My Protestant Pilgrimage
It is thrilling to stand on the soil of another continent, to visit a place you have only read about. With internet access, anyone can watch videos about a desired location or people group. Although this is awesome- it’s not the same as actually being there. My feet ached to travel but resigned themselves to tread the home soil for the foreseeable future. I had no idea an opportunity would come sooner than anticipated!
I always desired to visit Israel and was a point in my life where I had some additional savings and was yearning for a new experience. I had been out of high school for 5 years and lived with my family, working long hours to pay my way through college. I also stayed busy volunteering at my church. My schedule was too full, but it was the best way I had to cope with loneliness. A local church posted on Facebook that they were getting a group together for a 10-day Holy Land tour hosted by Friends Tours and Travels. This was the opportunity I had been waiting for!
It was going to be an expensive trip! I paid my deposit and had about half the funds already saved. I would not have been able to raise the remainder without the generous support of my family and church members! I am beyond blessed because I could not have accomplished it without them! The trip was planned well in advance of March 2018, so I had time to prepare. I had no idea that in November of 2017 I would meet my first boyfriend and future husband! (It was so hard to leave him behind!)
When I refer to my 2018 Israel Trip, I call it my Protestant Pilgrimage. Pilgrimage seems to be an antiquated concept. According to the dictionary, the definition is simply: “a journey to a sacred place.” A pilgrimage is not necessary to be an obedient Christian. We are not mandated to visit holy places regularly for the merit of our salvation. It is not about touching a holy relic for a blessing. It is about taking time to journey to the real places where the real events of the Bible took place. It is amazing to stand inside a church that was built hundreds of years ago which was placed on top of a site that can be traced back to the early church or even further back to Old Testament times.
When I first divulged my destination, I received two questions frequently: “why would you want to go there?” and “is it safe?”
- I wanted to see places where Biblical events happened. I was interested in archaeology and history from a young age. Walking in the literal footsteps of Jesus’s while He was on earth is amazing! The Bible really does come to life when you can stand on the soil where some of the most important events happened! Even if you are not of a Judeo- Christian background, you must acknowledge there is something significant to this area that is home to the only three monotheistic religions of the world: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Evangelical Christianity in America often overlooks the Jewish foundation of our faith. I could fill pages more about why I wanted to go! People also asked if I was doing this for school credit because I was pursuing a theology degree. Unfortunately, I could not count it as college credit- but some of the most influential experiences in my life never “counted for credit!”
- Because of the constant unrest in the Middle East, many people are afraid of going to Israel because they feel unsafe. Everyone I’ve met who has toured or worked in Israel says they feel safer there than in their hometown in the USA. I agreed with them once I was there also. There is something special about a tiny country not much bigger than the state of New Jersey thriving despite being surrounded by countries that yearn for their annihilation. Of course, there is always risk when you travel, but it’s incomparable to the risk taken every day driving a car to work. I am not a reckless person, but I won’t live in fear of the “what if?”