The 30,000 seat stadium sat almost empty in the early afternoon sun as tour groups from all over the world walked through its crumbled outer wall. We took our places in the upper seats as our tour guide gave us an over view of the Roman stadium of the city of Aphrodisias. When Rome was in power the place was alive with spectators and competitors, dust and sweat, death and glory. Grass and weeds have now over taken the seats. Parts of the once magnificent façade lay broken. The seats of honor sit empty. As I listened to our guide tell its story, I tried to imagine the days of glory that the stadium must have known before it’s fade into the distant past.
As our guide finished his storytelling, someone suggested that a few people go down to the stadiums field level and take a lap. Not wishing to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity, a few of us rose to the occasion. We walked down the uneven stone steps to the dusty field. The early afternoon sun beat down upon us. The wind lay quiet. As we took our place in the midst of a nearly empty stadium, the echoes of voices from generations past seemed to rise and cheer us on. There were competitors in the stadium once again.
After a near dead sprint down the 250 yard field we were all winded, but triumphant. The cheers of our traveling companions were lost in the distance. For a brief moment we were victorious in one of Rome’s largest stadiums. Our slow walk back across the field was carried out with heads held high. As we approached mid-field, we took a moment to bow to the empty seats of honor. The echoes of ages past faded as we walked back through the crumbled wall. We returned to the ancient city to continue our tour as champions!
The journey across Turkey has been filled with amazing tours and opportunities. We have seen firsthand the propaganda of empire within which the early church spread the Gospel. We have performed in theatres to the applause of people from all over the world. We have competed in crumbled stadiums.
The pictures do not do this place justice. The experiences will not soon fade and the lessons learned on this journey will continue to shape my ministry into the future. I am looking forward to the days ahead. In the morning we will greet the morning sun in hot air balloons over the unique landscape of Cappadocia.
Peace be the journey,
Travis Meier, 2013 Graduate of LSTC
Future Associate Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Fredericksburg, Texas