I jokingly refer to these dinner's as our "last supper." This classic mid-east restaurant is the perfect host for the discussion of the Passover and also Jesus "last supper," so it's an appropriate sentiment. One of my favorite times with each group is the very end when people are preparing to return home, and begin to reflect on what they've learned and how they won't return the same. It's astounding.
In my experience, everyone who travels to this land leaves changed. Part of that is because it's a new culture, and experiencing culture's other than our own changes us. The other is seeing the Bible come to life before you feet as you walk through the land in which it was written. You're standing on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, its water stretching out before you and suddenly stories you've read and re-read become tangible. You hear the water lapping the shore line, feel the wind on your face, touch the cool waters, see the fishing boat moving slowly and suddenly stories of Jesus unfold before your very eyes.
No matter how many groups I see, or people I meet who've journeyed here, I will never get used to hearing the life-changing testimony that people declare. Listening to the group share from the joy in their hearts tonight after 2 weeks of intense study in the land of the Bible was so inspiring to me. That is why Geoff has dedicated so many years of study and passion to exploring this Text in its original context, and why we study with so many different people and groups before leading our own. We want to take what is always an incredible experience - to its greatest potential.
We love working with Dr. Jim Martin because he shares our passion for transforming a trip to the Holy land from a tour into an intense Biblical study trip for students of the Word. Even a tour provides an incredible experience but to engage the land and each site through the time periods, cultures, and geography of the Bible allows an entirely different level of insight to the Text. One of my favorite testimonies tonight was someone saying the trip was "like a second honeymoon with the LORD." That spark was re-lit, the scriptures had fresh light, and paradigms had shifted.
Those who get the most out of these trips come prepared, having studied provided materials and bring an open heart and mind, ready to learn from the land as if hearing these stories for the first time. It's an incredible thing to witness. There is nothing that inspires me more to encourage Geoff in his passion of bringing people to this land, and/or bringing the land to the people, than hearing the testimonies of those forever changed by being here. Thankful for each opportunity we have to learn and teach here.