I am about to try go to sleep for the night in Istanbul.

The past 24 hours have been mostly sitting. In O’Hare terminal 5. Ten hours onboard a Turkish Airlines jet traveling east.

It is no exaggeration. Airline seat space is claustrophobia inducing.

But here we are. Now stretched out after an hour’s stroll with thousands of mostly in their twenties Turks near our hotel in the Taksim neighborhood. North of the Golden Horn. West of the Straits of Bosphorus. In Europe a half hour boat ride from Asia.


I have never been here before and will likely never return. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be with a small group of colleagues to learn something about Turkey, what the New Testament refers to as Asia Minor. We will see archeological sites and hear local guides as well as a traveling expert. We will listen to them tell us about Christianity’s early start in what is now a predominantly Muslim land.

Ephesus. Pergamum. Tarsus. Thyatira. Miletus. Early Christianity was an urban religion. Much has been made of how the Christian faith benefited from 1st century Greco-Roman cities connected by roads, commerce and government. Our first generation of missionaries were essentially urban ministers.

Tonight we walked among thousands of Istanbul’s young people. And I am not sure that there really is much difference between them and Chicago’s urban young adults, or Tokyo’s shrinking population of young, or London’s rapidly diversifying. Or any other large global city where urban people are largely yet unpersuaded that there really is good news in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Is the Christian faith one with good news for people of the cities of the world?