From mid-December to early January, 58 young people from across Australia travelled around Israel, Jordan and Egypt. We explored biblical landmarks, witnessed the marvel of modern Israel and immersed ourselves in the culture and food of the Middle East. It was incredible to witness together the places that we had heard about in Sunday School, with the familiar stories suddenly coming alive. Every day was filled with new and exciting places, with so many highlights that I’ll just share a few of them with you.

We began our trip by exploring the north of Israel: Tel Aviv, Haifa, Galilee, and the Golan. One particular day, after visiting places known for incredible displays of faith – Mt Carmel and Mt Tabor – we went up Mt Precipice which overlooks Nazareth, Tabor, and the surrounding valley to watch the sunset. It was an incredible experience to sit and meditate upon the life of our Saviour as the Son of Man, imagining his youth and daily life.

The Sea of Galilee was particularly inspiring. It was a beautiful place to connect with the stories of the disciples and the many miracles our Lord performed. It’s a relatively small lake, yet beautifully captivating, and remains a testimony to the authenticity of Scripture. During our time in Galilee, we frequently spent time pondering the work of our Lord. One night, a group of us made a fire on the shores of Galilee; we read John 21, sang songs of praise, and contemplated the greatness of our Lord! On the hills overlooking Galilee, in a beautiful garden, we read the Sermon on the Mount. Away from the complexities of life, in a garden, the simplicity, yet profoundness, of our Lord’s teaching was very thought provoking.

We drove south via Shiloh to Jerusalem and, as we edged closer, the anticipation grew. Finally, from Mt Scopus, we saw our first glimpse of Jerusalem nestled amongst the hills. It was an incredibly emotional moment, looking down upon the place so closely connected to our faith. Filled with joy and emotion we sang The Holy City as we drove into Jerusalem. Never have the words felt more applicable: the day when Christ will establish the New Jerusalem felt so close!

Holding a memorial meeting in the Garden Tomb (a tomb found in a similar location to Christ’s) was also a highlight, as we pondered the wonder of the risen Christ. At the start of Sabbath, we walked to the Western Wall and saw hundreds of Orthodox Jews beginning their Sabbath celebrations: it was a sight to behold! I was struck with how passionate God’s people are, yet how misguided they’ve become. How amazing it will be when one day they all will confess that our Saviour is the Messiah! As we continued south, we all left a piece of our hearts in Jerusalem.

Throughout the land we witnessed the miracle of modern Israel. We visited many battle fields and were deeply impressed by the clear hand of Providence, guiding and protecting the nation. When listening to the endless stories of our Jewish guide and the Minister of the Interior (former Israeli Ambassador to Australia) about the many wars they’ve endured (and current conflicts), Israel’s self-reliance was very apparent. With much sadness we left Israel, but we did so with a greater love for God’s land and His people.

We then travelled on to Jordan and Egypt. In Jordan, I found Mt Nebo a particularly moving place. We considered Moses beholding the land and imagined how he felt standing on the threshold of his inheritance but not able to enter. A statement from one of our hosts was very fitting: “When you’re standing on the brink of your inheritance, don’t throw it all away”.

The expanse of the Arnon gorge was breath-taking. Simple comments like, “Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon” (Deut 2:24) suddenly made the wilderness wanderings an incredible feat.

Cruising the Nile was another phenomenal experience. I wasn’t expecting the vastness of the river and the immense fertility on the banks in contrast to the complete barrenness away from the Nile. It now makes sense to me why the Egyptians worshipped the Nile, and how incredible the first plague must have been!

The trip was an incredible faith-building journey. A special thank you to those who organised the trip and of course to our Father who watched over us and protected us. We truly worship an Almighty God, who throughout all ages has worked with His people to fulfil His will.