Local church members recently went on a trip to Israel to gain a new perspective on their faith and Biblical locations.
Imagine walking the same roads and paths that Jesus Christ walked more than 2,000 years ago.
That’s what a group of 51 members from Lifebridge Church had the chance to do recently during a 10-day trip to Israel.
The group returned Friday, Feb. 14, with plenty of stories and insights. Chris Cobb, the discipleship pastor at the Windermere church, said the theme of the trip was to understand the heart of God’s people and think about the mission God has for their lives.
The group left Tuesday, Feb. 4, and arrived in Tel Aviv. Over the next eight days, the group traveled in a large circle across the region. They traveled to numerous sites, including Beth Shemesh, where the story of Samson took place, and Azekah, which overlooks the Valley of Elah — the historic site where David defeated Goliath the Philistine.
Members of the group also swam in the Dead Sea, got baptized in the Jordan River and sailed across the Sea of Galilee — where Jesus walked on water, according to the Bible.
Other highlights included Bethlehem, Jerusalem and two sites where scholars believe Jesus was crucified and buried.
“There’s discrepancies of which place is the right place, but we got to go to both places they believe,” Cobb said.
“Whether he was crucified and buried at one place or the other, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “The important thing to remember is that he’s not there anymore. Jesus is not in the grave, he has risen again.”
Among the tour group was Jim Moran, who’s been attending Lifebridge Church for two years. He said he enjoyed how the trip bridged the gap between archaeology and the Bible.
“This was a study with massive preparation by the leadership team and the tour people to really bring education to people instead of just a vacation,” said Jim Moran, who took the trip with his wife, Judy.
One of the most powerful moments during the trip for Jim Moran came toward the end of the trip, he said.
“We started the morning off at the Mount of Olives, and then we walked over to Gethsemane and (Pastor) Ralph (Howe) did a teaching there, and then we had communion,” he said. “Just being there, taking the time to really understand what was going on at the time and what Jesus was going through and his thoughts and then having communion and taking that time to reflect … that was a really strong period of time for me throughout the whole trip.”
Jim Moran said he’s glad that he made the trip with his wife.
“It did bring a new perspective by physically being there, by seeing it,” he said. “It added support to what I already knew to be true.”
Cobb said he hopes the group walked away with the perspective that the stories in the Bible are true and that these were real places and real people.
“People get to go to Israel and see all these Biblical sites and see how true they are,” Cobb said. “When people experience that, it’s going to really raise the spiritual temperature of the church, if you will. They’re going to come back knowing that this is real. The land of Israel changes you — you’ll never read the Bible the same.”
Jim Moran said another trip to Israel is planned for August 2021.