10th August 2017
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 highlighted 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 Pérez 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 Middle East, to minister to them.