For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
19 days left on this side of the world. That's kind of crazy to think about. In my time over here I have been to some amazing places, met many incredible people, and seen some indescribable things.
And there is still more to come...
One of the coolest things I have experienced since I have been over here is the unity of the Church.
There is this cool worship event every month in Istanbul called Taze (tay-zay) and anyone is welcome to come and there are scripture readings and songs being sung in Turkish, French, English, Italian, Spanish, and German. It was incredible. Hearing the same passage read in so many languages. It really gave me a really cool picture of Revelation 5 where there are people from every tribe and tongue singing praises to the Lamb that was slain.
I have met people I can barely speak 3 sentences with, but when I hear them pray, and I hear the name Jesus (Isa in Turkish) and I hear the passion in their voices, my heart explodes with joy for the Kingdom work that is happening in this country, and all over the world.
I have met people that were living incredibly comfortable lives in the states and sold everything to come over here and live in tiny apartments in order to have their lives poured out for the spreading of the Gospel.
I have met people from the ages of 7 to 70 and everywhere in between who gather regularly for the edification of the body of Christ and where the only thing we have in common is our love for Christ. But that's the only thing that has mattered.
I have seen friends from OCU over here because they are performing on cruise ships that happen to be traveling through Istanbul for a day or two. Can I just stop for a moment to say how cool that is? I don't know the next time I would have seen some of these people, if I ever would have! But because I dropped everything and moved across the world for 3 months, I got the opportunity to take them to lunch, open my heart to them, share this city with them, and love them. It's been incredible.
I have had to opportunity to walk the same streets as Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, John, Mark, and Mary.
I have stood where the Apostle John's body was laying buried in the ground for over a thousand years.
I walked in the same marketplace where Paul and Barnabas first shared the gospel on their first missionary journey.
And I have sat in the amphitheater where letter to the Ephesians was first read in Greek two thousand years ago.
The thing that continues to blow my mind in the midst of all of this, is we are all connected. By the blood of Jesus.
I am a little spoiled living in Oklahoma City because a lot of the churches in the city are very connected and like to do a lot of work together, but to see that happening with churches in Oklahoma or Missouri or Minnesota being partners with churches in Turkey, it is a really cool experience.
There are definitely differences in some theological issues, and I think there will always be that until Christ returns, but if we can agree on the majors and have healthy conversations about the minor things, I think we're in a really good spot.
Last night I was talking with someone about the state of the church in the U.S. and I said, "It is becoming harder to be a Christian in the states now," but as I sit here and think about that statement, I don't think it has gotten any harder, we're still called into the exact same things as we were 10-20 years ago, but I just think it isn't going to be this culturally popular thing, which is good. Jesus didn't come to Earth to be popular, he came because we were sinners in need of a savior. We were sick and needed a cure. We are sick and need a cure.
Something my pastor, Sam Storms, once said during a sermon was, "I think we forget that God never made a covenant with the United States of America. He never said, 'This is going to be my nation now.' I am more connected with a believer in Russia, than I am with my non-believing next door neighbor in Edmond, Oklahoma.'"
It's true. And I've been given a beautiful picture of that over the last 2 1/2 months.
Every blessing in Heaven and on Earth.