4. The Yazidis — To be honest, before we started talking about the trip, I had never even HEARD of this people group. They are an ancient people with an ancient religion that worship angels with elements of several religions they have encountered over the millenia (i.e. a syncretistic religion). While we were there, we had the chance to visit their most holy site (Lalish), tour their temple (no shoes allowed), and speak with their temple servants (who were very polite). It was like stepping back in time. I'm praying for them.
5. 40-Day Prayer
— My big, personal, "God moment" came when I met a couple who shared their story with me. Here's a couple who has seen God use them to gather, encourage, & train those that He miraculously brought to faith. Here's a couple who once received a written death threat ("Leave the country or we'll kill you & your family within 3 days"), phone call death threats ("Why haven't you left yet?"), and had five 18-20 year old men visit their house personally to deliver the death threat. Here's a couple who sensed God telling them, "Stay," & saw God miraculously protect them over & over & over. Here's a couple who told me that they learned to pray for things every day for 40 days, and saw God do miracle after miracle (from finding a new car, to finding a place to meet, to guidance about where to move, etc.). I was HUGELY challenged about my prayer life, praying EVERY DAY for 40 days about important things, BELIEVING God will give an answer, and living TOTALLY surrendered to Him.
6. Ephesus' Ruins — I had the chance to visit the area of the 7 churches that John was writing to in Revelation 2-3. We actually stayed in Izmir (the 3rd largest city in Turkey; beautiful; the ancient city of Smyrna). And we toured the ruins of Ephesus (modern day Efes). Ephesus played such a KEY role in the Bible. Paul visited there multiple times (Acts 18:19, 19:1) and ended up spending 2 years of his life here (Acts 19:10) preaching across Asia Minor, and fighting with beasts (1Cor 15:32). Paul wrote an entire letter to them (Paul's Letter to the Ephesians). Timothy pastored there after Paul left (1Tim 1:3). The Apostle John (likely along with Jesus' mother Mary) was there (Rev 2:1-7). Anyway, walking the excavated ruins of the city & standing IN THE VERY SPOT where a RIOT broke out almost 2000 years ago over Paul's visit (Acts 19:21-41)…was awe-inspiring.