Pilgrimage to Israel
The thought of traveling to Israel strikes fear in the heart of some. Safety is a top concern, and, honestly, I get that. The world news coverage of Israel shows only her scuffles. To be sure, Israel is accustomed to conflicts. I’m under the impression that she does not start them, but she is quick to settle them.
For this reason, my husband and I were confident in returning to Israel for vacation with our three children and a group of friends. We had no concern for our personal safety. We experienced two years ago the utmost attention to safety demonstrated by the Israeli government and citizens. At the time, knife stabbings at The Old City’s Damascus Gate were unfortunately regular occurrences. Citizens told my husband and me to avoid the area, so we did.
This time, we had awareness of recent unrest on the northern border with Syria. I thought once we arrived to Israel, we would discover a change in the tour itinerary. Instead, we continued with the planned visit to the Golan Heights and saw things I would not have wanted to miss.
Life goes on in Israel. Residents and tourists do not go about their daily business in fear just because the country is situated in an unfriendly neighborhood. They stay alert, make any necessary changes to plans as needs arise, and trust that their government’s intelligence and military will take action without hesitation.
Earlier this week we toured The Old City and saw an increase in police presence. The culminating festivities for the Muslim holy days brought several hundred thousand to their quarter of The Old City. The road in front of Damascus Gate was blocked to traffic and our return to the hotel late in the afternoon took longer than usual. We heard helicopters fly overhead throughout the night as we slept and the gathering was monitored. We were happy to endure the minor inconveniences for heightened security. The talk around town reported no incidents in spite of a half million attendees at the Ramadan celebration.
A few of our friends left the hotel that night and returned to our usual gathering spot at the end of a long day touring Jerusalem. They found the shop owners in a very jovial state of mind, with music leaving the stores and overflowing into the streets.
I take the time to share our family’s experience in Israel because I think it’s important to get the word out: Israel is by nature a protector of life, and you and I are safe to travel there. So if fear has ever been a cause for you to dismiss seeing the Holy Land, give it fresh consideration. Israel is our friend, and she appreciates our support.
Before leaving the country, we were immensely blessed with a brief visit to the United States Embassy. Upon our approach we clapped and cheered. What a great thing America has done in taking a stand with our friend in the Middle East. Jerusalem always has been the capital of Israel, and our nation loudly declared our agreement through moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to here earlier this spring.
Many from our group exited the tour bus to capture a pic in front of the plaque indicating those responsible for the embassy’s presence in Jerusalem. We sang the national anthem and also thanked God that we were not in present need of asylum from the embassy. Just a pleasant visit and photo opportunity suited us fine.
I would love to hear your thoughts about travel to Israel. Have you been to the land of the Bible before? Do you have plans to return, or are you thinking of making that first-time pilgrimage yourself? Let me know if you have any questions, although I’m by no means an expert. I will, however, happily champion your dream of going. You simply must.
Enjoy this montage of special moments in the beautiful and unmatched land upon which God has placed his name.
And if you want to see more live footage from our pilgrimage, follow me on Instagram and see places where I prayed for us according to the significance of the site.