I was told before I left for this trip that it would impact me, but I had no idea to what extent this experience would change the way I look at the Bible. I have been home for over a month now and I still find myself daydreaming about my time in Israel and processing the teaching of Mark Francisco. I took over 30 pages of notes during my time there and I am still going through it bit my bit so I can process and comprehend what God wants to teach me.
One of the most profound and challenging experiences I had while in Israel was going to Caesarea Philippi and unpacking Peter’s confession of Christ (found in Matthew 16 and Mark 8). Mark taught us that no Rabbi’s would ever bring their disciples here because of the pagan worship of false gods was so rampant and ingrained in to the fabric of the culture, but Jesus did. Not only did Jesus bring them here, but challenged them to answer the question, “Who do you say I am?” In other words, “who are you going to serve, me, or the gods of this world?” I had read and even preached on this passage before. But to be there, imagining what the disciples would have been thinking and feeling with the pagan worship going on all around them and Peter saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, made this passage come alive to me. I was challenged because Jesus brought his disciples here. He wanted them to go to the pagan places like Caesarea Philippi when he left, to bring the good news of his life to the places of darkness in the world.
A part of my job here at Vernon Alliance Church is to have a presence within the High Schools of Vernon. I have found it so difficult to get a foot in the door, especially at a high school directly across from the church. I have felt afraid and timid of going into this place because of the dark atmosphere towards the Church and towards God. This time in Caesarea Philippi directly spoke to me in regards to this school. Jesus wants me to bring the good news of his life into this school. What a powerful time of conviction and motivation for me!
Since coming back from Israel I have told many people of my time there and what I learned. Here are a few examples: the weekend after landing in Canada, I was able to preach at Vernon Alliance Church to over 1200 people. My entire talk was motivated and inspired by Israel and the Jewish culture. A few weeks ago I was at Eagle Bay Camp and a few friends started asking me about Israel, an impromptu teaching time came about where I went through my 1000 pictures of Israel and shared teaching and my learning’s from Israel. Last night, I was invited to a Young Adult small group to share. There were 15 people there who loved hearing about the Good Shepherd, Living Water and other teaching I was able to hear while being in the Holy Land. A conversation sparked after I shared about how we could take people there.
The impact of this trip will reach far into my future. My third day in Israel I was struck with the beauty of the place, the significance it has for my faith and the need to share it with others. Since being in Vernon I have been looking into planning my own trip. My dream is to take 20 students in July of 2011. I have little idea as to how this is going to happen, in fact it is a pretty daunting task, but taking these 20 students would change their life and hopefully spark interest into the Bible and its power so they can share it with others.
Alliance Youth Pastor
Vernon Alliance Church