A special thank you for the comments we’ve received from those of you following our journey through this “travelblog.”
Though internet access is limited and we’ve not been able to respond individually, we read each comment and your words have blessed us. The joy of special experiences is compounded when you have friends to share them with!
Mike has always been an early riser, and this sabbatical study trip is no exception. Yesterday he woke at 5:30 AM and went up to the rooftop terrace of our hotel for time with the Lord. We’ve been in Athens for three days now, and the excellent hotel chosen by our tour leaders, the Herodian, is located just two blocks from the Acropolis. From the terrace two flights up from our room, you can read your Bible while gazing into the Doric columns of the crown jewel of Athens: the world-renowned Parthenon, already a 500-year-old tourist attraction when the Apostle Paul walked among the Athenians.
You can read your Bible if you have one, that is. To save weight in our luggage, we left print books at home and instead have been accessing our favorite One Year devotional Bible and other reference works on the Kindle e-reader I borrowed from my office. When we were in Turkey, though, Mike really missed having his personal Bible, so we arranged to have it shipped to Gordon College to be brought to us on this portion of our journey. It’s the Bible Mike preaches from, the pages loosening from constant use, the black leather binding so familiar to his hands and the words to his heart. Not surprising for a preacher to love his Bible.
So you can imagine my shock when he returned to the room around 9:30 yesterday morning, our free day to explore the city, and told me he lost his Bible.
After an extended time in the open air with the Lord, Mike was almost ready to leave when a teenager sauntered onto the terrace for the view of the Parthenon. Mike has always had an affinity for young people, so he struck up a conversation with Jacob, a 13-year-old Russian Jew who spoke perfect English. The son of a wealthy couple, Jacob was staying in our hotel overnight before departing from the port of Athens to tour the Greek islands with his family on their yacht.
An extraordinarily self-possessed and precocious teen, Jacob conversed freely with Mike about American and Russian politics, business, finance, and philosophy. “I’ve never met such a brilliant kid!” Mike said to me later.
And then the question: “Enough about me,” Jacob said to Mike. “What about you? What do you do?”
Mike’s response was simple: he preaches Christ. A barrage of objections followed.
“How can the Bible be trusted?” Jacob argued. “How do you know Jesus really existed? And which religion is right about the nature of God?”
What followed was one of the most intense hour-long conversations Mike has ever had. He responded to Jacob’s questions with questions of his own, and the final one was this: “Have you ever read the Bible?” When Jacob admitted he had not, Mike gave him his.
Jacob turned it over in his hands and commented, “This one is pretty worn, you know.” Mike admitted that it was, but that Jacob’s questions could be answered in its pages.
“So that’s how I lost my Bible,” he told me when he returned to our room.
Will we ever see this young man again? Almost certainly not. Will the Bible Mike used to preach from end up tossed into a corner of a private yacht? Perhaps.
But we have walked with the Lord long enough to know that no experience he places in the path of a believer is ever wasted.
In the first century, the Apostle Paul stood atop Mars Hill overlooking the Parthenon and talked to the Athenians about their “unknown God.” 2000 years later, a Baptist preacher named Mike stands on a rooftop of a hotel overlooking the Parthenon and talks to a Jewish teenager about the same thing. Paul had limited success with the Athenians, and only God knows the choice Jacob will ultimately make.
But it sure is the best way to lose your Bible.