Biblical Turkey – Seven Churches of Revelation Tour

May 12, 2024 – May 22, 2024


Please join us for a trip of a lifetime . . .

TURKEY is one of the most fascinating countries in the world.

Turkey is one of only seven countries in the world that spans two continents. With part of the country in Europe and part in Asia, it has developed its own distinct identity, mixing elements from both continents. Turkey’s history is filled with Hittites, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans.

Western Turkey was the cradle of the early Christian church. The larger part of Turkey, in Asia, is called Anatolia, or Asia Minor. This is where the apostle Paul devoted a significant amount of his time and energy. In the book of Acts, we get a glimpse of how productive Paul’s ministry was: “All who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10).

Western Turkey was also the sphere of ministry for the uncompromising prophet John, who wrote his Revelation to open the eyes of Christians living in seven cities in the province of Asia to the challenges of living faithfully under Roman imperialism.

Churches in Turkey were instrumental in seeing the first Roman emperor convert to Christianity. When Ignatius, an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch, was on his way to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, he wrote a series of letters, which serve as an example of early Christian theology, to encourage Christian communities in Ephesus, Tralles, Magnesia, Smyrna, and Philadelphia. Numerous churches established during this time continued to thrive despite bitter persecution by the Romans and saw the triumph of Christianity when Emperor Constantine embraced the faith, and the world was forever changed.

Turkey combines Old and New Testaments in a unique way. Our hope is that you will join us as we visit these sites and trace the history of the earliest church.

Optional Extension Double Occupancy (per person) – $1,329

Optional Extension Single Occupancy – $1,659

Double Occupancy (per person) CMDA Member and Spouse/Family – $3,175

Double Occupancy (per person) Non-Member – $3,275

Single Occupancy Member Non-Member – $3,625

Single Occupancy Non-Member – $3,725


Cancellation Policy

Cancellations and requests for refund must be submitted in writing to the Christian Medical & Dental Associations Attention Kim Hodge P.O. Box 7500 Bristol, TN 37621-7500 or email

Cancellation charges will be assessed as follows:

Before or on January 15 – $400 per person

January 16 – January 31 – $800 per person

February 1 – February 28 – $1,600 per person

March 1 – March 15 – $1,800 per person

On or after March 16 – No Refund


Tour Package Includes

  • Seven nights lodging at three and four star hotels
  • Hotel city tax and porterage at hotels
  • Two meals per day beginning with dinner on Sunday, May 12 (daily open buffet breakfasts at the hotels, 6 dinners at the hotels, 1 dinner at seafood restaurant in Izmir) • Christian tour guide and PhD level biblical scholar
  • Entrance fees to museums and other sites
  • Use of Whispers headsets to hear the tour guide
  • All tips and gratuities, excluding tip for each lunch
  • Land transportation including shuttle transfer on arrival from Istanbul Airport on Sunday, May 12 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., or 6 p.m. and shuttle transfer on departure from hotel on Sunday, May 19 at 6 a.m., 8 a.m., or 10 a.m. • Map of Turkey
  • International Travel Insurance from Friday, May 10 – Monday, May 20, 2024 (allows for an extra day of travel at the beginning and end of the tour). Additional days are available for $7 per person per day. This coverage includes Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Medical Expenses, Disability Income, Emergency Medical Evacuation, Crisis Management, including the expense and coordination of a security evacuation, Personal Property, and General Liability. Coverage does not include trip cancelation, flight cancelation, or trip interruption.


Optional Four-Day Cappadocia Extension Includes:

  • Flight from Izmir to Cappadocia
  • Three nights lodging at Cappadocia Yunak Cave House
  • Three breakfasts and three dinners at the hotel
  • Government-licensed, Christian tour guide throughout the extension
  • Land transportation including shuttle transfer to Kayseri Airport for departure
  • All tips and gratuities, excluding tip for each lunch
  • International travel insurance from Sunday, May 19 – Thursday, May 22, 2024 (allows for an extra day of travel at the beginning and end of the tour). Additional days are available for $7 per person per day. This coverage includes Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Medical Expenses, Disability Income, Emergency Medical Evacuation, Crisis Management, including the expense and coordination of a security evacuation, Personal Property, and General Liability. Coverage does not include trip cancelation, flight cancelation, or trip interruption.


