After two long years of waiting and praying for borders to reopen, young adults from all over Canada (and some from other parts of the world) were able to set foot in the beautiful land of Israel.
After a few days enjoying the beautiful weather of Tel Aviv and visiting the historically rich district of Jaffa, we made our way to Tiberius. A boat ride on the Galilee, an aid project with The Beautiful Land Initiative, a visit to the archeological site of Capernaum and a moving baptism in the Jordan were some of the highlights of our visit in the region. We then made our way to the desert camping at Kfar Hanokdim in Arad where we rode camels, met with the Bedouin leader and worshipped God under the starry night sky. Early the next morning we walked up the legendary forteresse of Masada and heard of the Jewish resistance during the Jewish-Roman war. After we went down to the lowest point on earth to a public beach on the Dead Sea and floated on one of nature’s wonders. We then ascended to the glorious city of Jerusalem where we would spend the last days of our tour. Among other activities, we visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs at Hebron, Yad Vashem the world Holocaust Museum/Memorial, the Friends of Zion Museum, the Western Wall, the City of David, and the famous local market – Mahane Yehuda. We also visited biblical cities such as Bethlehem and Jericho. As pilgrims, we also delighted in exploring the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Garden Tomb. During our time in Jerusalem, we experienced a traditional Sabbath dinner with an orthodox family. Our last day was spent visiting Sderot and Kibbutz Alumim, where Rabbi Shmuel Bowman informed us on the threats Israel is facing and how financial support from the ICEJ helps in saving lives by providing bomb shelters for vulnerable communities near the Gaza border.
One of the strengths of this year’s tour was the connection we made with the people of the Land : Christians, Jews, Arabs and Druze alike. We were honoured to hear the moving and inspiring story of Eva, a Holocaust Survivor who escaped from Auschwitz. From the hills of Judea and Samaria including the town of Bethlehem, we heard thrilling and awe inspiring stories of people determined to serve God and His purpose to bless His chosen people.
On the last night, we gathered together in a conference room at the Jerusalem Gate Hotel to share and worship. The sound of laughter and shedding of tears was evident as we celebrated our life changing tour. Everyone was transformed in a particular way during these twelve days. Some of them fell in love with the Land and the people, some were amazed at the sight of historical evidence of the accuracy of the Biblical account, But most of all, everyones’ faith was rekindled as we witnessed the faithfulness of our God at work. It was a truly beautiful experience and we can’t wait for ARISE 2023.
Philippe J. Bedard