Salvationists cruise to holy lands
Western Territorial Education Department offers annual study tour.
Commissioners William and Marilyn Francis served as directors for the cruise, themed “Come to the Water” as a nod to the upcoming June territorial congress of the same name. The tour company, Educational Opportunities, provided the guest teacher, Dr. Bruce Birch, Dean Emeritus of Wesley Theological Seminary.
The group boarded the ship in Piraeus, Greece, and headed to sites including the ruins of Ephesus, Rhodes, Greece, Cyprus, the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, the Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, the Pool of Bethesda, Via Dolorosa, Bethlehem and Malta.
“Our guide’s explanation of the city’s history and culture made the Bible stories real and vivid,” said Captain Terry Masango, Pasadena Tabernacle Corps Officer, after viewing the ruins of Ephesus. “It was like watching a 3D, maybe 4D movie. I, literally, walked where Paul and many of the church’s early fathers walked.”
The group also visited the Jordan River.
“The river was leaner yet cleaner than I had imagined,” Masango said. “I paused to reflect on the evangelistic ministry of John the Baptist. He preached on these river banks. He preached repentance. He paved the way for the coming of Christ.”
Retired officer Major Beth Saunders said that the experience of walking where Jesus walked and Paul ministered has enhanced her understanding of the truth of God’s Word.
“In the Garden of Gethsemane, remembering that Jesus struggled, prayed and was ready for the providing forgiveness and victory over my sins was very meaningful and will not be forgotten,” she said.
“I now see the black and white words on the pages in three dimensions…and I can ‘see’ the scenery in real life,” said her husband, Major Neil Saunders. “I have a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made for my salvation, and a deeper appreciation for those days and the travel involved in meeting people.”
The Territorial Education Department, led by Major Jeffrey Martin, typically offers a Holy Land study tour once a year. The next one is planned for Oct. 17-30.
With reporting by Captain Julius Murphy