Pilgrimage. History. Oath. The food. Solidarity. The sights. Adventure. Religious intimations.
There are may reasons that people embark on a journey to "the Holy Land" — to Israel. There are also many reasons that people do not — danger, conflict, persecution.
I am going to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, from May 22 - June 3, 2015 and I want you to come with me. For me, it is an opportunity to travel with friends (new and old) and combine a tour experience with biblical education, devotional moments, and pertinent discussions about conflict and peace.
Israel and various sites in Palestine are holy to many, There are multiple motivations and many ways in which Jews, Muslims, Christians, and secular individuals hold the land, the monuments, and the culture in honor.
For Christians in particular, it is an honor and opportunity to step into the land of Scripture and see, touch, taste, and hear the environment from which their faith emerged and which, in many ways, continues to shape their religion today.
Educon Travel provides you with the opportunity to experience the cultures, art and history of the world in the most dynamic and inspirational ways imaginable. The trips are sometimes called pilgrimages, others call them faith-based tours, still others call them Bible tours or Christian tours. Regardless what title one gives them, however, their tours give you an inspirational, life-experience you’ll never forget!
This tour is particularly exciting for me, as I get to take part in the teaching and devotions and explore the land, its people, and culture with folks like you.
So, what are the details? Here is our TOUR SUMMARY:
- Days 1-5 Starting out from Tel Aviv, we’ll visit Jaffa, where St. Peter raised Tabitha from the dead, and Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged the false prophets. We’ll go to Megiddo, Jezreel and Nazareth, and we’ll celebrate the institution of marriage in Cana. We’ll visit Mt. of Beatitudes along with the other great sites of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. We’ll also explore Mt. Transfiguration, Tel Dan and Caesarea Philippi too.
- Days 6-7 On our way to Jordan we’ll see the great Old Testament sites, Jericho and Beit She’an. In Jordan, we’ll celebrate God’s grace in baptism at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan, where Jesus was baptized, and explore Mt. Nebo, where Moses saw the Promised Land. Before returning to Israel, we'll explore the ruins of Petra (think Indiana Jones).
- Days 8-12 Nearing Jerusalem we’ll visit the fortress of Masada, and we’ll also explore Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. With Jerusalem as our base we’ll explore the Old City, walking the Via Dolorosa, for example. We’ll also visit the sites around the Old City, like Mt. of Olives and City of David. In addition, we’ll visit the Holocaust Museum and the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. We’ll have a day trip to Hebron, home of the tombs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and we’ll also visit our Lord’s birthplace, Bethlehem.
- Day 13 You’ll fly home with your heart and mind full of memories or continue with the Sinai Extension!
Unique highlights of this trip include:
- An experienced tour guide and educator, Dr. Paul Steinbart from Hosanna Lutheran Church in Mesa, AZ and professor at Arizona State University
- Rev. Paul Frank and Rev. Ken Chitwood (that's me!) leading conversations, Bible studies and devotions.
- Elizabeth Chitwood (that's my wife!) leading music
- Discussion of archeological, historical, and cultural context for the sites we are visiting
- An opportunity to participate in an archeological dig
- Addressing pertinent issues in the Holy Land and benefiting the local economy through tourism
- A booklet put together by Dr. Steinbart, Rev. Frank, and Rev. Chitwood that is yours to keep, and refer to, for a lifetime
- Wedding vow renewal at Cana & baptism remembrance at "Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan."
- Comfortable, and unique, accommodations (we're staying in a castle...seriously)
- Fantastic food
- A really FUN group of people to travel with (c'mon, we'll make it tons of fun).
Despite the obvious, and awesome, benefits of going on such a trip, some are still concerned about safety, especially given recent conflict during Summer 2014. Others may feel that tourism reenforces oppression or supports terrorism and/or apartheid. Ultimately, considering these apprehensions, whether or not to go is an individual decision, but I rest assured that traveling to Israel and Jordan is both safe and advantageous. HERE is a link to a great article on safety, which included this critical outlook:
Furthermore, if you want to explore issues concerning the Middle East and conflict between Arabs, Palestinians, Israelis, Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. one of the best ways to do this is to visit the area, talk to locals, and engage in dialogue as a group to discuss the poignant issues from a perspective of participation and observation on-the-ground.
As a backpacker traveling in the area over the summer shared:
As I said, there are many worthwhile reasons you may want to come on this trip. I pray you will thoughtfully consider joining me, and others, on this trip in May to make the most out of our time together and add to those who are already signed up and ready to go!