March 24, 2016
Now that we’ve returned from our study tour you’ve hopefully been able to talk to one of us in person about what we saw, heard, learned, and experienced!
Below is a wrap up video that serves as a nice summary of the trip and a reminder of all that we did.
March 16, 2016
Though it was our final day in Israel, we did not waste one minute of the precious time we had left. With Ronen’s guidance we were able to hit the first site of the day, the Mount of Olives, before masses of tourists arrived. Despite rain and wind, Troy’s message was clear. In Jesus’ last days his work did not let up: here, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus challenged his disciples to be obedient and was intentional in his worship and mission of sharing the Good News. The Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested, lies at the foot of the mountain ridge and from the top we had a spectacular view of the city and specifically of the Dome of the Rock. Today, a Catholic church stands there called The Church of All Nations, or the Church of Agony, which we were able to visit as well.
March 15, 2016
As the final days of Jesus’ life were spent in Jerusalem so too are the final days of our trip. Much anticipation has swelled over the past week as we’ve inched ever closer to our last destination. After arriving last night, we were prepared and eager for what today had in store.
The first and major stop of the day was the Temple Mount – a site riddled with conflict, steeped in history, and filled with majesty. One of the most significant religious sites in the world, it is venerated by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. For us, however, it’s importance lies in what Jesus did there and in the role it played for the early Church.
March 14, 2016
Light mist was in the air as we loaded the buses and saying goodbye to the Galilee. It’s on to Jerusalem! The first stop was in the ruins of Beit Sha’en. Jesus might not have walked down these roads, but they were there when he was walking around. It was amazing to see the construction (and destruction from an earthquake in 729 AD) the far reaching effect of Greek and then Roman culture. We also saw the hill where Saul’s headless body was hung after being killed in battle with Philistines. The air was still as we toured around the streets, a reminder that in this place there might have been great human ingenuity and comfort, but the Spirit was not present.
March 13, 2016
The day began and ended with Christ in charge. Let’s go backwards.
After dinner, we and listened to the experience and perspective of an Arab Christian church planter living in Nazareth, named Saleem (yes, let all those descriptions sink in). It was apparent that God is at work in the Holy Land with the Good News. Saleem has the rare privilege of having been born to Christian parents and shares in ministry with others to minister and share the Gospel with Arabs living in Israel. Christ is being preaching and He is moving people to faith by His Spirit in ways that only He could do. Christ was in the City.
March 12, 2016
Today’s journey began on the very sea that Jesus walked, where he called out to his disciples, and around which he carried out much of his ministry. As we sailed the Sea of Galilee, we listened to worship music and reflected in our journals on Jesus’ life. A moment of particular poignancy occurred as the lyrics to “Oceans” hung in the air: “I will call upon your name, and rest my eyes above the waves. As oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace, for I am yours and you are mine.”
March 11, 2016
Our bags were packed and our hearts and minds were ready for new sites when we left the Dead Sea this morning and headed for Ein Gedi, the largest oasis south of the Dead Sea. Ein Gedi is referred to by name several times in the Bible, but most notably, as the place where David hid from King Saul in a cave. At the Spring of Ein Gedi, Marshall explained the Biblical significance of living water, comparing the stagnate cistern water of Masada to the flowing spring water of Ein Gedi. In the spirit of John 7:38, which states, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water,” Marshall posed the question: why settle for dead water when you can have living water in Christ?
March 10, 2016
Today, our first site was Masada, which means “stronghold.” Thankfully, we didn’t have to walk to the top! Instead we took a tram. Once we reached the top we were able to see the palace that King Herod built and lived in. It was massive and very well-constructed, an ability that the people of Israel could not achieve until the 20th century. Basically, Herod was a very smart man! We learned from our Israeli guide that the events that occurred at Masada and during the Holocaust, affect and define the Israelis still today.
March 9, 2016
After over twenty-four hours straight of travel we finally arrived in Tel Aviv late last night where we were met by our tour guide, Ronan, and bus driver, Meir, who we are privileged to be with for the duration of the trip. The journey itself was not without its highlights as many enjoyed the experience of their first cup of Turkish coffee during the layover in Istanbul (Turkish coffee is known for its thickness and strength as it is prepared unfiltered).
Despite a long night for many, we rallied by morning just in time for our first stop of the tour: Yad Hashmona. The “Memorial for the Eight” was founded by Finnish Christians in 1971 to commemorate eight Jewish refugees who fled Austria and escaped to Finland in 1938. At Yad Hashmona, we saw a replica of an olive press, a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath), and a sarcophagus, or burial cave, each recreating ancient Jewish agriculture.
February 16, 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!