Even though the flight from Newark, New Jersey to Tel Aviv, Israel was long, it was worth the wait. Our incredible tour guide Stan Goodenough has a great website where as a journalist he keeps the world updated on current events regarding Israel. You may want to check him out at jerusalemwatchman.org. From South Africa, Stan has lived half of his life in Israel and exudes an obvious love for the God of Israel, the land, and its people. Stan is a journalist by occupation with not only a wealth of knowledge about the sites in Israel, but also an understanding of its politics, history, religion and current tensions. He has a way of challenging traditional Christian thoughts, which have no substance in the Bible, Old or New Testament. He helps those participants during his tour to begin to understand the persecution and difficulty the Jewish people have gone through and are presently experiencing.

Obviously visiting the places where Jesus, Abraham, David and the prophets lived their lives is naturally exhilarating; however, Stan brings a depth to education and history at the sites that awakens one's soul. You come away with a one-week historical tour, which can't be experienced in any college course. His presentation ignites a love for the land and its people. After all, the earth is groaning with earthquakes, fires, winds and other natural phenomenon preparing for Jesus' return.

Stan encourages us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the State of Israel. There has never been a country in which so many others in history have desired the land for themselves. Even though they became their own nation again in 1948, many countries today still want to divide the land and give away the West Bank, with the United States leading the charge. God said He would bless those who bless Israel. My vote is to keep it the way it is. Israel is extremely tolerant to other people and religious groups as long as they are not threatened. But know - Israel will defend itself!

In Romans 11 Paul reminds us that some of the branches were broken off the olive tree which represented Israel, and we being a wild olive shoot were grafted in among them and became a partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree. So instead of being arrogant believing we have now replaced Israel, we should be joyous, that the gentiles (as devoted Christians by faith) are included in the covenant of promise! We look forward to the return of Jesus to the Mount of Olives where He will take His throne in Jerusalem and we will live with Him on earth. What exciting times are coming!

Thanks to Stan Goodenough for the tour, Moti the driver for safe passage, Zach Maisenbacher, organizer of the trip, and Daniel Decker, Director of JET (Jerusalem Eternal Tours), and those we toured with. What a wonderful time of fellowship and intimacy we shared. Zach will be planning another tour soon, giving everyone time to save up and prepare. My personal highlight was sharing this trip with my wife Becky, and of course watching the shock on the faces of those baptized as they entered the frigid River Jordan. Priceless!