Trip to the Holy land

A once-in-a-lifetime trip gives students a new perspective

Growing up in a Christian home and going to church each Sunday, I was well-informed about Bible stories and how, though we call them “stories,” they are actual historical ac- counts of God interacting with his people.

ISRAEL — The historic locations, like Jerusalem pictured above, from the Bible come to life in the Middle East.  SarahRodriguez| Liberty Champion

ISRAEL — The historic locations, like Jerusalem pictured above, from the Bible come to life in the Middle East.
SarahRodriguez| Liberty Champion

But, it wasn’t until traveling to Israel this past winter break that the Bible took on a whole new meaning. Seeing the Bible come to life is such a cliché phrase I wanted to stay away from, but it truly encapsulates what I was able to experience.

While standing in the Holy Land, my mind raced as I tried to process the experience I was having, and I couldn’t help but wish more people could have the opportunity to witness for themselves everything I did. My life as a Christian will forever be changed, and I think all Christians need to take a leap of faith, hop in a plane, fly over the Atlantic and experience Israel for themselves.

Reading Scripture while sitting at the foot of the Sea of Galilee or sitting atop the Mount of Olives looking into the city of Jerusalem are things I’ll never forget. The Garden of Gethsemane will never be just a garden I pictured in my head. I now have a literal visual whenever I read the Bible.

The Bible will never be the same to me. Reading passages about Jesus’ crucifixion or his early ministry in the places where they actually happened is an `experience that I don’t want to keep to myself nor do I think should be limited to a few people.

Though I visited a host of biblical sites, I also had the chance to visit historical sites and learn about the country and its role in current events. Standing in the Golan Heights looking into the countries of Syria and Lebanon was something I never would have guessed I would be doing.

Supporting Israel has been a hot topic in international politics recently, and after standing on the soil myself, I think so many people would have different perspectives if they only took a chance and visited.

It’s so easy to think of Israel, nestled in the heart of the Middle East, as a dangerous country where your safety is in question just by setting foot there, but I had a completely different experience during my visit. Jerusalem is a holy site for Jews, Christians and Muslims, and the three cohabitate the city generally in peace, but the media often fails to cover this.

All biblical significance and religious ties aside, Israel is a special country. Israel is a top-level researcher and innovator when it comes to technology, and the country’s agriculture system is thriving as Israelis discover the best way to grow produce in a rocky, desert climate. The Israeli people have so much information Americans could learn from to improve our country, but unfortunately, most times we don’t give them the chance.

Israel is a democratic country focused on peace. This fact can’t be forgotten amidst all the political drama and talk that goes on.

Christians aren’t required to visit the Holy Land as a part of a mandatory pilgrimage, but my spiritual life and my walk with God have forever been changed because of my week in Israel. I will always remember the first time I set foot in God’s Holy Land — the land of his people. The Bible will never be the same. My view of God’s people will never be the same. My view of the Middle East will never be the same. And my view of God’s sovereignty and grace will never be the same.

Rodriguez is the editor-in-chief.

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