Tour Package Does NOT Include:

  • International flights
  • Turkish Visa Fee. Visa to be obtained online before arrival,
  • Lunches and gratuities for lunch
  • Beverages

Travel Arrangements

NOTE WE FLY IN AND OUT OF DIFFERENT AIRPORTS Arrival Fly IN to Istanbul Airport (IST) no later than Sunday, May 12, 2024 Departure

  • Tour Only – Depart OUT of Antalya Airport (AYT) Sunday, May 19, 2024
  • Tour and Extension – Depart OUT of Kayseri Airport (ASR) Wednesday, May 22, 2024 You may consider arriving a day or two before the tour begins to recover from jet lag or staying a few days following the tour. Kim Hodge can assist with additional hotel nights** both before and after the tour if you need them.

**Additional lodging nights for pre-tour and post-tour hotel reservations are non-refundable.**


Visas and Passports

Passport Each participant must have a valid passport. Passport expiration date must be 6 months beyond the last day of the tour. CMDA requests a photo of the first two pages of your Passport be emailed to Kim Hodge ( 60 days prior to travel. If you prefer, you may also copy and mail to Kim’s attention at CMDA, P.O. Box 7500, Bristol, TN 37621-7500.


Turkish Visa

Each participant must purchase a Turkish Visa prior to arrival. These can be purchased at


Activity Level

All participants should be in good health and able to walk moderate distances to fully participate and experience the sightseeing opportunities included in this tour. The activity level for this tour is moderately strenuous. You should be able to walk a few miles on uneven terrain without difficulty each day. If you have mobility issues, this tour may not be for you.

By registering for this tour, travelers are acknowledging they are of reasonable health and considered fit to travel and are not traveling contrary to any medical advice. By acknowledging their health and fitness to participate, travelers are indemnifying CMDA from all actions, claims and demands arising out of any lack of health and fitness. We reserve the right to remove a traveler from a tour activity if their health or fitness interferes with any other passenger’s experiences or the day-to-day running of the tour. In this instance, our normal cancellation terms and conditions will apply. If you have questions, please contact Kim Hodge before registering.

Breakfasts and dinners are included; all lunches are on your own.

Hotels for main tour:
Istanbul – Moevenpick Golden Horn Hotel or similar
Izmir – Izmir Marriott Hotel or similar
Pamukkale – Doga Thermal Health & Spa or similar
Antalya – Ramada Hotel or similar

Hotel for extension:
Cappadocia – Yunak Cave House or similar

Gene Rudd, MD.  For 25 years Gene Rudd, MD served as senior vice president of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA). A specialist in obstetrics/gynecology, Dr. Rudd has experience in medical education and in rural healthcare. He has garnered several awards including the Gorgas Medal, presented by the U.S. government for the most significant achievement in preventive medicine. As a spokesman for Christian doctors in America, Dr. Rudd has received national media coverage, including appearances on National Public Radio, American Family Radio, and Salem Radio Network, as well as in Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, The Washington Post and People. He is co-author of Practice by the Book.

Dr. Rudd has also conducted international programs with Samaritan’s Purse/World Medical Mission, where he established the Christian Medical Mission of Russia. He directed the rehabilitation of the Central Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda. Dr. Rudd has also served in Belarus, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, and India.

Dr. Rudd’s experiences provide rich illustrations for inspirational and educational presentations. He has communicated what God is doing through Christian medicine by speaking at seminars, conferences, and churches.

Gene and his wife, Brenda Gay, have led numerous biblical tours for CMDA in Greece, Israel, Italy, Turkey and now New Zealand. They live in Bristol, Tennessee, and have four children and eleven grandchildren.



For more than 30 years, George has found much joy in helping families navigate their personal stewardship and legacy giving journeys. He helped lead CMDA’s first capital campaign allowing CMDA to build its national ministry headquarters in Bristol, Tennessee. Earlier in his career, George served in leadership roles in Christian day schools, higher education, and international mission organizations. He currently serves CMDA as the Vice President of Stewardship Development & Legacy Giving. George’s wife, Rose, has served CMDA members for more than 28 years as a placement specialist in CMDA Placement Services.

Biblical Scholar TBD

Tentative Itinerary

The intent of the tour is to visit each of the sites listed below. Sites closed because of weather, renovation or other unforeseen circumstances will not be visited. The tour guide is given the freedom to use their discretion in the order in which sites are visited. At times they may visit sites in a different order/day than listed below.

Saturday, May 11:  Depart from the U.S.


Sunday, May 12:  ISTANBUL (Arrival)
Arrive in Istanbul. Transport to our hotel for dinner and overnight at Moevenpick Golden Horn Hotel in Istanbul or similar. (2 nights)


Monday, May 13:  ISTANBUL:  Archaeological Museum: Hezekiah’s tunnel (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chron. 32:30; John 9:7) Herod’s Temple Warning (Acts 21:27-31; 24:6,12,13)

We will begin our time in Istanbul with a tour of the Old City. First, we visit the pinnacle of Byzantine Christian architecture, Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”). Built by Constantine the Great and reconstructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century as the crowning achievement of his sacred building program, this church was the center of the Christian Byzantine Empire. It’s one of the world’s greatest architectural marvels and a designated World Heritage site. We will also visit Hagia Sophia’s sister church, Hagia Irene (“Holy Peace”). Also rebuilt by Justinian, Hagia Irene is significant in Christian history as the location of the 2nd Ecumenical Council (381 AD).

