* HALF-OFF SALE for new subscribers, now through 10/15 *

The First People Called “Christians”
Time Machine
Posted: May 01, 2023
  • 1 antioch
    People gather around a bonfire. This is a temporary camp for people who lost their homes during the earthquake in Antakya, Turkey. (AP/Bernat Armangue)
  • 2 antioch
    The quake destroyed the Greek Orthodox Church in Antakya. (AP/Hussein Malla)
  • 3 antioch
    The Church of Saint Peter was used by some of the first Christians. The church is built into a mountain. That helped protect it from the earthquake. (Carole Raddato/CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • 4 antioch
    Paul and Barnabas preached in Antioch. (Public domain)
  • 5 antioch
    Collapsed buildings in Antakya (AP/Khalil Hamra)
  • 1 antioch
  • 2 antioch
  • 3 antioch
  • 4 antioch
  • 5 antioch


You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining.

The bad news: You've hit your limit of free articles.
The good news: You can receive full access below.
WORLDkids | Ages 7-10 | $35.88 per year

Already a member? Sign in.

Jan Estefan works as a silversmith in Antakya. He’s one of the city’s few remaining Christians. “Antakya’s destruction is a loss to humanity,” he says. Antakya’s Greek Orthodox Church was destroyed in the quakes.

But outside the city center, one of Christianity’s earliest churches mostly stayed together. Christians built that church in a cave in the mountain. Some parts of it go back to the 4th century!

Modern Antakya faced trouble even before the quakes struck. People grew poor. The population shrank. Still, some Christian communities remained. A group of Muslims called Alevis stayed too. Syrians came to live there to escape civil war.

People living in Antakya complain the government doesn’t help with their needs. Many worry more people could leave if Antakya is not rebuilt quickly.

But has God forgotten the troubled city? Not at all. He knows and cares for the people there, just like He knew and cared for the people who lived in Antioch during Bible times.

Try this. Turn to Acts 11. Look for the word Antioch. Do you see it?

At the time described in Acts, Antioch was part of Greece. Christians went there to tell people about Jesus. See Acts 11:21: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” Barnabas went to Antioch to see what God was doing there. Next, Paul came. These two taught many in Antioch.

Did you know Antioch is part of your history? Acts tells us “the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” (verse 26)

Pray for the people of Antakya. Pray they will get what they need and come to know Jesus like people did in Antioch long ago.