2024 Pilgrimage article on Voyages of Paul

May 6, 2024 | by Rev. Dr. Chip Hardwick

Walking in the Footsteps of Paul


Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing that comes from heaven.” (Ephesians 1:3)

This verse captures how the Kirk’s 25 pilgrims felt as we visited Greek and Turkish sites so important to the apostle Paul.  Our trip (April 3-13) hit many highlights of Paul’s missionary voyages:

  • Athens, where on Mars Hill Paul proclaimed God in Christ Jesus (Acts 17)
  • Corinth, where Paul founded a church (Acts 18) and to whom Paul wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians
  • Crete, where Paul commissioned Titus (to whom Paul wrote the book of Titus) and where Paul was shipwrecked (Acts 27)
  • Rhodes, where Paul landed on his way back to Jerusalem (Acts 21)
  • Ephesus, where Paul provoked a silversmith riot (Acts 19) and to whom he wrote Ephesians
  • Troy, where Paul’s preaching put Eutyches to sleep (Acts 20)—unfortunately weather prevented our docking
  • Istanbul, where Paul never arrived but the 6th century Hagia Sophia remained the largest church in the world for 1000 years

One of the most inspiring stops, though, came before any of these:  a visit to the Second Evangelical Church of Athens.  This small congregation introduced us to life as a religious minority—in many ways, to be Greek is to be Greek Orthodox.  Their commitment to serve the young people, immigrants and homeless in their area was thrilling—offering showers, food, and even manicures to their neighbors, whether or not they are Christian.  The center for youth had a mural with Jesus enlightening the pantheon of Marvel Super Heroes, “and this is how I saved the world.”

This vibrant church made me thankful that the Kirk serves its neighbors nearby and around the world, and inspired me to wonder how American churches might adjust to being a religious minority by offering life-changing ministries to those Jesus would call the least of these.   

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you!”  (1 Corinthians 16:23)

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