Shalom! It’s New Year’s Eve and our group from Ohio has arrived in Israel. For many of them, this is their first time outside of the country. But for all twenty-one, this is their first time in the Holy Land. Not a bad place to end 2018 and start the new year!
We wasted no time as the group hopped on the bus after smoothly making their way through customs and successfully getting all of their luggage. For a guide, this is always a huge blessing. Our local guide Hani, an Arab Christian, greeted the group and gave a great introduction of the history of Israel as we made our way to the first location of the tour. After a short drive down the Mediterranean coast, we arrived in Caesarea, the Roman capital of Judea during the time of Jesus. Within hours of their plane touching down, the group was walking through the remains of one of the most important ports in the world from two thousand years ago. We instantly experienced the impact of Rome on the people of Israel as we explored the theatre, the Hippodrome, the palace of Herod and so much more. We looked at Acts 25, which describes when Paul stood trial before the governor. He appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome where he was later killed. After a few hours in the ancient city and a quick visit to the remains of the aqueduct, we headed to the hotel to get some much-needed rest for the days to come.
Reflecting on the last day of the year, I was reminded of God’s sovereignty and how He uses brokenness for his glory. Caesarea, once a harbor of persecution and opposition to Jesus and his teachings, became a launching pad for early believers to bring the Gospel to the rest of the world. A sweet reminder that God is always faithful to us as the year comes to a close. Tomorrow is the start of a new year which for many brings about resolutions for the next year. My prayer for this group is that our time in the Holy Land would bring us not just to an annual resolution to make ourselves better but to a daily resolve to make ourselves looks more like Jesus.
Please pray for our group: that our time in Israel would draw us closer to the Lord; for our safety as we travel throughout the country; for the people that we encounter along the way, that we would point them to Jesus.