The famous dome of the Hagia Sofia.
I was meeting Kevin and the team of missionaries at the hotel after they landed. Our first stop was to be a tour of the massive church. Our tour guide is a friend of Sally, my ministry partner. Elisabetta—Betty for short—and Sally were to meet us there. Betty is a born-again believer. I had met with her and Sally the day before to be sure that she understood our objective: prayer more than tourism, and the most important thing was my instruction from God to pray underneath the church. Our tour was set to start at twelve noon. But their flight was delayed.
Betty and I messaged back and forth, ensuring that we wouldn’t lose our place, despite being something like 45 minutes late. When we finally got there, everyone was very hungry. So our first stop was in the museum cafeteria for a quick bite to eat. The food was not good, but it was more important to get some nourishment at that moment. Prayer work is exhausting.
Then the tour proceeded through the museum. It felt mostly like a waste of time and energy, but Betty had to take us through the whole course. She did so as quickly as possible, taking time only to give a few pertinent details. Even still, I was anxious to get the work done. Since God had been speaking to me about praying underneath the church, and since that door is not often open, I had prayed and continued praying: “Lord, open the door for me.”
And because the tour was all about business and tourism, we would not be allowed to pray there in the usual sense. God had prepared me for this beforehand. He instructed me to write brief prayers or Bible verses on little slips of paper and fold them very, very small. Then He said to pop them one at a time into my mouth and chew until they were soft enough to form into a ball. Prayer bombs. The strategy was to load up my pockets and flick them one at a time into the far corners of the underground area where we couldn’t go. When I prayed for what verses to use, God led me to several scriptures—all about evil shepherds.
So as Betty led us through the museum, I was aware of the prayer bombs in my pocket, waiting for my moment. In the fancy chapel with the painted ceiling I felt a nudge to drop a prayer bomb there, but where? Since my understanding was that they had to go down underneath, it seemed like an unlikely place. But just a few steps away I found a fancy bronze grate in the floor. So I took one out and dropped it. Many times you do something like that and it would hit part of the grate and go bouncing off. But this time I think God had an angel slam-dunk it for me because the thing went straight down into the grate like a bullet. It felt like a moment of victory.
When we got around to the main church I saw what looked like a marble drinking fountain. But it was all dried up and dirty inside from disuse. Etched into the marble were the words Holy Water. So I took out my water bottle and squirted some water into the filthy fountain as an act of purification.
That was when Betty announced that she had a dentist appointment, and had to go. She led me around to the door that goes down into the crypt below—it was open! They were having mass there above, so Betty whispered a quick goodbye and left so suddenly that we didn’t even get the chance to thank her. We went down into the crypt and I flicked the rest of my little prayer bombs into various chapels there below. The atmosphere down there was very heavy, and it was difficult to pray in any other way.
Next we walked toward the nearby castle. Church leaders had used a passageway atop a wall to go visit their mistresses in the castle, unseen by the people below. They had believed themselves to be figuratively and literally above the common people. But the hour was late, and buying tickets to enter the castle just to pray in a specific area didn’t make good sense. What to do? When the wall caught my eye. There was a place where it was quite low to the ground. So we went and prayed there. As I prayed with my hand on the wall, I felt a holy outrage rise within me. I began to pray for an end to unholy fornication by church leaders—especially pedophilia—that masquerades as celibacy. I prayed until the outrage passed.
That was all that we could manage for our first day, but in reality, it was a lot. I was exhausted—and I hadn’t flown across the ocean like the rest of them did. We enjoyed a lovely dinner together and then all retreated to our rooms for an early bedtime. We had a very full day the next day. God is good!
 From my home church in Asheville.
 This place rakes in something like half a million Euros each month.