I just returned from another trip to Israel, my 39th. Once again, it’s humbling to be part of such a wonderful experience where we meet God at every corner, in every passage we read “on site,” and through the worship and reflection times along the way. As God brought together a wonderful group of believers, we met Him in our fellowship as well. What a joy and privilege to meet new friends in our journey of faith, friends who reflect God’s Spirit, and friends who care for one another.
This trip was unique, for I combined a visit to Turkey along with our primary focus in Israel. Imagine Tours & Travel did another outstanding job in coordinating all the trip details (flights, hotels, transfers, etc…) for us. They are the best in the business, hands down! Our first full day was actually in Istanbul, a unique city located on the European and Asia border. We were warmly greeted by Turks in our visits to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, and in the Grand Bazaar. Before we flew to Israel, we enjoyed a boat ride on the Bosporus Straight.
Our time was Israel as also blessed with sunny skies, almost perfect temps (although our first day was in the 90s), and many special experiences visiting the 40+ biblical sites. Shlomo (my regular Israeli guide) shared once again his passion for the land, history, and of course the Jewish people. His lovely wife, Rachel, even hosted us for dessert one evening at their home.
This trip headed north first, first through the Coastal Plain, the Carmel Range, and the Jezreel Valley en route to the Galilee. We spent three nights in Tiberias. We traveled to the northern border (the Golan Heights) and even got to peak into both Syria and Lebanon. From here we drove south through the Jordan Valley to Jericho. We rode the cable car up to the cliffs of the Judean Desert, giving us a great view of the valley. Across the valley in Jordan, Mt. Nebo could be seen clearly. We enjoyed the Dead Sea area as well. We were warmly greeted by Israelis and Arabs alike!
The rest of the time was spent in Jerusalem. From the Mt. of Olives to the Old City, we experienced many great things. On the top of the “favorites” list for this group was Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the Garden of Gethesmane, and the Garden Tomb.
We had no issues with safety, as predicted. Dealing with the “Is it safe?” question is always a challenge. Regrettably and for no realistic reason, I have folks who choose not to travel to Israel because of either what they see on the “sensationalized” news or because of what someone may tell them (inaccurately) about “conditions” in Israel. The “scare factor” is what influences people the most. However, as I have led four trips thus far this year, there simply are not safety issues in Israel, period! Please don’t be afraid to travel to Israel. Based on the lines at passport control at the airport and hotels that are booked full of tourists, tourism is doing well. I share these words of encouragement to anyone who is contemplating a trip to Israel but are being told by a well-meaning friend or family member, “You are crazy in wanting to go to Israel!” Virtually everyone on this trip heard this on one form of another from a loved-one. 🙂 I invite you to travel to Israel with us if God is leading you. Don’t let a question about safety hold you back. After all, God’s protection “crosses borders” too for all of us, wherever we are and wherever we go. Praise be to God!
With three more to go this year (July, September, and October-November), I look forward to many more great group encounters with God in the land of the Bible. If you feel led to join me this year as an individual traveler, or if your church (and pastor) would like to plan a trip with me in 2016, I will be happy to have you along! You can find all the details on the “Biblical Israel Tours” web site for every upcoming trip (scheduled now through April… with the June, 2016 being confirmed this week!)
A life-transforming experience awaits!