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Alumni visit the Holy Land with Dr. August Konkel

On April 28, 2014 six Providence students, a handful of alumni, and Dr. Gus Konkel and his wife Esther, embarked on a journey to the holy land of Israel. This trip ran ten days and covered a variety of biblical and historical sites throughout Israel and Palestine. All but one of us were newcomers to the land of Israel, and as a result we did not know much about the trip that lay ahead of us. Speaking on behalf of the group, I can confidently say that whatever expectations we held were smashed within the first few hours of arrival, and the trip became more than any of us could have dreamed.

Each person held a different highlight of the trip. For some, it was the Nazareth Village, where a site that remained relatively intact from the time of Christ brought the everyday gleanings of the average biblical person to life before our eyes. For others it was the Israeli Museum, where we saw a to-scale model of the city of Jerusalem in the time of Christ, the Shrine of the Book (the world’s largest Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit), and a gigantic biblical archeology exhibit spanning from the Canaanite period to the Roman period. For Gus, who did his doctoral dissertation on King Hezekiah, the highlight was without a doubt the ruins of Lachish, which was a fortress of King Hezekiah’s which we read about in 2 Kings 18.

Perhaps one of the most valuable experiences which the group as a whole took out of this trip was meeting with local Christians of the area. Through our friend and Providence Seminary student Michel Khalil, we were able to meet Arab and Palestinian Christians as well as Israeli Messianic Jews. We were allowed a look into what life is like for the people who live in the same area that Jesus did. For us, seeing these sites was a once in a lifetime experience. For them, this is everyday life, and their faith is rich as a result.

Since arriving home, I have been asked multiple times as to the one thing I took with me from this trip. Well, besides a few souvenirs, I honestly cannot say that there is one specific thing I took home. Surely the way that I read the Bible will never be the same, for I have seen and walked in the land where a majority of the biblical events took place. I have seen the traditional sites where it is believed Jesus was crucified, where David killed Goliath, and where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Yet, it is next to impossible for me to pick out one thing that stood out more than the rest because we did so much and saw so much. To walk in the land which belonged to the tribes of Israel, which was the same land Jesus was born into and raised, is not something one can simply put into words. Things like this cannot be explained but have to be experienced, and this experience was one that none of us will soon forget.

Written by Daniel Rempel, Providence University College student.
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