The idea behind sending us on this trip, Brian explained to us last Spring, was to give us a personal experience so that we could share with others a deeper love and understanding of the historical context of Jesus’ ministry as we train and admonish leaders and pastors abroad who may not get the chance to visit Israel in person.
During our time in Israel was evident to us that Jesus was a real man as well as the true Messiah, living in a real place and sharing with real people. We visited some places that gave us a contextualized chronological idea of the life of Jesus. Bethlehem, Nazareth, Judean Desert, Dead Sea, Galilee, Capernaum, Golan Heights, Jericho, Jordan River, Jerusalem, and so much more between them.
I now feel I have been reading the Bible with a new perspective and excitement. After standing in a typical shepherd’s fold, meditating in the Judean Desert solitude, swimming in the breathtaking Sea of Galilee, traveling the landmarks and countryside, and walking the narrow streets of Jerusalem. Michael Card put together more than just a tour. With a wonderful guide, with teaching caliber of a Bible college professor and love for the living God and Jesus Messiah that shined through every word and step. We also were truly blessed with a wonderful small group of folks including Michael Card adding insight and a heart of worship intermittently as we journeyed.
One thing that stayed in my mind was when we stopped to spend some time in individual meditation in the Judean desert. Just a couple of miles between the beautiful West Bank and Jerusalem. The place where Jesus was led by the Spirit when He began His ministry. Where Jesus chose to step into His identity. It kept coming back to me as I thought of all of the things that Patty and I have experienced this last year, have kind of felt like a desert. Both the blessings and the trials of being a traveling family raising support… all this came to mind when we were meditating in the Judean desert… my identity as a man, leader, teacher, and minister has been shaped by my choosing to be led by the Holy Spirit and God’s identity for me… in this desert.
Those 10 days in Israel there are always in my mind. It was such a wonderful and impactful experience to go there and it will take more than a month to process this trip. Seeing the historical sites, and walking in the places where Jesus was. Now anticipating our task ahead, we are on our home stretch to go to Mexico, the excitement of being able to share with people who are going to learn about Christ, is beginning to grow more and more. I pray God continues to open up more opportunities for me to share these new perspectives of his word with our pastors in Mexico.
Below you will see some of our pictures and we promise will put some more!
Joe, Patricia and Caleb