Despite a postal strike in Canada, members of Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church in Surrey, British Columbia, still got mail.
Their letters, written 2,000 years ago, were originally addressed to the seven churches of Asia Minor, in the book of Revelation. Rev. Albert Westerhuis, Fleetwood’s pastor, read each letter from the ruins of the original church to which it was written. As the video began to roll with a familiar face and voice from an ancient, unfamiliar site, the congregation listened.
“This idea was on my mind for a long time,” said Westerhuis, “to visit the churches of Asia Minor and preach a series on it when I returned.”
Westerhuis traveled to Turkey this past spring with his wife and videographer, Luanne.
For Westerhuis, visiting the cities and studying the letters in their historical and cultural context gave him a deeper understanding of the power of God’s Word. “The world in which the apostle John found himself was cosmopolitan, multicultural, and multi-faith. It is amazing to see how the Christian church took root in that complex society, as well as to learn how each community struggled with its own circumstances,” he said.
On their self-directed tour of the seven church sites, the Westerhuis’s used an iPad to document their research, store their itinerary, and collect archeological information.
“As we studied the passage in its setting and context and tried to find connections with our church today, I noticed that all the different issues raised are relevant [today] in one way or another,” Rev. Westerhuis said. “Artemis’ temples may be not so much different from our malls. It all comes down to the question, what or who do we really worship?”
“One of my greatest joys was incorporating photos and videos of the sites into the sermon,” Westerhuis said. “How much better can it be when you can combine your interests with your work as a pastor?”