Frequently Asked Questions about the Ministry of Biblical Israel Tours:
FAQ’s RELATED TO LIFE-CHANGING TRIPS TO ISRAEL:
- HOW LONG HAVE YOU PERSONALLY BEEN LEADING TOURS? Being a former one-year archaeology & historical geography student in Jerusalem in the early 1980s, God has placed on the heart of Dr. DeLancey (Director of BIMT) to make it his full-time ministry to lead people on life-changing study tours of Israel and other lands of the Bible. To date, Dr. DeLancey has lead 54 Israel tours (many of these included extensions to Jordan and/or Egypt) and 7 Greece & Turkey tours. With so many “touristy” or basic tours out there, it has been our aim to offer more in-depth biblically-oriented tours that include sites not often visited by the average tourist groups that visit many churches and shop a lot. This ministry also crosses denominational lines. Simply put, there is no greater discipleship encounter and a way to grow in your faith than to see and experience Israel firsthand! Tours uniquely contain both an “informational” and spiritual “formational” discipleship orientation. Simply, trips are life-changing! (check out the Testimonial page!)
- HOW DO I SIGN UP & RESERVE MY SPOT ON ONE OF YOUR ISRAEL TRIPS? Registration for each tour can be done three ways. (1). The simplest and quickest way would be use the “on-line” registration. This link will take you directly to the web site of our Holyland travel agent, imagine Tours & Travel (They handle all the registration for each of my tours). This is a safe & secure way to place your $500 deposit instantly with your credit card and reserve your spot on this tour. When this new page opens, type in “DeLancey” in the box provided. Then simply click on the tour that interests you. (2). You may download the brochure and registration forms directly from the web page of the specific tour that you are considering. You may then complete the form and send it directly to imagine Tours & Travel along with your $500 deposit that reserves your spot on the tour. (3). You may also request a free “Israel information” packet from me by filling out the on-line “request tour information” or by calling me – 412-999-5697. Registration closes for each tour about 60 days prior to departure. Even if you choose to register on-line directly with imagine Tours & Travel, I will still be glad to send you an information packet.
(This link will take you directly to the web site of our Holyland travel agent, imagine Tours & Travel. This is a safe & secure way to place your $500 deposit instantly with your credit card and reserve your spot on this tour)
- IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO ISRAEL NOW GIVEN WHAT I HEAR ON THE NEWS? Our most recent Israel tour was in June, 2017. Once again and very predictably, there were absolutely no safety issues whatsoever. We even traveled during the end of Ramadan. We always continue to have every group return with wonderful experiences. Read some testimonials on safety. Your safety is our highest priority. Don’t allow the “sensationalized news” and caring but “under-informed” friends and family members convince you that you are a “sitting target” in Israel. That’s simply not the case. By the way, according to the Israel Tourism Commission, tourism from January – June, 2017 from the U.S. to Israel is up 20%. This is a sure sign that more and more people know that travel to Israel is safe.
- WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE DAY LOOK LIKE? On most mornings, we try to board our private bus between 7:30 – 7:45 a.m., depending on the day. Our buses are deluxe motor coaches, complete with free wifi now, making the trip comfortable for traveling to the numerous sites we’ll see together. Most of the day we are on and off the bus at biblical and archaeological sites. Each day includes a lunch stop, usually a quick 45 minute stop. The itineraries of all my Israel tours are unique, for they feature sites that most groups do not see. In certain ways, our trips resemble a “Ray Vanerlaan – style” (“That the World May Know” Bible-study series) “discipleship” encounters. We end the day in the late afternoon in time for dinner. While most Christian Israel tours only include partial days of sight-seeing and a lot of traditional sites and churches and shopping, our tours are highly biblically-oriented. After dinner, optional gatherings or walks are offered, for those who just can’t get enough! Bottom line -we offer some of the most extensive Israel trips of anyone!
- HOW MUCH WALKING DOES EACH DAY INCLUDE? We always tell people that that they can do as much of any site as they wish. At most sites, we enter and leave from the same location. Almost each site has rest-rooms that we use when needed. Dr. DeLancey includes optional walks & hikes at a number of sites (e.g. hiking up Mt. Arbel, walking down the Snake Path at Masada, hiking up the far rim of the Zin Desert, exploring Cave 1 at Qumran, hiking down Mt. Hermon, etc…). Each trip is operated like a Ray Vander Laan study-discipleship tour (“That the World May Know“) with these walking and hiking options but not to the extreme. Optional night walks, particularly in Jerusalem, are offered after dinner. These include walks to the Western Wall, Ben Yehuda, and the Promenade, to name a few destinations.
