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Trip Reports:

The Wonder of Israel!

by Dan Stolebarger, Executive Director of Koinonia Institute


Part One – The Berean Tour

Three buses, although a logistical challenge, was nonethe-less an opportunity to impact more lives. Why? Because I still believe that a trip to Israel will change a life! Day One is always a blur on our tours because we are meeting our group at Ben Gurion, wide-eyed but not always bushy tailed! So many emotions at the airport, the flight is finally over and now real-ity sets in. Is this place really safe? Can we drink the water? So many unknowns but after a short commute to the Med in Tel Aviv and a welcome dinner and evening orientation, our sojourners are ready!

One thing for certain is that our worship leaders, Bill and Stacy Spencer, made our worship time sweet. Bill’s rendition of the Hatikvah (the Israeli National Anthem) allowed the group to sing to and with the IDF and provided an emotional opportunity up on the Tank Base with a squadron of Israeli soldiers most memorable!

After leaving our hotel, we headed to Caesarea on the coast and, despite warm temperatures, our group was amazed with the archeological discoveries and their cameras were put to good use! From there we headed to Megiddo and sat outside under a nice shade tree for an insiders briefing concerning Armageddon from Chuck Missler.

From there we went on to Carmel, where the challenge from Elijah was given to our group from the very spot that Elijah asked the question: “Who are you going to serve?” Before arriving at our gorgeous hotels on the Galilee, we stopped at Mount Precipice overlooking Nazareth for a time of worship and remembered the spot where Jesus proclaimed Tikkun Olam while reading from the scroll of Isaiah.


The next day was spent up North, close to the Lebanese border where we spent the morning working on a tank base. We then traveled up to the Golan Heights in order to under-stand the strategic importance of this small strip of land that is always under dispute. We ended our day at Caesarea Philippi, where the challenge of “Who do men say that I am?” was given to all of us.

Our last day in the Galilee was spent along the Northern shore, where so many of Jesus’ miracles were preformed and, of course, we had a special time of worship on the Sea of Galilee on a boat called Faith with our dear friend, Daniel Carmel. Our journey continued as we left the Galilee and headed down to the Dead Sea. On the way we stopped at Gideon Springs and listened to an insightful message by our worship leader, Bill Spencer. The rest of the day was spent in Beit Shean, Qumran, and En Gedi, concluding with a relaxing overnight at the Dead Sea. The following day, as we made our ascent up to Jerusalem, we began at the ancient palace of Masada, built by Herod! We then made our way up to Jerusalem, recounting the Psalms of Ascent, ending with a panoramic view of the Old City from the Mount of Olives.

Jerusalem is always filled with emotional contrast! From Gethsemane to the place of Peter’s betrayal to Ecce Homo and then the beauty and serenity of the Garden Tomb! Words can-not describe a person’s spiritual journey when visiting these sites. Our last day was filled with emotions as well as we made our way through Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial.

Besides the sights and sounds that Israel provides, another special aspect of these trips were the evening Q&A times with Chuck at our hotels.

We began this tour as a large group of 136 individuals. We ended it with an emotional farewell dinner at Abu Gosh, where each of the three buses found themselves part of a new family, each proclaiming their bus the best one of all!

Part Two – The Talmidim Tour

As we said good-bye to our Berean friends, we soon greeted new friends that would join the three from our Berean group to form our Talmidim Tour. The focus of this tour is to SERVE, STUDY and TOUR. Our three days of serving took us to an IDF Tank Base in the upper Galilee region, then to Deklim, a school for severely handicapped children located in the upper Tiberius area, and ended with our working at a last-chance home for teenagers in Tel Aviv that was called Beit Eli. I know for me there is a special blessing that comes to those who serve in Israel.

All of the KI tours to Israel have a unique focus and itinerary. This tour took us to Arad and Tel Beersheva. Besides our serving times, I know that everyone on the Talmidim Tour was powerfully impacted by the Fountain of Tears, located at the Casting Seeds gallery in Arad. We were able to spend time with Rick and his Dafna as they gave us a private viewing of Rick’s amazing and breathtaking Fountains of Tears. There are few words that can explain this interweaving of the Crucifixion and the Holocaust as seen through the medium of sculpture. This experience demands a return visit.

Sharon and I want to again thank our Talmidimers for an incredible time together as we continue to reap the promises of Genesis 12. I would also like to encourage all our members to consider a service trip like our Talmidim Tour in the upcoming year.

We are now taking reservations for our Issachar Tour, which seeks to present the Israel of the Bible as well as the Israel of today. We already have secured both a former Mos-sad and Shin Bet speaker and are working on an amazing lineup of Israeli speakers. Also, we have secured one of the best guides in all of Israel for this tour. If you are interested, please contact us right away because this in a one bus tour! With all that is going on in Israel today, this would be a great time to visit and show your support!

For those of you who attended either or both of these tours, please become a KI Ambassador and invite a friend or two to join us for our next life-changing tour to the Holy Land—the Issachar Tour, which will be this fall.


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