On Tuesday 6th March, 99 readers of our magazine gathered at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport for PSi’s first-ever trip to Israel. Almost 50% came from Canada and the USA and the rest from the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand – truly an international group drawn together by a love for the Lord and His word, and anxious to walk where He walked during His sojourn here on earth. The youngest was 9 years old and the eldest was 91! The arrangements for our trip were made by Thompson International in Northern Ireland, and Travex in Jerusalem, and we were assisted by the Israeli Embassy in London who arranged for an Israeli government member to speak to us, and regularly checked up on us during the trip to make sure we were safe and well. We stayed in 4- and 5-star hotels in Tel Aviv, Tiberias, and Jerusalem and all meals and tips to guides, drivers and hotel staff were included in the price.
We visited many of the usual sites and some less-visited ones. The latter included Wadi Hamam (a peaceful place on the Jesus Trail), The Peace Vista (from where there is a wonderful view of the whole of the Lake of Galilee), and a visit to soldiers in the Golan Heights, where we were able to chat, sit in their Humvees, and even to handle their weapons. These were very young men doing a very difficult job – their commander was 21 years of age! They spoke English fluently and were interested in our group and why we were in Israel.
Other popular sites visited included Joppa, Banias, Ein Gedi, Caesarea, and Capernaum. We sailed, sang and read the scriptures on Lake Galilee, and in Jerusalem we visited the Mt. of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane (in a very quiet and private part), the Wailing Wall, the Western Wall Tunnels, Herodion, the Israel Museum, the Shrine of the Book, the Garden Tomb, and many other places including the Holocaust Museum. Later, we went to Qumran, and Masada, and had a float at a beautiful and comfortable place in the Dead Sea, farther to the south than tours normally go. The weather was excellent, except for one day which was very windy. A week before we arrived there had been snow in Jerusalem and while we were there terrorists fired over 400 rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. Exciting days!
Each evening in Tiberias we had a meeting after dinner, and our speakers included George Khalil (the Nazareth assembly), Jim Comte, who spoke of his work in Ontario, and Stan Farmer on the setting up of ‘His Mansion’, a ministry in the USA to rehabilitate drug, drink, and sex addicts, and to point them to the Lord. One evening we went to the Hot Springs at Hamat Gader and bathed there for some time. They really are hot!
Lunches ranged from a top hotel in a Dead Sea resort through to a picnic at Banias to an Arab restaurant in the Old City of Jerusalem. The food throughout was excellent.
In Jerusalem our speakers were Meno Kalisher, on Messianic Jews, Victor Kalisher, on the Israeli Bible Society, Dr. Gabriel Barkay, the world-famous archaeologist, on the history of Jerusalem, and Bahig Mansour, who combines the roles of Israel’s Ambassador to Nigeria and heads up the Religious Affairs Department of the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Each evening throughout the tour there was a word of ministry shared by various brethren on the trip. On the Lord’s Day half of our number remembered the Lord in the assembly in Nazareth, and the other half in the small assembly in Jerusalem. We had wonderful times in both and many tears were shed there. It was a pleasure to meet Mary Kilbride in Jerusalem and the Arab believers in Nazareth and to enjoy their fellowship.
We purchased from the Israel Bible Society five copies of their recently published Hebrew Cross-Reference Bible and gave one to each of our guides and one each also to Dr. Barkay and to Bahig Mansour. They were all graciously received and one of the guides wrote, ‘I was deeply touched by your gift of the Bible and will certainly use it extensively’.
We set out to deliver a high-quality tour with the best hotels and guides, to miss out on churches, and so called ‘holy sites’, and to visit some off-the-beaten-track areas. Our guests believe we did that and more, and some have expressed a wish to book up now for the next tour. When will that be? Perhaps May or October 2013, DV. If you are interested in joining us then do let me know ASAP as we plan to restrict the numbers to 50 people.
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