This post is the second of two from Bill Vanden Bosch on traveling to the land of the Bible. Read the first post "What Kind of Israel/Palestine Tour Should I Go On?" here.
In making a decision about taking a trip to Israel/Palestine, in addition to the natural questions about costs and dates, there are several questions that should be answered before making a decision regarding which trip to choose. The more clarity travelers have about the answers, the greater the possibility that they will have an experience that will grow their faith and their faithful discipleship of Jesus Christ.
- What is the focus of the proposed itinerary? Is it designed as a basic tour, a Biblical study trip, a social justice trip, a spiritual journey, or something else?
- Which Biblical sites are going to be visited? Will they be mainly Old Testament sites or New Testament sites?
- Will a variety of voices be heard from regarding the current situation in Israel/Palestine (Jewish israelis, Arab Israelis, Palestinians, and Jewish Settlers in the West Bank)?
- Will there be stops in the West Bank in locations such as Jericho and Bethlehem?
- Will there be opportunities to meet persons living in Israel and the Palestinian territories to hear their stories?
- Who is the local leader of the tour? What do you know about her or him? In answering this, it is important to consider not only their leadership of tours but also their educational training and pastoral, academic or other experiences.
- Who is the guide in Israel/Palestine? Whether guides are of Jewish or Arab descent, practicing Jews, Muslims, or Christians can make a difference in their leadership.
- What have others said about the tours you are considering? If possible, it is good to have personal conversations with those who have participated in those you are considering.
- What preparations are expected for your participation in this journey?
- What emphasis will be placed on building Christian community among those traveling together?
- What experiences of prayer, Bible study, communal and personal reflection, and worship are planned as part of the itinerary?
- How will you complete this sentence: As a result of this trip, I hope to...
In answering these questions, it is important to prayerfully consider one’s personal expectations for the trip. Because of “the Land’s” significance in our faith journey, a trip there needs to be approached as more than a simple tour. Rather, it is a journey to our spiritual roots that hopefully will impact our faith and our walk of obedience to Jesus Christ.