10th August 2017

45 people came together from across the BUC and America on 23-30 July to walk in Jesus' footsteps. Led by Pastor Anthony Fuller, SEC Youth director, and Pastor O Chackochen, the Bible was brought to life. 

The stories many have read repeatedly, were put into context and almost made tangible as we walked the streets of Galilee, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. A relaxing holiday this was not, as the 6:00 am wake-up call and early 7:30 am start meant that many sites could be visited each day.

Just like Jesus, we too 'crossed over to the other side' as we sailed the Sea of Galilee; we stood on top of Mount Carmel and pictured what it must've been like when Elijah called on God and fire came from heaven. We reflected at Jericho where the walls crumpled at a shout. We waded the water in Hezekiah's tunnel and ended at the Pool of Siloam, where a blind man was made to see. We visited Calvary, floated on the Dead Sea, walked in the Garden of Gethsemane, and caught a glimpse of many things that we could have previously only imagined.

As informative as everything was, this was also a chance to reflect and connect with God. Pastor Paul Graham, shared a daily devotion and evening worship service. Words of hope, encouragement and new insight was given into well-known scriptures, which can never be looked at in the same way. This wasn't just be a trip, but a life-changing experience. This was holyland-grouphighlighted when eleven were baptised in the River Jordan. There was nothing 'magical' about the water, but the presence of God could be felt during the service. Despite standing in 30-degree heat, the service was poignant, moving and emotional for many. 

Sabbath was certainly a delight as we heard and gave the 'Shabbat Shalom' greeting, and the streets of Jerusalem were quiet as Jews headed to the synagogue. Whilst we took communion at the Garden Tomb, we heard singing in Portuguese from our neighbours. We didn't understand the words but recognised the tune. As they sung, We Have this Hope, Pastor Paul Graham stopped his sermon and ran over in excitement to find they too were Adventists. Pastor Magdiel PĂ©rez Schulz, Assistant to General Conference President Ted Wilson, explained the group of Presidents were visiting from the South American Division and were visiting 26 missionaries which the Division had paid to go to the holy-land-4Middle East, to minister to them.

Joining them was one of the Associate Vice Directors of the White Estate, Alberto Timm, and the Director of the Biblical Research Institute from the General Conference. We joined together and sang the well-known hymn in Spanish, Portuguese and English, hugged and prayed as many of us imagined that this is a little of what heaven will be like.

Some of the comments by those who attended describes the wonderful experience:

"I now read my bible with a new out look and can't wait to re-read the stories again." - Charlene Clarke

"One of the best trips I've ever been on. Informative, interesting, mind blowing and a chance to experience the Bible in 3D. It has certainly encouraged me to read my Bible more." - Javinia Harris

"I laughed and I cried; it was a beautiful visit. The things I experieBAPTISMAL-CANDIDATESnced can never be taken away from me." - Leona Reid

"Since returning we've been more hungry to study the bible." - Verbena Newyear

"It was a life changing experience for me and my 15yr old daughter. I have been raving about the spiritual renewal and bible insights gained." - Chouna Smith

"It was well organised; the trip brought the Bible to life. I am happy that we got to visit so many places." - Sonya Simms

Romans 15:4 states that "...everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." This was certainly evident on this trip to the Holy Land. The journey was a chance to make new friends, restore faith in God, strengthen the Christian walk and learn more about the Man who loved us so much He died to save us. Israel 2017 has reignited a passion for reading the Bible and will never be forgotten.

Pastor Chackochen who led the tour commented at the end, "since being back home, people have asked me what were the highlights of the trip? for me there were so many, I couldn't give a quick answer. Not only did I get to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, but I got to see places where many of our Patriarchs and Prophets stood, and I gained good friends along the way. All of us on this Israel 2017 trip are looking forward to the next chapter, for a deeper, devotional experience and closer friendships. Will you be on the next trip? I highly recommend it!"

The next trip to Israel led by Pastor Chackochen will be 11-18 February 2018. Contact 07748 417 460 /

[Javinia Harris]

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