I've always loved traveling books. As a kid I read Peter Jenkins' Walk Across America and The Walk West and really wanted to do something like that myself. I've read Bruce Feiler's books (Walking the Bible, Abraham, and Where God Was Born) and again wanted to do it myself. Even Sunday Money with its trip around the country following the boys of NASCAR was enough to make me want to buy an RV and roll. I enjoy travel, even though I get to do so little of it anymore.
SailingActs is Linford Stutzman's account of the journey he and his wife took throughout the Mediterranean following the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul. From the purchase of their boat, christened the SailingActs, to each port of call that they (and Paul before them) make, to the end of the journey 15 months later, we sail with the Stutzmans to Israel, Turkey, and Greece in a quest to find out more about the man who brought the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Stutzman gains some valuable insights into the hazards of travel on the Mediterranean, hazards that were there in Paul's day just as they are today. Bad weather, government officials and their red tape, delays, the potential of shipwreck; Stutzman faced all of that, just as the apostle did thousands of years before.
I appreciate that Stutzman doesn't sugar-coat any part of the journey. When problems crop up, he tells about them. When parts break, we get to see just how hard it is to buy boat parts when you don't know the local language and the parts are for an older boat. The Bible only tells us of a few of the difficulties Paul faced in his journeys, but it's clear that there were a LOT more hurdles that he faced, but didn't write about.
The saddest part, for me, were the stops in Turkey. Turkey has a rich history of Christian ministry; the churches listed in Revelation chapters two and three were in Turkey, churches in that part of the world were instrumental in the early formation of Christianity. But the people there are ignorant of that part of their history. They don't know who Paul was, or what the big deal was about him. Everyone in Greece knows Paul, and honors him, but in Turkey (where he spent just as much time), he's an enigma. People are missing out on a major part of their heritage, and it's a shame.
SailingActs is an outstanding account of a tremendous journey. In the tradition of Feiler and Jenkins, Stutzman goes beyond a simple travelogue and learns to identify with Paul even as he learns more about him.