May 18, 2011Submitted by Doug Carroll on May 17, 2011 - 8:29 am
A tour of Israel involves more than just taking in the scenery, Dr. Michael Baird says.
In fact, the scenery isn't even the best part.
"I remember thinking it wasn't so outstanding," says Baird, a professor of Christian studies at GCU who has been to the Holy Land twice. "After all, I grew up in the American West.
"But there was no place I absorbed or looked at more intensely. For example, you're walking up a road where King David traveled. Every place you go, there's a story. There's intense cultural beauty, and you're immersed in it."
Baird can't wait to go again, and he will return March 15-23 as co-leader of a "Best of Israel" trip that promises to be a life-changing experience for all who sign on for it. Med Skeens, a GCU alumnus and the pastor of nearby Kineo Church, is coordinating the trip through Pilgrim Tours.
It's the first time such a trip has been made available to GCU students, faculty and staff. The all-inclusive cost is $3,100 per person, and Nov. 28 is the deadline for the first down payment of $300.
The trip - most of which falls during GCU's spring break - will include popular stops such as the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Mount Carmel, Megiddo, Masada, the Dead Sea, Bethlehem, the Western Wall and the Garden Tomb. But the group also will stay a couple of nights at a kibbutz, and there will be music and devotionals to enhance the experience throughout.
"Someone who's never been there won't be disappointed," Baird says. "For believers, it's an amazing trip. You see a fascinating place at every turn."
Travelers to the Holy Land say the Bible comes alive as never before - and it stays that way long after their return.
Despite its reputation for unrest, the region is considered safe for pilgrims to visit. As Baird notes, Israelis and Palestinians both benefit economically from ensuring safe passage for tourists. Well-guided tours such as this one are the best way to see the land, experts say.