Experiencing the Holy Land

June 29, 2012

By Brent Eldridge, Lead Pastor at First Baptist Church of Lakewood

Brent Eldridge in Israel

Destination vacations, fascinating tourist stops and points of interest are as diverse as they are numerous. We’ve all got places on the map we want to see, or visit or explore. There is ONE tiny stretch of land, however, that many believers relish the thought of experiencing first-hand…Israel.

Because we immerse ourselves in God’s word we are often eager to have the black and white (and red) in our Bibles spring to life. Fortunately, the land of the Bible is alive and intact. If you want to go and walk where Jesus walked…and visit the hometowns of the prophets…and trace the warpaths of the kings…and browse the fishing towns of the disciples, YOU CAN!

I grew up going to church, and decided up at Hume in the summer of 1990 to give my life to Christian ministry. I attended a Christian college, then seminary, and have been in full-time vocational ministry for 15 years. I’ve got LOADS of books and journals and magazines about the Holy Land—its history, its topography, and its features. I’ve heard people talk about it and try their best to explain just what it’s like. But all the while I had never seen it with my own eyes—live and in person.

That was then…

I was so thankful to be invited by Hume Lake via Rich Ferreira to take a whirlwind tour of Israel this past January. It was a trip formed with the intention of merging a conglomeration of youth pastors, Christian educators and camp directors. The 20 of us converged on LAX for a one-week (five days in country) barnstormer of a trip that began in Caesarea, took us up throughout Galilee and finished out in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas.

Israel Trip 2012

Some of what I saw was exactly the way I had pictured it in my mind (Megiddo, Sea of Galilee, Mount of Beatitudes, Mount of Olives, the Wailing Wall). Most of what I saw, however, blew my expectations straight out of the water (too many to put in parenthesis). I found myself looking around like a kid in a candy store. My Bible was brimming with new meaning. I’d read the name of a town that I had seen dozens of times in my Bible, but suddenly had a true picture of what it looked like burned into my mind. All the guys were snapping pictures or rolling video or just journaling the details. There were a lot of smiles and high fives and shaking heads of thankfulness because “ideas” of what things looked like were turning into “actual” pictures of the way things are.

In my opinion the greatest gift to leaders in ministry is to get to see the Bible first-hand. The fact that Hume Lake is finding ways to subsidize an experience like this and make it affordable, even for poor guys in ministry is truly amazing. I guarantee that there are 19 other guys besides myself who felt invested in and walked away changed and with a renewed passion for God’s word. If you don’t believe me then just ask the people in their congregations.


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