Nazareth Baptist School, Nazareth Village, and Cana.

010 carpenter workshop

010 carpenter workshop

This is from Zack Miller, a recent graduate of James Madison University:

Today we visited the Nazareth Baptist School, Nazareth Village, and Cana. We also had the opportunity to spend time with the people, specifically kids, who live in this precious land.

A presentation from Naeem, a highly educated man involved at the school, was moving as he said he could have taken an easy route by leaving the country and finding a job but chose to stay to encourage and lead the minority of a minority of a minority of a group of kids to learn and discover the gospel. How often do we choose to take the easiest route possible? I know I do. Then we went into the courtyard of the school for “recess” and hung out with the kids of the school. I’ve always thought the people there weren’t too fond of Americans, as shown by the countless negative media stories I’ve seen in the states. However, nothing could have been further from the truth. They accepted us with open arms. In the song “Hosanna” by Hillsong United they sing about a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith. While the population of believers is small both here and at home, I am so encouraged that our generation has that capability. To shed the easy road and take a stand for what we truly believe is the best thing in the world…which is following the teachings of Jesus.

My other favorite part of the day was visiting Nazareth Village, a 1/20th replica of Jesus’ village. Our tour guide Daniel, a Messianic Jew, shared his testimony and reminded us that while it is amazing to visit the holy land and see the “dead” stone remains here, it is the “living” stones (people) that are truly important. We can live the words and teachings of Jesus, love and compassion over everything, no matter where we are in the world.

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The Region of Galilee

In His Footsteps
A view of the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes

This is from Meredith Cotton, a rising senior at JMU:
Hellooo sweet friends and family! It’s so fun that we’re able to share a little bit about these sweet experiences we’re having from across the world! Today we went to Tabgha (feeding of the 5,000), Mount of Beatitudes, Korazin, Dan, Caesarea Philippi, and ended the day with a sweet waterfall! This morning we got to go to the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5-7). The boys on the trip each memorized different parts of the sermon and stood up one by one to recite them – the same words Jesus spoke to the disciples 2,000 years ago in that same spot! We were all able to close our eyes and imagine Jesus speaking those radical words to us. That day up on a mountainside overlooking the Sea of Galilee so many years ago, Jesus spoke about lots of radical, incredible things, but one thing Pete pointed out really spoke volumes. At the end of Jesus’ sermon he said: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock”. The truth is that in life the rain will come down, the streams will rise, and the winds will blow, but if we build our lives on Jesus, we will not fall because we will have a firm foundation in him. We are all so blessed to be able to have the opportunity to come here and literally walk where Jesus chose to come down on this earth!! In that moment today, I realized what a gift it is that we are here and that we have the chance to build more of a foundation for our faith (that same foundation that Jesus was talking about 2,000 years ago!) Thank you so much for your prayers and for taking the time to read this 

A view of the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes

A view of the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes

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In His Footsteps

Sea of Galilee
From the boat on the Sea of Galilee
From the boat on the Sea of Galilee

From the boat on the Sea of Galilee

From Jonathan Bowman, rising junior at JMU: Today marks the second day of our journey to the Holy Land. The flight from Toronto lasted 12 hours. Not much sleep, but hey, we made it. Straight from the airport we hopped onto the bus and adventured to Caesarea—ruins that exhibited the deteriorated magnificence of the Roman Empire. The Romans imprisoned the Apostle Paul in Caesarea where he began and ended many of his missionary journeys and wrote multiple epistles. We explored the hippodrome (where the Romans entertained with chariot races) and dipped our feet into the Mediterranean Sea. After some relaxation and reflection at the hotel we returned to our rooms for a generally restful sleep.
Sunday
Bet’She’an. Primacy of Peter. Capernaum. Jesus thought, walked, and taught in these places, each centered around a body of water characterized by splendor. A place of miracles and healing. The Sea of Galilee. At Bet’She’an, Pete used the ruined city to remind us that these things of Earth will crash and crumble and collapse away. Are we going to store up treasures in this life or in the next?
We sailed over the Sea of Galilee on a wooden boat today. Mountains like fortresses surrounded us and a light haze masked the opposite shores. The wind whipped our hair against our faces. I treasured every moment. Our feet slipped across the round black volcanic rocks on the shores of the Sea of Galilee as we listened to the history of Peter and some of his mistakes. I was refreshed to hear the forgiveness Jesus pours out on a man who aggressively denies knowing Christ not once, but three times.
Most captivating was the synagogue of Capernaum. I sat on the floor where Jesus stirred His revolution. I tried to imagine what it must have been like to sit and listen to this man upset everything you have ever known to be true. Mercy, grace, love, strength, trust, forgiveness, courage. What radical terms!
We open our hearts and minds to what God has to say for us in the coming days.

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We have arrived…

What an incredible place! We celebrated because we are part of the "ends of the earth" that people dreamed about getting to when they used Caesarea as a missionary launching pad.

— Pete Hardesty

Hello there! We arrived safe and sound about 9 hours ago and hit the ground running eating lunch and then going directly to Caesarea Maritima and touring the site for about 2 hours. What an incredible place! We celebrated because we are part of the “ends of the earth” that people dreamed about getting to when they used Caesarea as a missionary launching pad.

We will be posting pics as time allows. I will have several of our students “guest post” and report on their experiences. So you will get to hear from Zack Miller, Meredith Cotton, and Jonathan Bowman.

Please pray for one of our students, John, a rising senior at JMU as he got a severe intestinal bug and was in the ER late thurs. night and then left with us on Friday. What a trooper! But he is still sick. Please pray that he would rally and be at full strength tomorrow.

Thanks so much. I am writing you from a hotel in the city of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. This is going to be fun. Shalom!

Pete

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