- WHEN I AM IN ISRAEL, CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW OUR TOUR? While on tour, Dr. DeLancey takes the time each night to update the web site with both text and photos. No other tour leader or agency does this. This allows your friends and loved ones to follow our daily experiences on-line. It’s also an opportunity for your loved ones to pray for us and rejoice with us in our experiences. It’s also a great way to review the entire tour when you get home!
- AM I RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING A VISA? For entrance into Israel, US citizens do not need travel visas for citizens traveling from the States. If you choose a Holyland tour that includes another country (Jordan, Egypt, Turkey), a group visa is included in the price and secured beforehand. This results in easier transfers and passage between Israel and Jordan. Those joining the tour from other world countries will need to secure your own travel visas.
- WHAT IS THE PRICE OF YOUR TOURS? Pricing for group travel is actually quite competitive, providing the best way to see the lands of the Bible. All tours offer early bird discounts ($50-150). Deposits ($500 for each tour) can be made with a credit card, making it an easy process. All our tours include in the price the US departure taxes and fuel surcharges (presently around $650-700), as well as trips (that Dr. DeLancey handles on your behalf for the entire group, $150 range, depending on the tour). Pricing also includes hotels and two daily meals, as well as all hotel taxes and service charges. For those wanting to join the tour from other countries, “land only” prices are listed for each tour. Please know that when you are comparing tour companies and packages by price, all of our tours are the most in-depth and biblical offered vs. simply more “traditional” tours that go to many traditional sites and/or churches.
- WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED ON THE TOURS? Not included are lunches (45 minute stops averaging $10-11), soft drinks at meals, and items of personal nature. Because the tour pricing is based on double-occupancy, a single supplement charge is assessed for those wanting to room alone. If you are traveling alone, we will do our best to match you with an appropriate roommate. Price for the single supplement varies, depending on the number of nights. To save a little on lunches, some folks bring granola bars and snacks to eat for lunch. This is a way to save a few bucks! We eat a LOT for breakfast and dinner.
- WHAT ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE? Due to recent changes within the insurance industry, we have been notified of significant changes to the group travel policy that we have been offering to travelers. You can still purchase travel insurance on your own. There is a link on the imagine Tours & Travel website (www.ittworld.com) to Travel Guard’s website so that you can conveniently compare individual plans and sign up for the one that best suits your needs. Should you wish to contact Travel Guard by phone, their toll-free number is 1-800-826-1300. We also ask that you reference our ARC number 127152 when purchasing via the phone.
- WHAT TRAVEL AGENCY DO YOU USE? The travel agency we exclusively use is imagine Tours & Travel. They specialized in Holyland travel and are the leading experts in the business! Every detail is taken care for you. To make it convenient, they can make your domestic connecting flight for you. Their phone number is 863-709-9208.
- WHAT KIND OF HOTELS ARE USED? Deluxe / First Class hotels (with twin bedded rooms with private bath) are used, all in walking distance of many areas to explore on your own. Each hotel offers two meals daily. Most hotels also have free wifi in the lobby.
- WHAT KIND OF FOOD CAN I EXPECT? Full buffet breakfasts and dinners are served daily. Breakfasts offer a wide range of dairy products, vegetables, breads, coffee, and tea. Dinners offer a variety of meat options, salads, soups, and desserts. For those who eat gluten-free foods only, there are plenty of safe choices for you as well. Overall, there is plenty of wonderful and amazing food to eat for everyone!
- CAN I RENT A PHONE OF ISRAELI SIM CARD ON THE TOUR? Yes you can. We have a special rental plan with an Israeli company called Talk-n-Save. You can either rent a cell phone, or get a data-plan package. Here you have the option of getting an Israeli SIM card (your phone needs to be unlocked, or getting a “Hot-spot” device that sends out a wifi signal anywhere in Israel. Click HERE to go the Talk-n-Save web site dedicated to my trips. You can use Sincerely Ink as a slick and easy way of sending personalized postcards. Click HERE for further information. They also have a very slick “phone app” where you can create a card right from your phone.
