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Spiritual Experience in the Holy Land

Life-Changing Memories of the Holy Land

By Jim Edlin, PhD, professor of biblical literature and languages

July 18, 2013

Sharing devotions on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Participating in prayer where Solomon’s Temple once stood. Witnessing baptism in the Jordan River. These were some of the special moments from a recent trip to the Holy Land sponsored by MNU’s Department of Christian Ministry and Formation. They were life-changing memories.

During the last week of May 2013, 37 people traveled to Israel on a trip hosted by Dr. Randy Cloud, professor of biblical literature, myself and Sullivan Center Coordinator Jacob Lett. Students, recent graduates and friends of the university participated, including five family groups. Before the trip was over we were like family. We had shared something very special together.

We stood in a synagogue at Capernaum, prayed in a church in Gethsemane and walked the streets of old Jerusalem. We observed the impressive wealth of Herod at Caesarea and Masada and contrasted it to the simplicity of Jesus at Nazareth. We could almost hear the voice of the Lord as he bellowed the Beatitudes on a hill overlooking the beautiful Sea of Galilee. When we viewed the vast Valley of Megiddo and heights of Mt. Carmel we gained new appreciation for the ministry of Elijah.

More than ever before, everything we had read in the Scriptures seemed so real, so true and so certain.

The spectacular ruins at Beth Shan showed us the significance of Greek culture during New Testament times, while simple remains at Jericho helped us relive the conquest of Joshua in the Old Testament. We were reminded of the reliability of our Scriptures as we saw the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. And while at the Dead Sea, some of us floated in its mineral rich waters.

That first view of Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives, however, still remains one of the most memorable moments for many. To see the City of David, for which Jesus wept and gave his life, leaves a lasting impression. Aside from the camel rides, there is a certain mystique about Jerusalem. Some of the stones in the walls date to when Jesus healed a man at the pool of Bethesda. The pavement where Pilate’s soldiers played games remains in place. In the press of the crowds in Jerusalem’s narrow streets, with all its merchants and smells, we could imagine life in biblical times.

Standing in a dungeon beneath the house of Caiaphas we spent a reverent moment reflecting on the agony Jesus endured for us. On another day we sang songs in a garden near an empty tomb rejoicing over his resurrection and celebrating communion with fresh understanding. More than ever before, everything we had read in the Scriptures seemed so real, so true and so certain.

On the plane ride home, our bodies were tired, but our hearts were full. Our minds had much to process; images that would continue to flash before us at the most unexpected times. Our understanding of God’s word would never be the same. But most important of all, our relationship to our Savior had profoundly deepened. We were more in love with the Lord of life. We had walked where Jesus walked.

This trip was part of Pioneer Adventures, an Alumni & Friends travel adventure. For information on more Pioneer Adventures visit

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