Then we will make our way to Istanbul’s archaeological museum, one of the most celebrated collections in the world. Among its treasures are the Siloam inscription from Hezekiah’s tunnel in Jerusalem, Herod’s Temple Warning Inscription forbidding Gentiles to enter upon pain of death, the Gezer calendar (One of the oldest Hebrew inscriptions dating to the tenth century BCE details the agricultural seasons in Israel), and stunning tile panels from Nebuchadnezzar’s Ishtar gate in Babylon (ca. seventh to sixth century.)  We will stroll through the colorful and fragrant Egyptian spice market, a feast for the senses, to enjoy its sights, smells and tastes.

Our day will end with a relaxing boat tour along the Bosphorus that offers an excellent view of Istanbul’s many famous landmarks on its European and Asian shores. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.


Tuesday, May 14: Fly to Izmir, Smyrna, Kadifekale, Polycarp Church

After breakfast we fly to Izmir (flight included in tour package). İzmir, historically Smyrna, is the third largest city in Turkey, located on the Aegean Sea. In Izmir, we will visit Smyrna’s Acropolis and Kadifekale for an overview of the city. Then we visit the archeological site of biblical Smyrna (Revelation 2:8) with its Roman Agora and where the early church father Polycarp was martyred. Then we will visit St. Polycarp Church (if open), which was dedicated to Polycarp, a disciple of John, bishop of Smyrna, and martyr, and ponder John’s word of commendation for the Christians in Smyrna who were persevering in their faith despite persecution. Dinner and overnight at the Izmir Marriott Hotel or similar. (3 nights).


Wednesday, May 15: Ephesus

The day will begin as you travel to Mount Bulbul and stop at the House of the Virgin Mary. Christians and Muslims consider this site sacred, and on their visits, they light candles and leave their prayers and wishes tucked into a wall. Next, we’ll visit the famous ancient city of

Ephesus. This site had successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements and was an outstanding example of a Roman port city with a sea channel and harbor basin into which the apostle Paul sailed. He lived and ministered here for two to three years after a riot in the Great Theater, which we can still visit today. Excavations have revealed other grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including marble-paved roads, terrace homes of the elite, Roman baths, the Celsus Library, and more. Today, Ephesus is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We’ll enjoy a Turkish lunch in the Town of Selcuk while visiting a local Anatolian handmade carpet and kilim production center and learning how our world-famous Turkish rugs are made. We may even see a flying carpet or two! After lunch, we’ll tour the Archaeological Museum of Ephesus displaying ancient coins, statues, and mosaics from early and late Roman periods. Next, we’ll visit the Tomb and Basilica of St. John, the last surviving disciple of Jesus, who is said to have lived in Ephesus during his final years along with Jesus’ mother, Mary. Finally, we’ll see the remaining pillars of one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, The Great Temple of Artemis of the Ephesians. Return to Izmir for dinner along the Izmir Bay.


Thursday, May 16: Pergamum and Thyatira

Today we will travel north to visit the first of the seven cities of Revelation, Pergamum. It is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in all of Turkey. Its attractions are hard to surpass: a 10,000-seat theatre on the side of the Acropolis that is the steepest in the ancient world; the magnificently restored Temple of Trajan; the remains of a library of 200,000 volumes, second in size only to that in Alexandria; the base of the Altar of Zeus; the Temple of Dionysus; and the medical center of Asclepieion. This ancient healing center had its own theater, library, underground tunnel and other buildings. John warned the church here that they were living in a place of “Satan’s throne” (Rev. 2:12–17). On our way back to Izmir, we’ll make a brief stop at the ancient city of Thyatira, where, due to the presence of the modern city of Akhisar, few archaeological remains have thus far been uncovered. John warned the church here about its tolerance of a woman who was leading believers astray, symbolically called Jezebel, causing them “to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Rev. 2:18–29). Return to Izmir. Dinner and overnight in Izmir.


Friday, May 17: Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Colossae

Following breakfast, we will check out of our hotel and head for Sardis. Here, we’ll see the remains of the magnificent temple of Artemis (later converted to a church), the beautifully reconstructed gymnasium and public baths, and the largest known synagogue outside Palestine. We’ll make a brief stop in Philadelphia, where much of this ancient city has either been destroyed or lies buried under the modern city. John wrote to the church here (Rev. 3:7–13) commending them for their patient endurance in spite of persecution.

