Fam Trip to the Holy Land
In Tel Aviv, we proceed through customs and security and meet our guide who assists us to our motor coach to begin our fam trip. We drive to our hotel on the Sea of Galilee in time for dinner and overnight. This morning, we begin with a stop at the Biblical city of Nain, then proceed along the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo and then Mt. Carmel, where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). We then go to the sea coast to visit the ruins of Caesarea Maritima, where Peter proclaimed the Good News to the Roman Centurion (Acts 10). We’ll stop at a Druze Village for a lunch break (not included) before continuing to Nazareth for visits to the Church of the Annunciation, the Precipice, and the church with the springs of “Mary’s Well”. We return to Tiberias for dinner and overnight on the Sea of Galilee. It is certainly unique to watch a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee. After breakfast, on our fam trip we experience Jesus’ ministry around and on the Sea of Galilee. We visit the ruins of “cursed” Chorizim and Bethsaida, followed by a stop at Kursi, where Jesus healed the demoniac. We will then visit the Mount of Beatitudes Church (Matthew 5-7) before we walk down the hill to the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where we visit St. Peter’s Primacy Church (John 21) and “Church of the Loaves & Fishes”. We stop at Capernaum (Jesus’ base for His early ministry) before boarding a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” for our ride on the Sea of Galilee. We conclude our ministry tour with a visit to the developing Magdala archaeological site. Then we return to the hotel on the Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight.We begin our exciting day with a ride along the Sea of Galilee as we head to Gideon Springs at the base of Mt Gilboa, sight of Gideon’s selection of the army of 300. Next, we visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities. This is where King Saul and his sons’ bodies were hung on the city walls after their defeat by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10-12). We travel down the Jordan Valley to ancient Jericho to view the Biblical sites and lunch. As time allows we will visit the wonderful ministry, Seeds of Hope. then on our fam trip we visit Qasr el-Yahud, site of Elijah’s ascent to heaven and where John the Baptist ministered. Finally, we ascend “up to Jerusalem” stopping along the “Old Roman Road” for a look at “The Wilderness” (scene of the Good Samaritan) on our way to this “Holy City” in time for dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:1-2).
Did you know: A familiarization tour is an opportunity for clergy to experience Israel before returning with their own group!
Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ
After breakfast, on our fam trip we head toward Bethlehem, stopping first at Ramat Rachel, where we walk to a magnificent view of the Judean Wilderness, Bethlehem, Herodion and the fields of Ruth and Boaz. We next stop at “the Church of Mary’s Seat”, Kathisma, where tradition says Mary rested on her way to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus. We continue to Beit Sahour (Shepherd’s Field) and then to the Church of the Nativity. If possible, we will visit with Pastor Mitri Raheb or their staff, at Christmas Lutheran Church, to hear about their ministry. Our fam trip day ends with a visit to a wonderful Christian owned olive wood factory and souvenir store. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. Our day begins with a drive to the Wilderness. The road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea region is a decent of 4,000 feet in 13 miles. Our first stop on our fam trip is Masada, where we take a cable car up to the fortress built by King Herod. Here we see the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, the synagogue, temples, and palaces. Next, we drive to the oasis of En Gedi, where David hid from King Saul. A short drive on our fam trip takes us to Qumran, the first century settlement of the sect known as the Essenes, authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Afterwards, we follow the road south along the western shore of the Dead Sea (the lowest spot on earth) for a stop for a unique float in the Dead Sea. Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. We begin the day at the overlook on the Mt. of Olives to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage will proceed down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, and the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate, to walk the Via Dolorosa, including St. Anne’s Crusader Church, Pools of Bethesda, the Pavement (where Jesus stood while being tried by Pilate), Ecce Homo Arch, and the ancient Cardo. We continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Then on our fam trip, we proceed to the holiest site in the Jewish world, the Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod’s temple. We then take a special walk along the Rabbinical Tunnel. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David (2 Samuel 24:18-25). On this site now stands El-Aksa Mosque, and the magnificent Dome of the Rock (the third holiest shrine in Islam). Our afternoon concludes with a visit to the “Southern Steps”, where we stand on the original steps that Jesus walked on as he entered the Temple area. We will have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. In the evening, we have the option of visiting the Shrouds Exhibition, hosted in the Museum at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Center, or the Solomon’s Quarry.
Experiencing the Garden Tomb
The morning begins our fam trip with a visit to the Israel Museum which includes the Shrine of the Book (which hosts the Dead Sea Scrolls) and the Model City, a 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it appeared in Jesus’ time. Then we drive to the City of David, an incredible archaeological site of Old Testament Jerusalem. Our visit at the City of David ends with time at the Pool of Siloam. Then we visit Mount Zion to see the Upper Room and the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. We end our day with worship and communion and the Garden Tomb, the Valley of Elah, and a Farewell Dinner. We then transfer to Ben Gurion Airport for our flight back to the U.S.A. We arrive back in the U.S.A. in the morning. At the close of an unforgettable fam trip, we take home wonderful memories of the Old and New Testament, a renewal of our faith, and a greater understanding of the life of our Lord.