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Lydia was originally from Thyatira (where one of The Seven Churches of Asia were later located), but was a resident in Philippi, in Greece, when the apostle Paul travelled there. Although she is mentioned only briefly in the Scriptures, she holds a prominent place in Bible History - Lydia is the first recorded Christian in Europe to be converted by Paul, and her home became the place where the subsequent first church (the literal Biblical meaning of church is called out ones, the people) in Europe gathered to worship.

Paul's Second Missionary Journey

Paul's First Missionary Journey was limited to Asia Minor, which corresponds to Turkey today. Turkey is in Asia, and Paul apparently intended to concentrate in the same area on his second missionary journey (see Paul's Second Missionary Journey), but Jesus willed otherwise - The Lord decided that it was time for the Gospel to go across The Aegean Sea to Europe:

"And when they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing beseeching him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."

"And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony." (Acts 16:7-12 RSV)

Lydia was a believer in God, a Jewish proselyte, a "seller of purple cloth" (i.e. dyed purple cloth, an expensive commodity in ancient times). It's important to note that her subsequent conversion to Christianity was made possible only after "The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul" (see Ears To Hear):

"We remained in this city some days; and on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us." (Acts 16:12-15 RSV)

Fact Finder: What is the purpose of Christian baptism?
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