What I learned when I was raised – Baptist News Global


At “dark 30”, too early for a vacation morning, we waited in the cool air before dawn just outside our cave hotel room in Cappadocia, Turkey. Long before sunrise, an indescribable white van would finally pick us up and take us to the take-off site.

As we silently traveled winding, one-lane rural roads, we didn’t know what to expect. We saw taillights in the front and headlights in the back, indicating that we were joining or being joined by other similar vans carrying other equally sleepy tourists to the site at the outside town where at least 100 hot air balloons, heated and enlarged by all that hot air, with 10 passengers and a pilot each, would soon take off slowly.

Earlier, in the dark of night, trucks pulling long, skinny trailers laden with long, skinny baskets, soon attached to hot air-filled balloons, had been delivered to their designated take-off points through the carefully choreographed and well-organized landscape. Eons ago, volcanic lava combined with water marked this land and its soft stone, resulting in ubiquitous phallic structures penetrating and accentuating steep hills and valleys. And now men and boys were unfolding and heating air-filled bags, holding directions, or helping elderly tourists like me to board safely. Later, they would pour the champagne toast and hand over the certificates, commemorating the theft.

Feel the upward momentum of the fragile but mighty craft as it rises from land is both exhilarating and exciting. Of course, the view at 700 hundred meters, against the backlight of the rising sun, is magnificent.

Seeing more balloons floating higher and higher in the sky is awe-inspiring. Recognizing the advantage of the elevated perspective, view from above, and the dangerously attractive elements of silent flight will cause mere mortals to kneel down. Sophisticated cameras with exotic lenses and regular smartphones were constantly buzzing with activity. Sit with me awhile and I’ll show you my photos.

But today I’m thinking of something more beautiful, if possible, than the perspective from above, surrounded by the bright sunrise. For now, I remember something much more earthly, remembering that Turkish delight of a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. What impressed me at least as much as the predictable heavenly view was the unpredictable conclusion I came to enjoying this deluxe, multi-course and tasty special Turkish breakfast, generously provided in the ticket price , back “home” to our cave hotel, after the flight.

As I have voluntarily exceeded the “power limit”, in the same way that my aging body had defied the laws of gravity for hours earlier in the day, it occurred to me that I had just been part of a massive enterprise, made up of many moving parts, with a one and the same goal.

Beyond the obvious capitalist conclusion that this morning’s adventure provides employment for hundreds of otherwise impoverished Turkish families, with my hat as a sermon and article writer, I was taken by a unique conclusion and unavoidable.

I came to the realization that every person I had met that morning, as well as many others that I had not met, or would never meet, was, in those early morning moments, dedicated to one goal: her or him, young or old. Whether experienced or new, supporter of the Erdogan government or member of the loyal opposition, each worked hard to achieve a single goal. And that goal was to elevate me.

Whatever the role of these anonymous characters played in the morning drama, the goal was always the same. The corporate exercise was aimed at lifting me, Janice and all over 1,000 people higher than we were before the flight.

Oh, what a beautiful metaphor! How applicable in this day of ubiquitous, harsh and vitriolic comments on social networks, especially between Christians of different faiths. In the midst of all the stifling air that now pollutes our social, spiritual and moral atmosphere, how refreshing it is to be well installed by hundreds of people, united for the sole purpose of raising other human beings.

Isn’t that the goal the Almighty was leading us all to when Jesus came in the flesh and called his disciples to join him?

Bob newell

Bob newell has been a university professor and administrator, local church pastor and cross-cultural missionary. He and his wife, Janice, now live in Georgetown, Texas, and he serves churches as a transition coach and intentional interim pastor. They were the founders and remain the defenders of PORTA, the House of Albania in Athens, Greece.

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