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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Land’

Caleb ran the loop at Masada (it's bigger than an aircraft carrier)

Caleb running the loop at Masada (it’s bigger than an aircraft carrier)

Part of our purpose here is to see holy sites and learn facts about them. It’s more meaningful to be in a small group and allow time for personal reflection at each location. Because we travel around in vehicles, not on a bus, we get to make the most of our stops. (FYI, if you go on a Holy Land trip with a tour company, I think you’ll be blessed, but I don’t think you’ll have as personalized an agenda as we did.)  Because the last two days (Saturday and Sunday) were so full and I couldn’t get an internet connection to post, I’m packing two days into one post. That’s okay, because we packed two days of touring into one all the time.

Leaving early on Saturday, we travelled back to the Sea of Galilee and down the Jordan River Valley, watching the green fields of Galilee become the sparse hillsides of Judea. Our goal this day was very ambitious – Jordan River, Masada, Ein Gedi, and Dead Sea. Each of these sites have a special story, and each had their own experience for us. We looked, we marveled, we hiked, we swam. Then we made it to Ramallah for supper and the best brick oven pizza anywhere, then slept like bricks. Sunday began with worship at the Ramalla Baptist Church. Then after lunch, we went to the Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, and Bethlehem. For supper we were in the home of our dear friends, the Lada family. Another very full day.

At David's falls, Ein Gedi

At David’s falls, Ein Gedi

If the above paragraph seems lacking in detail its’ because the site-seeing isn’t the most important part of our journey (although it is incredibly moving!)  The trip hit the high gear when we got up on Sunday and headed to worship with our sisters and brother in Christ at the Ramalla Local Church. In some ways, its similar to many American congregations (a lot of people didn’t show up until the second or third song.) In many others ways, it is not (Evangelical Christians are a small minority in the West Bank.) Through diligent work and faithfulness from the body and her shepherds (Pastor Munir Kakish and his son Michael Kakish), the church enjoys an excellent reputation and influence in the key city of the West Bank.

I haven’t been here for five years, but my first steps through the gate into the courtyard were overflowing with memories of previous trips. Soon familiar faces of men that befriended me on previous trips arrived and greetings and embraces were exchanged with the emotion of brothers long apart. For me, it was another reminder that Heaven is a great reunion for people of Faith in Christ. At the gracious request of the pastor, I was able to bring a message of hope to the congregation and greetings from our church, First Baptist Church, Palestine, Texas. We shared a meal for lunch and I was filled in many ways.

Overlooking Jerusalem on the Mt. of Olives

Overlooking Jerusalem on the Mt. of Olives

Being with the believers here and encouraging them is the most important part of the trip. You see, many Christians come to the Holy Land with the agenda of seeing inanimate sights or dwelling on Biblical prophecy, but while they are on that bus they miss the real value of anywhere – the people. God didn’t send his Son into the world for catchy conclusions about ancient columns, fortresses, or (monument) church-buildings. He sent his Son to call people to follow him. It makes me sad that the bus-riders never spend time getting to know Christians in the Holy Land, getting embraces, sharing excellent meals, and practicing for Heaven. Getting off the bus and into homes makes the issues here real. Peace in the Holy Land isn’t going to come by spouting Biblical prophecy, supporting (or maligning) a political agenda, or advancing militant ideology. Peace will come not from better negotiations or stronger armies. Peace will not come from gaining acres of land for one group or the other. Peace will come from gaining hearts. The real promised land here is the people. 

If more Christians came here and were not on a bus, but in church pews worshipping with Christians here, be they Arabic Christians or Messianic Jews their trip would be a greater blessing in multiple directions. Strengthening the church here may be the most important thing you can do to bring peace to the people land. The church has the message of hope and you can’t preach that from a bus.

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