- WHAT RESOURCES CAN I GET TO HELP ME PREPARE FOR THE TOUR? For each passenger (or couple), a complementary copy of my book, Devotional Treasures from the Holy Land, is mailed to you about 60 days prior to departure. The book includes an archaeological, historical, and geographic background of all the sites, blended into a devotional application. Other resources are available on the Resources page on this web site. These include a number of PDF files. Feel free to download and print!
- WHO ARE THE GUIDES WHO ARE USED? Personally, all of Dr. DeLancey’s Israel Tours use an Israeli named Shlomo Ben-Asher, a renown tour guide of more than 25 years as my private guide. Shlomo (Solomon) has a keen sensitivity to the goals and objectives of our trip together. He is a “wealth of information” and very personal, and a personal friend.
- ARE YOUR CHRISTIAN TOURS TO ISRAEL BIBLICALLY-BASED? YES…all of our tours are solidly biblical and evangelically oriented. Most who join us on my trips are from evangelical backgrounds, resulting in a wonderful time of fellowship. Dr. DeLancey leads group devotional times, with rich and life-changing spiritual worship experiences, inspiring your own walk with Christ. Most importantly, the Bible is read at every site, making the tour a “3D Bible study.” The context of the Bible will be encountered!
- WHAT IS THE SIZE OF THE GROUP? The average group size for most of Dr. DeLancey’s tours is around 25-45. This means the group would travel together on one bus. Occasionally on more popular tours, the group size can be potentially 45-70. For groups that are larger than 52 people, a second bus is used. When a second bus is required, Dr. DeLancey offers teaching at many sites for both buses, as well as spends time in each bus. Traveling with two buses still works quite well since “head-set systems” are used during the trip.
- IF WE WANTED TO TRAVEL AS OUR OWN CHURCH GROUP, IS THIS POSSIBLE? Yes, private tours for your own church group are possible to arrange. We would be happy to help you organize a private Holy Land tour for your church or Bible study group. All you would need to do is to choose a date and itinerary. Depending on the size of your private group, this would include bringing your pastor along complementary (it’s a great way to minister to your pastor!). Please contact me about the possibilities.
- WHAT IS A “PHYSICAL SETTINGS” SEMINAR? A “Physical Setting” seminar is specifically geared for churches, Christian High Schools, colleges, and seminaries. A seminar provides biblical education focused on teaching the physical settings of the Bible (e.g. “Physical Theology”). This includes the unique teaching of biblical archaeology, historical geography, and the cultural context of the Bible. Seminars for churches include 5 hours of multi-media presentations. At the academic level “Physical Theology” classes are offered at the Christian high school, college, and seminary level. All teaching uniquely contain both an “informational” and spiritual “formational” discipleship encounter.
- HOW DO CHURCHES SCHEDULE A “PHYSICAL SETTINGS” SEMINAR FOR OUR CHURCH? Scheduling a seminar for your church can be done by contacting Dr. DeLancey. Seminars are usually best offered on a weekend (e.g. Friday night – Saturday noon format). A Sunday format (with preaching included) can also be arranged. This would include preaching and approximately 3 hours of teaching.
- WHAT IS THE COST TO HOST A “PHYSICAL SETTINGS” SEMINAR FOR OUR CHURCH? The suggested cost of a weekend that includes 5 hours of teaching is $750, plus travel expenses. The cost for a Sunday format (preaching, and 3 hours of teaching) is a suggested $600.00, plus travel expenses. An entire weekend (5 hours of teaching, and preaching) is $1,000, plus travel expenses.
- WHAT IS THE TEACHING FORMAT FOR SCHOOLS? Christian colleges and seminaries can arrange specific classes for academic credit through an adjunct contract. “Physical Theology” classes can vary in length, dependent on the level of course credit. If a study tour of Israel is arranged and scheduled through us, a “pre-trip” preparatory class can be arranged.
- WHAT IS THE COST FOR HAVING A “PHYSICAL SETTINGS” CLASS FOR OUR SCHOOL? For Christian high schools, a 3 hour “guest lecture” would cost $400.00, plus travel expenses. For colleges and seminaries, cost would be determined by the length of the course and the school’s adjunct professor policies.
- WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A “PHYSICAL SETTINGS” SEMINAR OR CLASS? Generally-speaking, “physical settings” of the Bible is not taught in churches or schools, yet it provides indescribable insights into the Bible. This teaching will allow the student of the Bible to see and understand the biblical text in “3-Dimensions.” It will bring new and unique insights into the study of the Bible. It provides an amazing opportunity for people (especially those who physically or financially cannot) to “visit Israel” even without leaving the church. The Word of God comes alive in life-transforming ways. Studying the Bible “in context” will inspire one’s walk of faith.
TOP 10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER AN ISRAEL TRIP:
10. You will gain an understanding of modern Israel. Many do understand the politics of the region because they don’t understand both the culture and layout of the land.
9. You will be exposed to different languages. You may even learn a few short phrases in both Hebrew and Arabic. Here are a few important and usable phrases: “Toda” (Hebrew for “thank you), “Shucran” (Arabic for “thank you”), “Shalom” (Hebrew for “hello, goodbye”), “A-fo she-ru-tim” (Hebrew for “Where is the bathroom.”).
8. You will be able to eat a falafel. A falafel is the Israeli form of the American hamburger, however, it is vegetarian. Made with chick-peas fried in balls, stuffed in pita bread along with salads, humus, and/or tahini, it makes for the perfect lunch. You just may have the opportunity to eat a few over the course of a tour.
7. You will gain new friends. By the end of our first full day, our traveling group will become your traveling family. Without fail, each tour participant will enjoy the fellowship of one another. By the end of the tour, one of the hardest parts of returning home will be to say goodbye.
6. You will discover and understand the different regions of Israel. Most peoples’ perception of Israel is that it’s one vast desert. While a few regions (e.g. the Negev, the Judean Wilderness) are rocky and barren, this small country about the size of New Jersey has various regions unique from others. You will notice the topography changes from south to north and everything in between.
5. You will learn about biblical archaeology. A “tel” is an ancient mound that results from the accumulation of levels of civilization one on top of the other over the centuries and even millennia of time. Some “tels” have upward to 2 dozen levels of ruins (e.g. Megiddo). Other sites being still being excavated (e.g. Gezer). Biblical archaeology is the science that will connect you to the ancient past. Through archaeology, you will see and understand how people lived.
4. You will have a new-found appreciation for biblical history. For those growing up in the States, we think that something that is 200+ years old is old. Not so in Israel. Everywhere you see, you are touching history. The history of the Bible comes alive in ways that are indescribable. All the stories from the OT as well as from the life and ministry of Christ in the Gospels can now be read in their very context.
3. You will be able to “connect the dots” of the Bible, causing the Bible to “come alive.” Part of my role as a tour leader is to help people “connect the dots.” This many include helping people realize the distances between cities and towns mentioned in the Bible. This also may include connecting the culture of the Bible with the biblical narrative. You will be able to begin to connect the dots of the Bible using historical geography and archaeology. Learning the context of the Bible will allow the Bible to come alive with “3-D color,” as I like to say.
2. Your heart will be blessed in indescribable ways, inspiring your walk of faith. Traveling to Israel just isn’t about learning about the Bible. Your heart will be touched too. As we read the stories of faith about David, Gideon, Samson, Samuel, and Hezekiah from the OT, or about the life and ministry of Christ and all of those he touched, God will speak to your heart. Or to put it this way, a trip to Israel isn’t just about information, but rather formation. God will pull at your heart so that your walk of faith is inspired.
1. Your life will be change forever! The primary purpose of why God calls you and provides for you to experience Israel firsthand is that He wants you to walk closer to Him! This is why a trip to Israel is indeed a “journey of a lifetime.” In the words of Billy Graham, “Traveling to Israel is much more than site-seeing … it is an experience.” It is a life-transforming experience! Hands down, traveling to Israel is the greatest discipleship encounters a follower of Christ can ever experience. Traveling to Israel will not only anchor your faith deeper in Christ, but will also propel your walk of faith to greater heights!
So if you are a pastor who has never been to Israel, you need to seriously consider a trip as a “continuing educational” experience. If you are a lay person in your church, or a new believer in Christ, a trip to Israel is the very best spiritual investments you can ever give to yourself. I have a host of people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s who say to me after experiencing a tour, “Wow Pastor John, I wish I would have taken this trip 30-40 years ago.” It’s never too late reap the benefits!