You can avoid "been there, done that"
Some questions to ask yourself...
- Will your trip have you RUNNING where Jesus walked? Non-stop?
- Will the focus be on Christianity as a long-ago biblical religion without reference to the living Christian communities of today?
- Will your guide encourage you to spend more time in over-priced souvenir shops (where the guide gets a commission) than in churches or sites?
- Will you go to a diamond factory instead of a cultural center?
- Will you spend Sunday on an all-day trip, so you can't worship with the local Christians?
When your church group or organization plans a trip to the Holy Land (defined in this site as Israel/Palestine), your goal is probably more than simply tourism. The trip can enrich your life and give new meaning to your faith. Visiting the biblical sites (the "ancient stones") is important but there is so much more to see and experience in the homeland of Christianity, especially the "living stones"--the living Christians. Christian groups need to make time in the schedule to walk along side the contemporary Palestinian Christians, the reminders of Christ' continuing presence, and give them support in this times of crisis for the church.
Since the "Holy Land" is both Israel and the occupied territories of Palestine, many of the resources refer to Palestinian places. These are the alternatives to standard mass tourism, which focus on Biblical sites with little opportunity to engage the people and current context.
The term Holy Land is sometimes used to refer to all the lands of the Bible. Some people do not like the term at all since Christian theology points out that all lands are holy. The term was coined in the third century and has been used for a very long time, even when the borders have changed. Basic information about countries other than Israel/Palestine is in Alternative Destinations.
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