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REMEMBERING SMYNRA


REMEMBERING SMYNRA

William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person

A fairly short distance north of the ancient city of Ephesus lies the ruins of the city of Smyrna. There, a great church of the Lord Jesus Christ was established under the ministry of Paul and his companions. The church at Smyrna is one of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation chapters two and three. The message of the Lord to this great church, and to those who would follow after in the same environment was one of great encouragement. They, in their trials, were to take the longer look at what was really important; to discern the beginning from the end. Accordingly, Jesus presented Himself to them as the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive. They were assured their trouble was not unnoticed by the Lord. Then, they were admonished to not fear the suffering that was coming. In their poverty, they were accounted as being rich. Moreover, they were promised a crown of life for their faithfulness. What a wonderful message to the church folks in their trials and suffering for the Lord.
It was my privilege to visit this ancient site some years ago. Being on a “Journeys of Paul” tour, Turkey was approached by ship from Greece. As the ship came within a few miles of land, an outline of the modern city of Izmir came into view. The alabaster buildings gleamed in sunlight piercing, scattering clouds that had bathed them in fresh, cool rain. In the foreground was the beautiful deep blue water of the Aegean Sea, and above the city in the few remaining clouds, a rainbow graced a scene that begged to be on canvas.
Izmir, the surviving, thriving city of ancient Smyrna hosts a population of perhaps two million. When I arrived there, the city had installed the first traffic lights, and most did not know what they meant. So the operating law of traffic was who had the loudest horn, and who was bold enough to push forward first. I observed that any desirable dwelling had armed guards patrolling the property however small. Inquiry revealed the country observed squatter’s rights. Any four walls and roof was home and occupants could not be moved, so the constant vigil to keep people away.
The ruins of Smyrna are not as prominent or large as some others, but enough remains to testify of a thriving city in which dedicated saints of the Lord paid a heavy price to advance the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our group paused and gave thanks for what the Lord’s church did here among so many enemies of the gospel, even the synagogue of Satan.
Being there was a grim reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Modern churches conquered by the world, and its synagogues of Satan soon turn to belittle and marginalize true churches who love the Word and seek to advance its cause. Because that cramps their style, their wrath is often incurred. It is just in such a time that the faithfulness of Smyrna should be remembered, and their example followed.

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339 – Dec. 05 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

A Baptist church still thrives in Athens

 

1842 – Two Greek converts, John and Kyriakes, who had been baptized the previous day by Apostolos, a Greek national convert, were attacked by some rabble who screamed, “Away with the antichrists!” On the following day the mob, that had been stirred up Greek Orthodox priests, gathered near the home of Apostolos and threatened him with violence. He was accused of turning the people into Americans and breaking down their religion. Apostolos, a previously converted national, the first Baptist convert of the modern era, had been baptized in August of 1840 by Horace T. Love. He and his wife had sailed for Greece on Oct. 24, 1836 with Rev. and Mrs. Cephas Pasco. Their ship arrived at Patras on Dec. 9. Even though they applied to the government for permission to distribute scriptures they were rebuffed and received much opposition from the officials of the Greek Orthodox Church, even issuing a decree prohibiting the reading of the new Scriptures and commanded that copies should be burned wherever found. The decree actually aided the Baptist cause. By 1838 they had acquired the language and locations for their ministries. In 1839, Harriett Dickson, a widowed teacher who already knew the language came to teach in the school that they had opened in 1837. Rev. and Mrs. R.F. Buel then came and joined in to help in the work at Patras, for a time, before moving on to Malta. However, both Love and Pasco’s health failed and they went back to America. Other missionaries came, but Buel recommended that the mission be terminated and in 1855 it was halted. But today, thank God, a great Baptist church thrives in Athens. [This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 665-67. Henry C. Vedder, A Short History of Baptist Missions (Philadelphia: Judson Press, 1927), p. 435.
Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon

 

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