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Sharing the Holy Land & Planting Seeds

I believe a tiny seed was planted inside of me years ago when my parents visited the Holy Land and brought back a little bible just for me, with a cover made from Olive wood.  I’ve cherished it through the years, and although the cover is broken in two and the print is so small I can barely read it, I’ve held onto it because of where it came from.  What my parents did for me is what I hope to do for you – plant a little seed that will stick with you and grow into an interest and endearment for Israel too!

John & I in Jerusalem, overlooking the Old City on the Mount of Olives

As we looked across the valley toward the Old City of Jerusalem, we saw the oldest gate, the Eastern Gate, built in the 6th or 7th century AD. Jewish tradition holds that the Messiah would enter through a gate in the east, which Jesus did when He entered on a donkey (Matt. 21). Under Muslim rule, over 500 years ago, the gate was sealed shut to try to keep the Messiah from coming to rule. I believe He’s already come and will return one day!

Catholic churches are often built on top of holy sites. This is the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu to commemorate Peter’s denial, repentance, & reconciliation with Christ.

Remains of the road exiting the House of Caiaphas & likely the way that Jesus traveled toward His trial after being held in the dungeon cave.

Beside the House of Caiphas is the place where Peter denied Jesus three times. When Jesus returned after His crucifixion and resurrection, He restored Peter when He asked Him three times, “Do you love Me?”

Stairway leading into the dungeons under Caiaphas’ House.

The dungeons where our Lord Jesus was held before His trial.

On the Via Dolorosa – the way of the cross. We walked underneath a building in the Old City to get to a stone road left from the time of Yeshua.

Part of a main road that ran through the city during the time of Jesus. It is likely that He would have traveled this road on the way to His crucifixion.

Here we are at the Sea of Galilee – the waters that Jesus walked on!

The seashore was covered in seashells!

The Jewish Quarter inside the Old City

Sweets in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

A mezuzah, which holds Scripture, in a doorpost near the Upper Room. This Jewish tradition is based on biblical instruction given in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “…Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.”

View of the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, & the Western Wall – The site where Solomon’s Temple was built. The Jews believe the Western Wall is the closest they can get to the original temple where God’s Spirit dwelt within the Ark of the Covenant. The Muslim Dome of the Rock is located on the site now & Jews and Christians are not allowed to enter. We heard the Muslim call to prayer ring throughout the Old City.

We prayed, men on one side and women on the other, and added our prayer to the others within the wall.

On the men’s side of the Western Wall the men were required to cover their heads with a hat or a kippah. A Russian Orthodox Jew is on the left with the fur hat.

Praying at the Western Wall was so moving. The Jewish people consider this a place so holy that they back away from the wall after praying.

The Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth! John and I got in the Dead Sea with our friends and had the best time, even though it was cold and rainy. We floated around and found salt rocks and laughed a whole bunch!

Inside the Garden Tomb, one of the possible sites of Jesus’ burial.

Golgotha, or Place of the Skull, just outside of the Garden Tomb. John 19:17, “Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).”

John & I at the Capharnaum ruins of the Jewish Synagogue from the IV-V Century.

In Genesis Land with our friends after eating a meal in a tent. Riding camels was next!

Our baptism at the Jordan River – the water where Jesus was baptized by John. It was so meaningful to have our Pastor Wayne & Pastor Steve baptize us and help us signify the new life we have in Christ!

On a boat ride with our family : ) on the Sea of Galilee!

We sure enjoyed our trip to Israel and it was so special to be there with Governor Mike Huckabee and our pastors & church family. We experienced so many historical and biblical places, which made the stories from the Bible more real and meaningful to me! We came home with hearts full of cherished memories and a love for the nation of Israel.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you prosper. May there be peace inside your walls and safety in your palaces.’ For the sake of my relatives and friends I say to Jerusalem, ‘Peace be with you!’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God I pray for your prosperity.” ~Psalm 122:6-9

My heart is so full of our many joyful memories of Israel, the special place that God chose for His Son to live.  I keep thinking of a prayer that our guide and friend Yuval prayed as we started our day one morning.  He said, “Father, we don’t have enough ‘thank you’ to say.”  That’s how I feel – so full of thankfulness from experiencing the people of Israel, walking on the land where Jesus lived and changed lives; sometimes I would look out the window of the bus and imagine Him walking along the hills beside me.

What a treasure to experience the places that I’ve read about in Scripture and get to share them with you here.  I wish that I had something tangible to give you from Holy Land like the Olive wood crosses I brought back for our children, but I pray that the seeds shared within these notes and pictures will be like a gift for you.  I hope they’ll take root in your heart and keep growing!


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