Most every spring, a cohort from Biblical’s LEAD Master of Divinity program prepares to attend what is called our Intercultural Ministry Experience, an international course designed to extend the learning process from the classroom to a completely different cultural and historical context. This year, Cohort 22 traveled to Turkey and Greece!
What did we do? First, we studied on campus, then we traveled and listened while on location. Our preparation for the trip included reading and discussing books on Christian history in the Byzantine Empire, cultural intelligence, pilgrim spirituality, and the politics of modern Turkey.
The first part of our trip to Turkey and Greece was confined to Istanbul, “the land of 2,500 mosques.” Today, Istanbul is one of the largest cities in the world, boasting a population of close to 15 million. At the heart of Old Istanbul, in an area called Sultanahmet, stands what used to be the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, two of the most influential kingdoms in all of world history, which ruled large parts of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. While the Byzantine Empire (330-1453) was Christian, the Ottoman Empire (1099-1923) was Muslim. Both used the city of Constantinople (what is now Istanbul) as their capital—and for good reason. Not only was this city geographically strategic, but it is one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in the world.