OUR STORY - As told by Cam
Mark was captivated by the Holy Land several years and many journeys before I was. As a missionary, I was busy traveling to every other part of the world and had seen most of it but curiously, I had never even thought of going to Israel.
Twice before, Mark had invited me to join him in Israel and I had been unable. Then in February 2006, he asked me again to join him on a Holy Land tour in April, that same year. He was planning to go for two weeks under the teaching of Kent Dobson, a protégé of Ray Vander Laan. I was scheduled to go to Latin America at that time but providentially, the Latin trip fell through so I called Mark and said: "I'm in!" I confess: apart from traveling with my life long friend, I saw this trip as little more than “another notch in the belt” of nations for my travels.
When we finally arrived in Israel that spring, I was nothing less than ambushed by the Holy Land. It was not what I had expected at all. Where I thought it would be brown and sandy, it was green and lush; where I expected flat landscape, it was as rugged as our Rocky Mountains, though not as high.
The words of Scripture that I’d been reading for more than 25 years began to jump off the page in living colour. Frankly, there were moments when I was moved to tears. What was that about, I wondered?
I am of British descent. When I go to England and Scotland, something resonates there for me, unlike when I travel to places like Ethiopia, Russia, China or India. I think it’s because the British are my people. My family and ancestors came from this part of the world. In a way, I am not surprised to find a kind of emotional resonance there. But when I go to Israel, I realize the connection is even deeper and it goes back thousands of years. This is the link to my spiritual heritage - a very connection to God, it seems.
After that tour together in April 2006, Mark and I talked about making this trip available to our family and friends. We wanted them all to experience what we had experienced. We thought about taking a small group of a dozen or so with us on some future trip.
Mark has a lifetime of teaching and preaching behind him. He has become steeped in the land and people of the Bible. I have a background of extensive international travel and leading groups overseas. Together we sensed the Lord’s favour on this idea of bringing our friends along with us. We just didn’t realize the extent of His vision for us in taking pilgrims to the Holy Land.
We wanted people to Encounter Israel. We wanted to create an experience underscored by a solid foundation in the study of God's Word. We envisioned people learning with their feet. We wanted them to see and feel and smell the land. We wanted to create opportunities for them to meet the Israeli people, talk to them and hear their stories and concerns. This was to be no bus tour. This would be an interactive, walking tour - one to remember for a lifetime.
We hosted our first trip in May 2007 with 33 people (a few more than we’d planned!) We returned again in May 2008 with 43 pilgrims and later in November 2008 with 27 pilgrims. “Word of mouth” became our best advertising. Churches and educational institutions began to hear about what we were offering (the quality of the teaching and the particular style of the pilgrimage).
Since we began in 2007, we have led at least one excursion annually and up to two excursions in some years. We have been honoured to have been accompanied by people from various locations across North America. We have had many Bible school professors and students join us. We also have enjoyed the company of pastors. ministry leaders, missionaries and others from India, Mexico, Japan, Zambia, Philippines, Viet Nam and Indonesia. We are most privileged and excited to be able to offer this remarkable experience to people from many walks of life.
And we offer this experience to you. If you are fit, if you have a longing to investigate the JEWISH roots of your Christian faith, then this trip is for you.
DR MARK FRANCISCO
“I am excited about this aspect of our church’s ministry because I get to re-experience the unexplainable thrill of God ambushing me over and over again through the eyes of others with the heart and culture of Israel and His timeless Word.
The spiritual formation, leadership development and passion that I have seen this excursion birth in others is awesome and I am so glad that God has enabled (and Coquitlam Alliance has allowed) me to use this means as one aspect of ‘developing fully devoted followers of Christ!
I see His hand directly upon this ministry and look with excitement as to how this will expand His Kingdom and build His Church worldwide.”
Canadian Bible College, Brandon University, Canadian Theological Seminary, Doctorate from Bethel Theological Seminary, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Leadership, character development and personal spirituality - Europe, North & Latin America.
Studied and/or taught in Israel numerous times.
Since 1980—at Sherwood Park, St Albert and Coquitlam with the Christian & Missionary Alliance.
RCMP (formerly) and Simon Fraser University football teams (formerly).
To Diane with four married children.
“I have been surprised by Israel! As a Christ follower for over 38 years and one who has travelled extensively (some 55 countries) in a missions vocation, I was unexpectedly captured by this small Middle Eastern nation: its compelling history, geography and its people.
Here I found my spiritual roots and a new context for my Lord and the life He lived. Israel changed how I read the Scriptures. This nation is a fascinating stage for world events. My global awareness has not been the same since.
“There is great joy for me to observe the personal impact this experience has on young and not-so-young pilgrims. I believe co-leading ‘encounters with the Holy Land’ is one of the most effective ways I can help strengthen His Church today.”
Engineering, University of Alberta.
MA Leadership, Trinity Western University.
JESUS Film Project.
A member of an Order dedicated to strengthening and equipping national churches around the world and helping to revitalize the Church in Canada.
Cam has led many international mission ventures over the years to Africa, Russia, Central and South America, Asia and Israel.
To Nan; five married children and twelve grandchildren.