History whispers, "Many a traveler, many a caravan, many a messenger has passed through the land of Anatolia, of Turkey." Winding goat paths, the edges of steep crevices, wave-beaten sandy coastlines, valleys cut with nature's blade-through these, too, passed the feet of the Apostle Paul.
Romans called the land Asia Minor, its Greek name was Anatolia, meaning "where the sun rises." This peninsula, surrounded by the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black seas, is the land where the Apostle Paul journeyed and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. After Israel, Turkey has more biblical sites than any other country in the Middle East. For this reason, Turkey is rightly called the "Other Holy Land."
This land contains many important biblical, geographical, Roman districts that Peter, Paul and John either traveled in or send letter to, such as Asia, Galatia, Cilicia, Capadocia, Bithynia, and Mysia. Antioch on the Orontes, Tarsus, Ephesus, Colossae and all seven churches of the Book of Revelation are all located in this land. Turkey is especially important in understanding the background of the New Testament, because approximately two-thirds of its books were written either to or from churches in Turkey. The three major apostles-Peter, Paul, and John-either ministered or lived in Turkey.
The first Christians began to preach the Gospel of Jesus throughout Jerusalem, Palestine and Samaria. They faced rejection and physical hardship. One of those that persecuted them was a man named Saul. He was born a Roman citizen in Tarsus, a city near the Mediterranean coast in Turkey.
When Stephen, the first martyr in church history, was stoned to death, Saul was there. He was the most destructive enemy of the faith. However, after his divine conversion on the road of Damascus he became a Christian and the most zealous advocate of Christianity. He ended up writing almost one third of the New Testament and traveled the equivalent of about 13,400 airline miles to spread to Good News of Jesus Christ. Saul or Paul of Tarsus was appointed by God to be the Apostle for the Gentiles. He was to bring the good news of Jesus Christ across the nations, the good news that bring salvation and eternal hope.
This is the story of the Apostle Paul and his journey of faith and the earliest churches he established through Asia Minor, which we now call Turkey.
Paul blessed all of earth's beauty with the oil of God's love.
His life was an epic of dedication.