November 6, 2016
We began our day saying the Shema and walking through any updates regarding our plans. First stop The Temple Mount!!!
When we got to the Temple Mount we were faced with significant lines. Thankfully it did not take us long to get through security and get inside. At the top of our climb to the outer courtyard (non-Muslims are generally not allowed inside the dome of the rock) a Muslim man immediately spoke out to any of the women whose arms were exposed. COVER UP!!! COVER UP!!! Quickly ALL of the women put on sleeved garments. And we moved deeper into the site …
November 5, 2016
“You can all get in the water!” announced Rod, our tour Rabbi. Immediately, I lost my shoes, socks, and iPhone, thankfully. I made my way carefully through the rocky river side, only to realize the rocks never stop once you get in the water, you just can’t see them. The current got stronger, about thigh deep, but with poor footing it is a constant balancing act. I stumbled into a spider-like position, and discovered it quite convenient if I moved sideways. I dipped my head in the water in self-baptism, my whole body submerged. I yelled underwater, “Lord cleanse me!” knowing my cry would remain private.
November 4, 2016
Day 8 began with Libby leading devotions with a beautiful parable teaching the value of giving our everything to God. With so many hikes behind us (and ahead of us), it was a timely reminder both physically and spiritually to hold nothing back on this trip.
We loaded the bus with anticipation, once again being led in rabbinical fashion without a specified destination. Arriving in the Roman region of Decapolis, we ventured through an impressive Roman city and came to a lookout overlooking the Sea of Galilee. From this place Rod made Luke 8 – the story of Jesus and the man of the Gadarenes – come alive.
November 3, 2016
We have finally ceased our long wandering in the desert! This morning we all woke up to birdsong, and greenery, and a beautiful view of the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee. We stayed the night at a Moshav, similar to a kibbutz except that private ownership is encouraged in a Moshav, whereas a kibbutz is community-owned.
Following breakfast, we boarded the bus for our first hike of the day, a climb up the Arbel. The bones of this country are hard and rocky, but the soil is much richer here which allows for cattle farming. The cows of Bashan are definitely fat. A steep climb up the stony sides of the Arbel brought us past the Horns of Hattim, where the rebellion led by Judas Maccabeus sought refuge against the rabidly anti-Jewish policies of Antiochus Epiphanes. We saw many caves and fortified hiding places along the way.
November 2, 2016
Today we went up to Mount Carmel, which in Hebrew is called “Mountain of the Vineyard of God.” The calling of the Jewish people was to be a fruitful vine bearing luscious fruit in the land of Israel. However, by the time of the Prophet Elijah, they had compromised their calling and were participating in pagan worship. Since the agricultural and economic prosperity was dependent upon the abundance of rain, the Israelites began to compromise and hedge their bets, worshipping Baal along with the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Baal was the god of rain and storms. Even King Arab, the King of Israel married Jezebel who was a leader in Baal worship.
November 1, 2016
Day 5 started out with the usual fabulous Israeli breakfast. We then checked out of the hotel across from the southern Dead Sea, and traveled toward En-Gedi, which is across from the northern Dead Sea. This city is where David cut off the corner of Saul’s garment.
We hiked up the rocky pathway, crossed over a small stream, and continued higher and higher to an incredible waterfall hidden away in the rocks. For me, this was a bit difficult to get up to this area, because of an injury to my hip. Many men came to my rescue, and graciously supported me by carrying my backpack, and even lifting me up the steps in the particularly rugged segments along the path. All the while, I was very aware of how amazing our community of believers is — that the stronger brothers and sisters support the weaker ones.
October 31, 2016
We love the good times. We love laughter, sunshine, birthday parties, and promotions. The good times can make us feel incredible about who we are and what we have accomplished in life. But life isn’t always filled with the good times. In Ecclesiastes, we are reminded that “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecc 3:1). Sometimes God’s purpose is to lead us through the desert. In the desert we reflect upon who God is and what he has accomplished.
October 30, 2016
Shalom friends and family! Wow, what a day! We started the day off with possibly one of the most intense hikes for some of our lives. You might have guessed it; we climbed Masada! Looking up at the trail we were about to take brought awe for us all, but for some it also brought intimidation. We began the hike up by circling up in the shadow of the mountain. It was even in the early morning that the difference could be felt between the sun and shade. Psalms became instantly more significant as we understood why David so often talks about God being our shade. In Psalm 121:5 David writes, “The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand.” This text became a very real and true promise as we began the hike up to the top.
October 29, 2016
It would be nice to debrief on the MANY glorious, ancient sites we embarked upon today; yet, I’d prefer to express the moments of transformation that happen as we visited each site of purposeful meeting with YHVH—The LORD. Out of six sites, three stand supreme due to its unveiling moments of transformation that took place within each student of the Scripture at large.
I count it a marvelous thing when God chooses to show Himself strong in “large groups.” Was it not before the children of Israel that He opened the Sea of Reeds? Was it not on the day of Pentecost that He chose to fall upon 120 which overflowed into the streets before EVERYONE?
October 28, 2016
Today was our first day in the Land of Israel on the GTI Study Tour with The King’s University Students and Alumni. I graduated last year in the MDiv MJS program, but had never been to Israel. It was truly a humbling experience. What I, or should say “we”, experienced today through the eyes and voice of Rod and Libby Van Solkema was nothing short of astounding. Rod pointed us to the Hebraic concept of community, which Israel as a people and a nation were called to be, not only for themselves, but for the nations that surrounded them.
October 20, 2016
Our trip to Israel will be here before you know it!
Once we’re on the ground in Israel, we’ll post periodic updates and photos. Check back often or get update notifications using the subscribe options on this page.
We’ll be sharing our travel experiences online with you, our friends and family, to not only bring you along on the journey with us, but to also solicit your ongoing prayer and support. Most of us on this trip have been preparing mentally and spiritually for what will be a life-changing experience in the land. We’re also preparing physically as we train our bodies to handle all the time we’ll spend on our feet walking. So please pray that we would be diligent in our preparations and we would all be ready to learn what God has to teach us!