This semester, our group was able to go on a combined Egypt and Israel trip, and in preparation for this semester, this was the trip I was looking forward to the most. The sixteen-day trip to these two locations has truly changed my life. My faith was strengthened, challenged, and changed in unique ways that have brought me closer to God and have become a part of my faith walk forever.
In Egypt, one of the most amazing experiences was viewing the pyramids. Yes, those pyramids. Those pyramids were around in 1850 BC when Joseph was in Egypt, and they were built 600-800 years before Abraham. Suddenly, the pyramids are not just a cool visit, or a neat stop at one of the great wonders of the world, but instead something that transports you back to the time of the Old Testament heroes. If you close your eyes and block out the tourists, you can imagine Joseph or Abraham walking through the same locations, striving to serve the one true God. Egypt harbors the incredible Nile river, animals, people, markets, and its sights are dizzying and gorgeous, leaving you unable to imagine a more incredible place on Earth.
Yet as these thoughts consume your mind and the beauty captures your heart, you’ll board another plane to the Holy Land, and find yourself in the land of Jesus. Soon, you will be sailing on the Sea of Galilee, walking through the city of Capernaum, where Jesus spent the majority of his ministry, and entering into Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where tradition says Jesus was crucified and buried. As you sail on the Sea of Galilee, if you close your eyes and imagine being an apostle, you can hear Jesus telling you to cast your net onto the other side. As seagulls fly overhead and the seawater splashes onto your face, the stories you’ve read and heard become so much more real. You walk through Capernaum and Jesus’ ministry is suddenly alive in locations and landscapes that amaze you. Then, walking through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, viewing the adornment and decoration of the church, you suddenly stop and wonder – what does it look like to see Jesus? Do you see Him in nature? In architecture? What draws you nearer to God? While on tour, the ‘Jewishness’ of everything forces you to be more aware of what you believe and why. I grappled with awe and wonder, with questions and frustrations, but through all of these, I grew my relationship with the Lord in the most unimaginable way. My faith is forever changed because of this trip, and it is a trip that my passport, my faith, and my heart will never regret.