Holy Land Report by Pastor Mark

In November 2017, 94 of us journeyed to the Holy Land for an amazing 10-day spiritual adventure! Starting in Joppa, we made our way throughout Israel for an impacting combination of Biblical sights; pausing to reflect in God's Word, worshiping through prayer and praise, and enjoying fellowship with one another. Many wonder whether it's safe to travel to Israel. We found God's hand of blessing and protection upon us everywhere we went! At every turn, God had fresh opportunities and wonderful surprises in store. We're pictured here on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem and the city's Eastern (Golden) Gate.

The stories of the Bible come alive as you walk where Jesus ministered, and sense God's miraculous hand of favor upon this small but mighty land. This blustery afternoon found our group atop the hills of Nazareth. Looking down upon the countryside in all directions, it's awe-inspiring to see this place which God chose to have His Son grow up. We broke the piggy bank to take along our kids, knowing this would be a spiritually life-impacting trip. So many special places with so many special people - Caesarea Maritime, Mt. Carmel, Capernaum, Caesarea Philippi, the shepherds fields of Bethlehem, and on and on! Our special thanks to Shalom Almog, president of Coral Tours, who gave his personal testimony as we listened in the Golan Heights, overlooking the Syrian border. And who can forget Gail's camel ride?

A quick snapshot of Cheri and I as we sailed on the Sea of Galilee - what a beautiful time of being led in worship by Abie Perkins, as he balanced a keyboard and mic on the high seas! Enjoy a video of part of our worship by clicking below. We were so thankful to have Pastor Jim and Chris with us on the journey, who are pictured in this video attachment.

< Video of Worship on Sea of Galilee - click here >

A personal favorite was praying at the Western Wall. There's something profoundly moving about standing there in the City of God, at the ancient wall of Jerusalem, publicly spending time alone with the Lord in prayer. This is the most well-known outdoor place of worship in our world. That same evening, we returned to tour the underground Rabbinical tunnel, which extends far below the city streets to the very base of the same Western Wall.

< Video of the Rabbinical Tunnel - click here >

What a special time praising God together as Pastor Jim and I baptized 44 of our church family & friends in the Jordan River. The "Yardenit" baptismal site is located just below the Sea of Galilee, providing changing rooms and easy access into the water which still flows today, even as Jesus was baptized and prepared for His earthly ministry.

The Dead Sea is breath-taking, located at the lowest point (below sea level) on earth. It was the perfect place to recharge our batteries (literally and also figuratively) and enjoy a special Thanksgiving dinner banquet together. Nearby sites that we visited included Masada by cable-car and Qumran, the archeological site of the discovered Dead Sea Scrolls. You don't need a boat to enjoy this body of water - just lean back and float, float, float!

At the Garden Tomb, we celebrated Communion together under a soft-sprinkling rain, considering what it must have been like to visit the empty tomb on that first Easter morning. The site considered as Golgotha also looms in the background, making this a powerful highlight of our final day together, thinking upon Jesus' time on earth and all He did for us!

< Video of our Group at the Garden Tomb - click here >

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you."  Psalm 122:6