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  • anitahadley


Acts is a fun book to read! The author, Luke, takes the time to tell us how the Church (AKA, the Body of Christ, as we will read in 1 Cor.12) got it’s start.

When persecution broke out against the Christians in Jerusalem, they scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

I could NOT find a map that showed the area I wanted to talk about so I had to make my own. Excuse how it is not entirely accurate, but you get the gist. The lines and words in green are what I added to a map I found related to Saul’s journey when converted.

Look for Jerusalem (down near the bottom). I sandwiched that with two green boarders. That area is Judea. The neighboring area to the north, again with green boarders, is Samaria. So, the Jewish Christians (except the original 12) scattered throughout those areas (8:1). However, we also read that they went further than those areas (11:19). For that reason, Saul wanted to go up to Damascus to apprehend Christians who had gone thus far (Acts 9). Did you know that Damascus is in modern day Syria? (Note my green lines to mark the Syrian boarder.

Those Jerusalem Christians actually went even farther!!

We read how there were Christians all the way up in Antioch (that’s modern day Turkey).

From the map, we can see that “Saul from Tarsus” (Acts 9:11) was from Turkey! I always thought that all the devoted Jews, like Saul, were from somewhere in the territory of Israel. But that is not the case! Because of the “diaspora” (Jewish dispersion), Jews were everywhere, including Turkey.

Lately, I have been very interested in Turkey, partly because I have been watching TV shows made there and partly because I just traveled there last summer.

I was VERY sad to hear about the earthquake that hit the southern part of Turkey a year ago this month (Feb. 6, 2023). Did you know that the confirmed total deaths in Turkey was nearly 54,000 people!!! That is not including the additional 6-8,000 people in Syria. Rounded, that is 60,000 people, mostly Muslim, who went to meet their maker. 😱

Why am I telling you this?

Well, I thought it was interesting to read that Saul and Barnabas had a very successful ministry while living in Antioch for a year. It was in that town where the term “Christian” was first used to describe Christ followers. Antioch was a huge town! One of the top three largerst cities boardering the Mediterranean Sea. It rivaled Rome, Italy and Alexandria, Egypt. Antioch was a happening place!!

Sadly, in 526 AD, an earthquake hit the area killing 250,000 people, wiping out the city. (That was a lot of people!!) There are scarce ancient ruins left to prove such a large city existed due to the destruction. However, in time the Byzantines built up the city again (never to rival the other big cities). The Ottoman’s (Muslims) took it over from them, but, once again, the buildings were destroyed by an earthquake in 1872.

Now, back to modern times, notice on my map where Antioch is situated....right next to the epicenter of the deadly earthquake in 2023! (The red circles eminating from the city of Gaziantep).

History is interesting! Think of all the people that have passed through Antioch over the millennia. God cared about the people there enough to scatter Christians, having some travel to Antioch. Paul and Barnabas followed, to strengthen those Christians. However, the spiritual battle for souls is real and Satan didn’t want to give up that territory. Though that region has been dominated by the Muslim religion since 540 AD, God still loves the people. They just need to hear about Jesus again, just as those first people needed to hear the good news when the Christians arrived on the scene in 40 AD.

Reading Acts and hearing of Antioch has reminded me that I need to pray for the people in Turkey. I pray their needs can be met by Christian’s ministering during this time of crisis. Immediately following Turkey’s call for international help last year, more than 141,000 people from 94 countries joined in the rescue effort. I pray that there were some modern day Paul’s and Barnabas’s in that number who not only met the physical needs of the Turks, but stayed a year longer (like Paul and Barney did) to preach and teach the good news of Jesus! Pray with me for those who are ministering to the Muslims. They NEED to hear about Jesus!

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