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Living

June 9, 2008

Walking where Jesus walked

Pilgrimage tour of Israel takes locals to biblical landmarks

Stratford — “My heart yearned to go to the place where my Lord had walked … and He made a way for me,” said Susan Pinley, Ada.

She was among those touring Israel in May with a pilgrimage coordinated by New Beginnings Church at Stratford. Members of that group walked on streets that Jesus had walked more than 2000 years ago, strolled along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and prayed in the Upper Room where Jesus ate the last supper.

“It was so beautiful and peaceful,” said Pinley, describing the Sea of Galilee. “I want to go back.”

After spending their first night at Netanya on the Mediterranean Sea, the group traveled to Caesarea. This city was built between 22 and 10 B.C. and is the place where many important Christian events took place. Peter's mission to the Gentiles began at Caesarea and Paul was imprisoned there for two years before his journey to Rome.

“This is a pagan city built before Christ by Herod the Great … We sat and had devotion in a theatre that was in use then and that they are using even today,” Pinley said.

On Mt. Carmel, the group's travels took them to a place that overlooked the Jezreel Valley. Carmel is a mountainous ridge extending along the Mediterranean Sea and jutting southeast into the Jezreel Valley. It is known for its beauty and fertility.

In ancient times oak trees, olive grove and vineyards grew around Mt. Carmel. Today, Carmel is still forested and large parts of it have been made a nature reserve.

“This site has a gorgeous view overlooking the Jezreel Valley,” Pinley said.

A highlight of the trip for Pinley and others from New Beginnings Church was the opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan River. “It was awesome,” she said.

The Jordan River originates above the Sea of Galilee and meanders south through the Jordan Valley 200 miles to end in the Dead Sea. In Biblical times the Jordan River played an important role. It is the river that the Israelites crossed to enter the Promised Land of Canaan (Joshua 3:14-17). It was also the river in which John baptized Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17).

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