Imagine 28 students and 5 adults walking through the streets of Istanbul (or really just imagine 33 people walking together in any major city!)--A situation like this could be either sheer chaos or sheer fun- or perhaps both! Whether chaos or fun, a group this size without a doubt will draw attention! That is what we were doing last week- drawing attention.
For 5 days I navigated the streets of Istanbul with the junior and seniors from Kiev Christian Academy- along with 4 other brave chaperones. This is the school where all of my cousins attend and where I’ve taught drama part time for the past 4 years. Each year the juniors and seniors take a class trip and this year I got to come along as a chaperone. I’m used to traveling either alone or with one to two other people- so walking around a large city with a small army I just had to embrace the fact that I was a tourist! So embrace it we did.
The sights, sounds and colors of Istanbul are simply amazing. My senses were overwhelmed as I walked through the Grand Bazaar, surrounded by all the local sellers who were hocking their goods and crafting their charm to draw us into their booths- promising to make a great deal. I’ve never seen so much color in my life. I decided I’ve fallen in love with all things Turkish (okay- maybe not the men!)
Since I’ve directed many of these students in plays over the years it was a really special time to have with them outside of the school. We were also blessed by a Christian business man in the states who donated his Marriott Hotel points and gave us complimentary hotel rooms in the Istanbul Marriott. Wow!
My cousin Honnah, who is a senior this year, was also on the trip, so that was fun to have this great time together before she graduates in June. I’m really going to miss this girl!
While we were there we were able to tour the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia (where Christianity and Islam converge) and the Sultan’s palace. This was my first experience in an Islamic culture, however secular Istanbul may be, and I found the differences both fascinating and challenging. How do we as Christians share Christ among people of the Islamic faith? Turkey is the first place Paul traveled in his missionary journeys and Istanbul at one point was the center of Christianity. This is obviously not the case today. Amazing what can change from one generation to the next. Amazing the responsibility of sharing our faith with the next generation! Take a moment and pray for Istanbul today- pray for Turkey. Pray today that the few believers there would be encouraged to share their faith amidst a country of persecution and that people will be open to learning more about Jesus.