Church group lives the world of the Bible
While Jesus and his disciples have always been special to the congregants at First Baptist Church, getting the chance to walk where they walked changed the meaning of some of the things in the Bible for them.
For three weeks in September First Baptist congregants traveled to Israel to learn more about the book that defines their faith and see where their savior spent many of the days of his life. Pastor Dave Clear arranged the trip and took 42 people for the trip of a lifetime Sept. 9 through 24. This is the second time Clear has taken congregants to Israel. In 2005 he took a smaller group for a 10 day tour.
While the 2005 tour was about sightseeing, this trip focused on Israel as it relates to the Bible and its characters. Clear said during the first trip he got a better sense of what he wanted to share with those who traveled with him and so when planning this second trip he modified it to make it more meaningful.
The key to providing what he wanted, Clear said, was getting a good tour guide who knew the Bible and could explain the importance of the places they were visiting.
He found that in Dany Walter, a man he met while on that first trip. Although Walter is Jewish, Clear said he had a good understanding of the New Testament and gave the group a tour of Israel that focused on its teachings.
"He had us living the Bible stories," said Clear.
Karen Casselman, who went on both trips, said the 2008 tour exceeded her expectations. In addition to spending more time in the country, she said this trip connected her more to her faith.
"All these things are important to me," she said. "And it was fun to see the different aspects of it"
The tour started in the desert where all great Bible stories have a chapter. Clear said it was the perfect jumping off point.
"You learn humility in the desert," he said.
While in the desert, the group spent some time in a Bedouin village, which for Casselman was a highlight of the trip. During their time at the village the group rode camels, ate authentic food and got to see a completely different lifestyle.
"It was a fun evening," she said.
Along with visiting the desert the group spent time in various locations that have Biblical significance, including Bethlehem the birthplace of Jesus, Jericho the city that Joshua destroyed in the Old Testament and the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water.
As a reference and to keep notes Clear gave each person on the tour a guide book that listed where they were visiting and why. The book included scripture that explained why each location was important.
"I wanted to give them something they could bring home and learn from," said Clear.
Mission accomplished. Casselman said the book was helpful throughout the tour and has given her something to look back on.
Planning a trip for 42 people is no small task. Clear said it was important to have a good tour company and some experience. Clear arranged all the flights and transportation for the group. In addition, with suggestions from Walter he chose what locations the group visited.
Satisfied with how it all went, Clear said as a group they traveled well together and had a wonderful time.
"It was a good trip," said Clear.