Tim Foster writes about his trip to Turkey to build a partnership.
I have to tell you that I am super-excited about the opportunity for Ridley students to study in Turkey. Even more than I was before. The Old City of Antalya is gorgeous – spectacularly gorgeous. Narrow streets, shops, restaurants, some interesting ruins, amazing views across to the snow-capped mountains. Not too busy or crowded (unlike Istanbul). The city itself is very ordinary, but the old city, and the streets surrounding it are just abuzz. It is all very, very safe.
The Church – the St Paul Cultural Center (SPCC) is amazing. Still in the Old City, the classes will be held here each morning for Revelation and Archaeology. The facility has a café, lounge area and lovely courtyard, with the auditorium upstairs (seating about 80). The café is a ministry, and makes great snacks, meals and coffees. It is even in Lonely Planet. They are keen for our students to have lunch there and hang out after class. The lounge is lovely and makes a great study area. It has wi-fi. People connected with the church are coming and going all the time and it is a wonderful ministry hub. They have some interns from the US, one of whom will act as a host. The facility is one minute from the B & B where students will likely be housed. Just perfect.
The staff of the church are super-friendly, welcoming, and very keen to welcome the students. The pastor, who knows Andy Abernethy, wants to host a welcome dinner and is keen for students to involve themselves in the services. His congregation numbers about 80, of whom around 8-10 are Turkish (they have a separate Turkish congregation, and also an Iranian one). Something like 20 people were baptised last Sunday between two of these congregations. There are several complexities with the church, and learning about those will be an important part of the experience.
I think this will be a life changing experience for everyone involved – but in a secure context, with support and warm Christian fellowship. I think it will be a winner for our students and for the college. Thanks for your support.