Day 1: Departure from the USA
Our adventure begins with an overnight flight to Tel Aviv.
Day 2: Arrival in Israel, Jaffa, Mediterranean Coast
The adventure begins! We arrive at Ben Gurion Airport and go on to Jaffa for an orientation to the land and stretch our legs walking through Jaffa’s artists’ quarter. Here Peter had a vision that led him to convert Cornelius (Acts 10) take the church’s mission to the Gentiles. Overnight our hotel in the Old Port of the city of Jaffa.
Day 3: Caesarea, Mount Carmel, Megiddo, Nazareth, Mount Arbel, Sea of Galilee
This morning, we follow in the footsteps of Paul as we make our way to Caesarea. With the conversion of Cornelius by St. Paul (Acts 10), this Roman city became the beachhead of the Christian mission to the Gentiles. We visit the ancient Herodian harbor, the remains of the seaside palace of Pontius Pilate, the theater and the aqueduct on the beach, where we can get our feet in the water. Continue to the altar of Elijah at Muhraka atop Mount Carmel. Looking out over the Valley of Jezreel, we remember how Elijah called down the fire and we too say: “the LORD, He is God!” (1 Kings 18:39). Continue to Megiddo, the ancient Tel and future site of the battle of Har-Megiddo or Armageddon (Revelations 16). See the walls of Solomon and the impressive 8th-Century B.C. water tunnel. We drive across the Valley of Jezreel to Nazareth, where we will stop for a lookout over the town and visit the church of Mary’s Well. Continue to the cliff of Mount Arbel, where we’ll help each other down the Cliffside (scary but safe!) to the Sea of Galilee. Overnight at a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee.
Day 4: Sea of Galilee: Boat Ride, Capernaum, Tabgha, Mount of Beatitudes, Caesarea Philippi, Jordan River – Baptism and Rafting
We start early, boarding a wooden boat for Ginnosar – sailing in the footsteps of Jesus! We drive to Capernaum to see the house of Peter and the synagogue where Jesus preached and cast out demons (Mark 1). Continue to Tabgha, visiting the Church of Loaves and Fishes marking Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the Five Thousand (Mark 6:30-44). We then drive up the hill to the Mount of Beatitudes to reflect on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Onward to the foothills of Mount Hermon and the headwaters of the Jordan at Banias – Caesarea Philippi, where Peter acknowledged Jesus as Messiah (Matthew 16:13-28). Climb to the cave and the remains of the pagan temples of Roman times. We drive a few miles down the road to the Jordan River, where we will board rubber dinghies to raft down the Jordan (seasonal conditions permitting)! Hallelujah!
Day 5: Baptismal Site on the Jordan, Jericho, Qumran, Ein Gedi, Dead Sea
We leave the Sea of Galilee and travel to the Jordan River baptismal site, where we will have the chance to be baptized. Descending the Jordan Valley, we pass Mount Gilboa, where King Saul and his sons were slain in battle, and head down the Jordan Valley to Jericho, the world’s oldest city, climbing the Tel to view the ancient towers and the Mount of Temptation, marking Jesus’ temptation by Satan in the wilderness (Luke 4). We travel down the Dead Sea coast to visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were written and hidden in a cave until their discovery by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947. We then continue on to the desert oasis of Ein Gedi. See the ibex and conies and cool off under the rushing waterfall. Here David and his men took refuge from Saul (1 Samuel 24). In the late afternoon, float in the Dead Sea. Overnight at the Masada youth hostel.
Day 6: Masada, Mount of Olives, City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel
This morning, we get up before dawn to climb the winding Snake Path up to the top of the plateau of Masada. We arrive in time for Sunrise over the Dead Sea – an unforgettable experience! View Herod’s palaces, the Roman siege ramp, the water system and the synagogue of the Zealots who chose death by suicide rather than slavery to the Romans. After a shower and breakfast, we traverse the Judean Desert to arrive at the Mount of Olives, with its breath-taking view of the Old City of Jerusalem. We go down the traditional Palm Sunday Road, to the Church of Dominus Flevit (Luke 19) and reflect on Jesus’ weeping over the city. We continue to the City of David, site of the earliest buildings of Jerusalem. Explore Warren’s Shaft and the system of water tunnels. Walk through knee-high water in Hezekiah’s Tunnel, built 2,700 years ago to resist the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32). An amazing feat of engineering! Then check into our Jerusalem hotel to rest.
Day 7: Western (Wailing) Wall, Temple Mount, Ophel Ridge, St. Peter in Gallicantu, Upper Room, Yad Vashem
We begin at the Western (Wailing) Wall, the remnant of the Temple in which Jesus preached and a holy place for Jews from all over the world. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll see Bar Mitzvah services! We continue to the Temple Mount, viewing the Muslim Dome of the Rock, built on the site of the Second Temple. We then walk down to the Ophel Ridge, to stand on the very steps that Jesus and his disciples often walked on their way to the Temple. Then to Mount Zion to visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, where Jesus may have been questioned before the High Priest Caiaphas, and see the Upper Room, the traditional site of the Last Supper. Crossing the New City of West Jerusalem, we visit Yad Vashem, the museum and memorial to the Holocaust. We’ll see films of survivor testimony, and appreciate the struggle of victims and survivors to maintain their human dignity. This evening we will hear from an Israeli spokesman on the current situation in the Holy Land and the prospects for peace in the future.
Day 8: Bethlehem, Shepherds’ Field, Voluntourism with local students
This morning, we travel to the Shepherds’ Fields to rejoice over the glad tidings of the birth of Jesus and remember the faith of Ruth who gathered grain nearby. We then return to Bethlehem to visit the 5th-century Church of the Nativity and make a stop for olive wood souvenir shopping. This afternoon and evening we will join a group of local Christian students and youth, learn about their lives, participate in a building or teaching activity (painting, cleaning, practicing English), and have dinner or go out together. This is an opportunity to learn about how real people live in Israel/Palestine today and offer thanks for all this land has given us.
Day 9: Gethsemane, Pools of Bethesda, Via Dolorosa, Holy Sepulchre, Tomb of the Kings, Garden Tomb, Tel Aviv, and the Mediterranean
We begin this morning at the Garden of Gethsemane (Aramaic for ‘oil press’), meditating on the sorrow of Jesus the night before his judgment (Luke 21). In the garden are olive trees thought by some to be 2000-years old! We cross the Kidron Valley and see the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the man paralyzed for 38 years (John 5) and sing in the adjoining Crusader Church of St. Anne. Good singers – this church will make you sound great! We then proceed up the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Next, we will creep into a large, intact rolling-stone tomb of the 1st century, called the Tomb of the Kings. We conclude our voyage with a communion celebration at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. The tomb is empty! He is risen! Late this afternoon, we will drive down to Tel Aviv so you can cool out at the Mediterranean or enjoy an iced latte in the cafes of Tel Aviv, Israel’s hottest city.
Day 10: Depart for Home
We make our way to Ben Gurion airport for the flight home. Bet you can’t wait to tell your family and friends of all that God has done.
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