers. Tears were shed when believers explained what it meant to be alienated and separated and banned from their families. But they are faithful to Jesus Christ in a very wonderful way that makes Christians in the West seem very superficial. Thank God for the Baptists in Izmir! Pray for them and the open door they have!
© 2003-2004 Baptist World Alliance
7. Istanbul is the only city in the world to have played capital to consecutive Christian and Islamic empires. It is now a city of about 12 million which makes it comparable in size to New York. I will report on this city more extensively in the future.