An Amazing Adventure
Reflections of a great trip to Israel taken under the leadership of Assistant Pastor Paul Miller of Tabernacle Baptist Church
May 26, 2017
submitted by Susan Wellman and Christine Gentile
Most children’s stories begin with “Once Upon a Time” and end with “Happily Ever After.” Thirteen people recently went on a trip through the pages of a book where every episode was packed with real-life people and places and where the drama of those episodes was life changing. This was a trip for all ages (to Israel) which included three generations of one family, three pastors from area churches, five teenage young women and a kindergarten teacher. Over 11 days in late April, they lived through the pages of the greatest story ever told, the Bible.
Their story begins with two different departure flights covering over 5,000 miles to reach the first chapter of their experience as they arrived in Tel Aviv. The first chapter in their story was spent in the village of Joppa and on to the Bahá’í Gardens which overlooked a truly beautiful city full of magnificent structures. Another chapter in their journey’s story was spent in the scorching heat on a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee where many thought about the 12 fishermen they knew by name who had been there decades ago.
There were times when the views of rock walled canyons in Jordan and gigantic waterfalls in East Jerusalem were immense and breathtaking. Another chapter in their episode will include a reminder of the great endurance required to make the sweaty full day climb up Mt. Masada (temperatures reached 105 one day) where the view from the top was magnificent. Additional chapters include a mud bath in the Dead Sea and an hour-long “bouncy” ride through the Jordanian Desert on the back of a “very high camel.”
The visit to the Holocaust History Museum was deeply indebted into the mind of each traveler. It will always remain a very emotional, bone-chilling experience when this chapter of their story is revisited. It’s hard to put into words the agonizing things people in the camps and ghettos had to endure. The extremely small rations of food and water made survival excruciatingly difficult, but the horrific scenes of killings of men, women and children right before their eyes added to their overwhelming pain.
Another emotional chapter of the journey was the heart-pounding moment spent viewing the Garden Tomb where it is believed their Savior and ours may have lain. Also, the visit to the Garden of Gethsemane where the Master had prayed in deep agony for each of them so long ago gathering strength to complete the journey set before Him, was a time for deep reflection and feelings of humbled gratitude by each traveler.
And oh, they won’t ever forget the dry, dirt roads and paths on which they daily walked and how dirty feet can actually get! In moments of deep reflection one could imagine the sandaled feet of the many people who had personally walked these very roads with the Savior. Considering the joy it must have been to have his personal attention, makes the instruction he left us in his word, his story, so much more precious.
Another advantage of walking was that it was often far less hazardous than the 20-person van rides taken along cliff-edged roads and around never-ending curves. The people met along the way, going about the business of their daily lives, was also a real treat!
This place of adventure was not a fairytale land and story. This was a journey over rough terrain and through aged buildings where the Messiah had spoken with his people and each traveler rejoiced to be there. A special chapter in the journey was to the seashore where the Apostle Peter may very well have cast out his fishing nets and brought in a great haul. One could almost smell the smoke and taste the fish frying on the embers as these men would have sat together to eat on the shore and be taught by the Master.
One of the last chapters of their journey was the experience of a watery trek on foot through Hezekiah’s Tunnel where the water was often waist deep and the tunnel was darker than night.
There were numerous hours of exploration of churches and buildings whose architecture was exquisite and the countryside impeccably clean. A walk through the red sands of the desert brought our travelers to the home of the Bedouins where all enjoyed the experience of eating a dinner of chicken and vegetables which had been cooked in holes in the ground for several hours. The meal was shared with strangers they barely knew but ended with friendships they will never forget. Those who went on this journey left a part of themselves with these people and in these places.
Another special chapter would include the day spent visiting with fellow Christians in the town of Bethlehem at the church of Pastor Naim Kury where the journeying pastors opened the Bible, the real-life account of Christ, and shared His words. Preaching and teaching in the Master’s native land was more than mere speaking, it was touched by the impact of the life of whom they spoke, their Master, their Messiah, their Lord. The experience was truly amazing! As one of our travelers put it, “we shared the same heart, experienced the same love and were instantly united.”
The numerous hours of walking through vineyards and desert terrain throughout the country of Israel were incredible. The hillsides where Jesus would have sat and spoken with his people were beautiful to look upon and often breathtaking. The chapter in their journey where they experienced the celebration of Independence Day alongside these very stoic people was both humbling and heart-piercing. They are a proud people with a beautiful land and heritage to protect.
This book of written words, the Bible, is for all ages and all times, and this group walked through its pages. It has a “happily ever after” for each of us as we read, understand, and accept the great gift of salvation the Messiah provided for each.
The pictures taken were far too numerous to share, but a few special photos are included for your enjoyment. lf you want to know more about the writer of this book, come visit us. Just like the friendliness of the people our travelers encountered, you will encounter a warm welcome at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Litchfield. We encourage you to come and meet the author of this incredible book, the Bible. Like these travelers returning home from their trip of a lifetime, this is a journey well worth taking.