Walk Where Jesus Walked: The Best of Israel Tour - Geneva College
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Walk Where Jesus Walked: The Best of Israel Tour

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Nearly two years ago I stood at a gate in the Pittsburgh airport, just hours before I would begin what would easily become one of the most memorable of all my Christmas vacations as a Geneva student. As my first international trip, I was beyond excited to travel to Israel and Egypt with the Bible Department. Joined by three professors, a handful of my peers, alumni, and friends of the college, I had the opportunity to engage with so many new and familiar people. I made new friendships and memories that I still hold today.

Geneva at the Dome of the RockLooking back, the trip really seemed like a whirlwind. We arrived in Tel Aviv and were greeted by Pilgrim Tours. Our guide, David Tal, would travel with us and provide information and personal stories at each of the sites we visited. Many of the places we went were familiar, at least in name such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Jericho, yet to see them in person brought a new dimension and understanding to familiar scripture passages. One of my favorite memories of the two-week adventure was a boat ride on Lake Galilee. Sitting on the water, singing worship songs, and viewing the scenery where the majority of the gospel stories took place was truly an unexplainable experience. To walk in the places where Jesus walked, gives one a close-up look at scripture that cannot be achieved in the comfort of one's own home. Others such as Masada, Be’er Sheva, and the Golan Heights were less familiar to me, but brought new insight and history. While not all the sites had a direct scriptural connection, they all provided historical context that spoke into the culture and times.

Geneva sifting archaeologyOne of the benefits about touring Israel is the size of the country itself. One can travel from the north to the south in a total of about nine hours. We began in the north and worked our way southward. This style allowed us to maximize our actual touring time and also experience many places while there. Our hotel the first couple nights was right along Lake Galilee and one towards the end allowed us to walk down to the Dead Sea. There was also a hotel pool that was filled by water piped in from the Dead Sea. That water was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had. We wore our sandals in because the salt crystals were so large it was painful to step on them barefoot. Once about waist deep, the density of the water literally caused my legs to swing out from under me and I was floating in the water.

After long days of touring and exploring, the evenings were often spent at the hotel for large buffet style dinners and good conversation. As is often the case, some of the more personal conversations occurred over food. We were able to compare our thoughts and debrief from the day’s activities. As a student, I was able to get to know the professors on a very different level than in the classroom.

We were encouraged to keep a journal of each day of the wonderful two-week experience. As I read back through the notes I took, I realize how much was jampacked into such a short period of time. We heard devotionals from various people in our tour group at different sites and God’s presence was so evident while there. As I walked the Via Dolorosa (The Way of Suffering), I was walking the very path Christ walked from Palm Sunday to the crucifixion. As I stood in the remains of the oldest city in the world, Jericho, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness in delivering the city into the hands of the Israelites thousands of years ago. As I scooped water from the Jordan River, I was reminded that Christ is the living water. It was indeed the trip of a lifetime and my faith will forever be changed because of it.

Geneva College invites students, alumni and friends to The Best of Israel Tour in December 2021 and January 2022. Led by Geneva College Bible Department professors Dr. Byron Curtis, Dr. Scott Shidemantle and Dr. Jonathan Watt, participants will travel to Israel, see firsthand some of the places where Jesus walked and taught, and explore important geographic and archaeological sites. There’s an optional Jordan extension available, too. Learn more at geneva.edu/israel.

-Bekah Locke ‘20


Photos courtesy of Dr. Scott Shidemantle. Main photo: Bekah Locke (left) and other students on the Arbel Cliffs, overlooking the Sea of Galilee

Opinions expressed in the Geneva Blog are those of its contributors and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official position of the College. The Geneva Blog is a place for faculty and contributing writers to express points of view, academic insights, and contribute to national conversations to spark thought, conversation, and the pursuit of truth, in line with our philosophy as a Christian, liberal arts institution.

Apr 22, 2021

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