On our journey we will make a brief stop at Colossae since this city is one of the only biblical sites in Turkey that remains unexcavated. Nevertheless, this is an important site for Christians to visit since Paul sent two letters: one to the church of Colossae and one to Philemon, who hosted the Colossian church in his home. We will also visit Laodicea, a major city in Roman times that is rapidly being uncovered. Laodicea had not one but two theatres, a stadium, an aqueduct, and over 20 churches dating to Byzantine times that archaeologists have already uncovered. Laodicea is the last of the seven churches to whom John directed the book of Revelation (Rev. 3:14–22). It also had a close relationship with the nearby churches of Colossae and Hierapolis (Col. 4:13–15) and was the recipient of one of Paul’s now lost letters (Col. 4:16). Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale. You will have an opportunity to relax in the mineral rich water from regional hot springs at our hotel, Doga Thermal Health & Spa in Pamukkale or similar. (1 night)


Saturday, May 18: Hierapolis

Our day will begin with a visit to the remains of the ancient city of Hierapolis, where will see the newly found Tomb and Martyrium of St. Philip. While in Hierapolis, we will also visit the city’s theater, with one of most impressive reconstructed Roman skenes. We will finish our time at this site with a walk along Pamukkale’s dazzling Calcium Cliffs. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its breathtaking waterfalls and calcium cliffs known as “the Cotton Castle.” In the afternoon, we will travel to Antalya, which in Paul’s day was known as Atallia and was the place from where the apostle Paul sailed home at the end of his first missionary journey. Dinner and overnight at the Ramada Hotel or similar. (1 night)


Sunday, May 19: Transfer to Airport and Departure

Take transfer to Istanbul Airport. From the airport, you will either fly to Cappadocia for the tour extension or connect with your flight home.



 Sunday, May 19: Transfer to Airport: Cappadocia (3 nights)

From the airport, you will fly with the group to Cappadocia (flights book and included with extension), famous in Christian history for the Cappadocian Church fathers and mothers who established early Christian communities here. After arrival, we will have a full day of sightseeing in northern Cappadocia, visiting the Zelve Valley area, famous for its lunar landscapes and whimsical fairy chimneys. These stem and cap rock formations made from volcanic ash are unique to this area of the world. A short drive will take us to the Avanos pottery village to see this local handcraft passed down from generation to generation since the Hittite period as well as the Onyx they also produce. Overnight at Crown Plaza Cappadocia or similar. (3 nights)


Monday, May 20: Cappadocia

We will continue exploring northern Cappadocia. Our first stop is the Göreme Open Air Museum, where we will see the remains of several hundred early monasteries, chapels and churches, including the famous “Dark Church,” that were hollowed out of the cones of volcanic ash. Some of them are decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible. That area also includes the Red and Rose Valleys, aptly named for their red and pink cathedral-like rock spires. It’s one of the loveliest trekking valleys in the region, so we’ll hike through the valley in order to explore more rock-hewn churches before taking a break for lunch in an old Cavusin Greek village known for its Christian heritage. In the afternoon, we’ll visit Kaymaklı, an underground city that was an early Christian center extending downward in the earth for at least eight floors and housing several thousand people in the eighth and ninth centuries. Then we’ll head back up to check on the Uchisar area to see Love Valley and discover how it gained this moniker. This region also includes Pigeon Valley, where the birds’ manure helps to fertilize the rich local vineyards, and those who wish will have an opportunity to try local Cappadocian wine. Our day will end with a hike up to the Uchisar rock castle, the highest point in Cappadocia, to gain a spectacular sunset view of the area. Overnight in Cappadocia.


Tuesday, May 21: Cappadocia

Our tour will head to southern Cappadocia. First, we’ll stop in the Ihlara Valley for a lovely walk along the river that runs through the heart of this gorge carved from the volcanic rock. This valley alone contains almost 60 Byzantine (11th to 13th centuries) churches, chapels, monasteries, and hermits’ caves. Next, we’ll visit the canyons of Soğanlı, an area that has been occupied since Roman times and was a center for Christianity in the Byzantine Empire. Today, it’s a bit “off the beaten path” and less visited by most tourists, so we’ll be able to explore at our leisure more cave churches with evocative animal names, such as “Doves,” “Deer” or “Snake” Churches. Our drive back will take us through some traditional Turkish villages where you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. Overnight in Cappadocia.


Wednesday, May 22: Homeward

Transfer to Kayseri Airport. Connect with returning flights home.