Israel Study Tour with Wellspring Church, Cherokee Hills Baptist Church

Mar 2-13, 2020

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Our Last Day

Well everyone, today was the finale of the trip. I think that I can speak for everyone when I say that this was truly a life changing trip for all of us. The things we saw and the information that we heard was overwhelming at times but God continued to grow us and to shape us in these opportunities and allow us to be stronger and better able to serve His kingdom in the end.

Today we had another early morning wake up and breakfast before heading onto the bus to start a jam packed day.

Our first stop was a beautiful lookout point over the city with some other sites that Dan pointed out to us. He told us about the town of Bethany where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus live which was also the place that Jesus stayed during Holy Week before his crucifixion. We also saw from this point, the tomb of Samuel in the distance among other things that we had visited in the days prior.

From here we made our way to the Mount of Olives which is mentioned a few times in the Bible. This place has a lot of significance for many reasons. One is that in almost all religions, such as Judaism or Islam, the Mount of Olives is where Christ will first return. This is one reasons as to why so many Jewish people want to be buried there. It is also the place where Christ ascended into heaven in Acts 1:1-12. This was a beautiful place with incredibly old olive trees.

Mount of Olives

Separated from the Eastern Hill (the Temple Mount and the City of David) by the Kidron Valley, the Mt. of Olives has always been an important feature in Jerusalem’s landscape. From the 3rd millennium B.C. until the present, this 2900-foot hill has served as one of the main burial grounds for the city. The two-mile long ridge has three summits each of which has a tower built on it.

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We then made our journey through the streets of Jerusalem until we came to Gethsemane. Here we learned that Gethsemane also means The Garden of the Olive Press which was very fascinating. There are two parts really to the garden, the first is a very secluded place that was a great time to reflect. We also took communion here which was very significant because this was the place to which Jesus went after the Last Supper in Matthew 26:17-30,36-46. It was a great experience to have before the last leg of the morning's journey.

After taking our time in the garden of Gethsemane, we began our walk down the Via Dolorosa to end at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or the rock of crucifixion. This was a long walk and it really put into perspective the walk that Jesus would have had to make on that Friday almost 2,000 years ago after being beaten, flogged, and ridiculed. Having to carry his own cross and knowing the place that lay before him must have been close to unbearable. Once we made it to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we were able to hear Dan talk about how this place came to be, how 100 years later Caesar Hadrian would try to hide it by placing a temple to a goddess on top of it and later how Hellene came through and tore down the structure to make it visible once again. This church is actually made up of many different churches and all have a spot in the building that is atop of the rock of crucifixion. They did leave a small spot in the floor to be able to see the actual rock. Although this was an amazing site, it made me disappointed to see so many people coming through here and are treating it as an idol almost and not a place of reflection.
Now I failed to mention that in between the garden of Gethsemane and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we stopped at the pool of Bethesda and the Saint Anne's church there. This was known as the pool with 5 colonnades and until recent years this was thought to be impossible until they learned that there are actually two pools with a colonnade in the center making it with 5 colonnades. This is where the story of the man born blind comes from in John 5:1-15. We also had the amazing opportunity to sing as a group in the St. Anne's church there which had amazing acoustics. The sound was great and Dan had us working like a choir in no time.

After we finished this, it was time for the morning to end and we sat down at the same park as the day before and Eli brought us all pizza. A little of something from back home for a change. We had some time to relax and catch up at lunch and then we headed to the bus to take a ride to the Israel museum in Jerusalem. This was a museum with both art and archeology in it. Dan guided us through the archeology wing of the museum and here we saw many of the artifacts that he had told us about earlier throughout the trip. We also saw an amazing recreation of the entire city of Jerusalem during the time of Herod the Great. This is not only a neat exhibit to see as a tourist but it is also a very helpful archeological tool that is used to determine what the time looked like, where different places might be, how things might have looked and many others.

Once finished at the museum, we got back in the bus and headed to the Jaffa Gate to do some shopping and to look at the city. We went through the bazaar and saw the shops and vendors and pieces that were for sale. It was nice to see the inner workings of the city and how the vendors work together. Sadly, many of them will be closing shop for a long time due to COVID-19 and the closing of the Israel border because of it.

At the city square is where we met for our farewell dinner on the rooftop of some of the shops. It was a nice room and we were served a really good meal. Although sad, we were able to thank Eli and Dan for such an amazing trip and the great things that they have done for us and how they went above and beyond to make this unforgettable. From Dan's humor and knowledge to Eli's bus driving skills and smile, they made this trip memorable. We also were able to thank Pastor Steve and Pastor Mike for the hard work that they put into the messages for us and the time they took to pour into us God's word. It was hard to think that this was the last meal that our group was going to have together and although this was sad, we had a great trip together.

Making our way back to the hotel, we packed our bags and got all of our things together for the long journey ahead of us tomorrow.

It looks like this is it folks! The last blog post of an amazing trip. Thank you for following along with us as we journeyed the Holy Land and were able to step back in time for a bit to walk where Jesus walked and learn so much more than I ever thought possible. I hope that you enjoyed it and soon you will be hearing the stories face to face with friends and family that got to witness it in person. Please pray that as we travel for many long hours tomorrow that God would grant us safe passage through all of our stops and flights and that He would bring us home safely to our loved ones back home in His timing. Thank you again and God Bless!

In Christ Alone,
Keegan

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