Sisters Rebecca and Vanessa never imagined walking in Jesus’ footsteps. But that is exactly what they did. They left seven kids and two husbands (yes, we’re impressed at the logistics of this too) to travel to Israel and Palestine on a tour led by Bible historian John Dickson.
“The trip exceeded my expectations,” Vanessa said, an Associate Pastor at Roseville Anglican Church in Sydney. Vanessa had just started working alongside John Dickson when the trip was announced. “For me it was seizing an opportunity.”
The first person Vanessa called was her sister Rebecca.
“Spaces were filling fast so within hours we committed and booked,” Rebecca explained. “Our parents desperately wanted to go to the Holy Lands but had to put it off. Instead they offered to fund us. I had a sense of great privilege, going with their shared dream in mind.”
“From the moment we landed there was a beautiful feeling of ease and personal safety. I was struck by how authentic it is, it didn’t feel touristy.”
The sisters experienced firsthand the sights and smells from the Dead Sea to Lake Galilee, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. Geographical ideas in the Bible became a real, lived experience.
“I could understand why Jesus walked where he did. How he travelled place to place and what he saw,” Rebecca said. “We walked through the ruins of a 1st century synagogue. I loved seeing the stillness of being on the Sea of Galilee and seeing surrounding hill country where Jesus spent so much time.”
Tour leader John Dickson's passion for history and his experience sharing first century Christianity amplified the experience of each destination.
A year on, Vanessa remembers all her senses being impacted. “It was an overwhelming experience in a great way – real, encouraging, unexpected.” Local guides took the group through well-known places like the Mount of Olives that overlooked the temple. “They reported Jesus’ life as historical fact – whether they were believers or not.”
“Although I didn’t go in with doubts, or think of myself as a doubter,” Vanessa noted. “What I left with was a certainty I didn’t have before. Now, when it comes to talking about Jesus historically, it’s more real, more certain.
What an incredible man Jesus is, what an incredible thing he did, what an incredible impact he made on the world.”
Rebecca explains the richness of her experience now she is home: “I was doing a bible study about the Sermon on the Mount. I could recall to the group what it felt and looked like, walking from town to town as Jesus did. It took the Bible from black and white to colour!”
“I recommend this tour to anyone,” Rebecca added, “but particularly to people of faith.”
Feeling inspired and encouraged? Book your trip to the Holy Lands now!
Learn more about our tour leader and biblical historian John Dickson.