MYM ISRAEL – Tuesday June 26th.

Today wraps up our time together as a team in Israel. It’s been an amazing trip, and today was no exception.

Our day began very early in order for us to get out of the hotel and onto the Temple Mount before the crowds gathered. It’s a crazy experience being in such a significant place that is steeped in history!

Our team spent the rest of the morning in the area around the city of David. We visited the house (and jail cells) of the high priest house from the first century, then on to the ruins of David’s ancient castle, followed by a trek thru Hezekiahs tunnel.

Our day wrapped up with our team celebrating communion together at the garden tomb. What a way to end our incredible trip!

Thank you so much for praying for our team while we were away. We had incredible weather, sites all to ourselves, excellent health for the team, and most importantly – we had God move in our midst! Praise God for our amazing time in this special place! – Trevor and the Youth Missions Team

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MYM ISRAEL – Monday June 25th.

Our day began with some of the most amazing sites that Jerusalem has to offer.

We started our day by visiting the grounds of Hagia Zion. Tradition tells us that this ancient house of worship holds the burial place of King David, the site of the Last Supper, and the room where Pentecost fell on praying disciples! Wow!

Afterward, we made our way to the West Wall where our team touched and feel the western retaining wall originally built by King Herod’s men in the process of build the 3rd temple.

After weaving our way through the Rabbinic Tunnels, we made our way to St. Anne’s Church. The acoustics of the crusader style arched construction made for an unforgettable worship experience, led by our very talented worship leader, Olivia.

Just outside the church, we stopped at the Pools of Bethesda. This is the site of Jesus healing the “invalid” that we read about in John 5. There is something unbelievably powerful about sitting reading the words of our Bible while sitting only a few feet away from the locations where the events took place.

After a snack, we headed into the jaw-dropping Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church is the culmination of the Via Dolorosa, or “Way of the Cross.” It is absolutely beautiful and inspired reverence in all of us as we approached some of the most painful parts of Jesus’ life: the location of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial preparation, and tomb.

It was an incredibly moving and full morning.

After a late lunch, we left Jerusalem to spend some time at The Holocaust Museum. Even in the short amount of time that our group spent there, the depth of tragedy and pain brought us to tears. It deepened our understanding of evil and inspired us all the more to look forward to the day when Jesus returns to make all things new.

This team is a joy to be around and wonderfully sweet. Time for some rest before our last full day in Israel! – Drew and the MYM Israel Team

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MYM ISRAEL – Sunday June 24th.

Today our team served alongside a wonderful Christian church to provide household items for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian families. We had a wonderful time working alongside of members of the city municipalities and of the local church. We even had a visit from the city’s mayor and head rabbi. You’ll have to ask members of our team about our time today. It was great!

In the late afternoon our team headed to a sifting site to join the work of a team of archaeologists. We sifted through dirt that has been hidden deep under the destruction of the old city from 70 ad. Our team found some incredible things; pottery, Roman glass, even two coins. But the most impressive find we had was what the head archaeologist referred to as “the find of the year” with their dig team – an alabaster dice from the first century! It was an incredible find as it looks like it was just made yesterday, even though it’s been concealed in the ground for 2000 years.

Our day was unique, in that we spent time with the living stones in Israel and yet also sifted through the ancient stones. What a unique and special place this city is!

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MYM ISRAEL – Saturday June 23rd.

Today began at the Garden of Gethsemane. We spent some time as a group in a private garden where Trevor shared a powerful message. We were all able to spend some time reflecting about what Jesus experienced in that place, the pressure he was under, and the deep compassion that he has for each of us in our own suffering. We walked across the street to visit more of the garden, as well as The Church of All Nations.

We also stopped at a beautiful lookout point atop the mount of Olives to hear a message from Drew. He emphasized the idea that God keeps all of His promises. We were able to see many of the locations that he mentioned in his message from where we were sitting. Such an amazing experience!

From there, we walked Palm Sunday Way down the Mount of Olives and up into the Old City of Jerusalem. We also walked along Via Dolorosa, or “The Way of the Cross.” This is believed to be the walk that Jesus would have taken on the way to his crucifixion. Once we made our way into the city, the students were able to grab lunch and check out some of the shops in the area.

After lunch, we headed to the Israel Museum. This stop allowed students to see an incredible model of the Old City of Jerusalem, and tons of artifacts that have been uncovered all over Israel. One notable section is the Dead Sea Scrolls. We were able to stop at Qumran earlier on the trip, which is where they were originally discovered. It was great to see parts of the actual scrolls, and some of the clay pots in which the scrolls were found!

While in the museum we even had an older gentleman who is a local professor approach our team, he shared his story of being a young teenager that worked the archaeological site atop Masada in the late 1960’s!

We had another busy day with lots of walking, but the weather has been incredible, and the students have been awesome! We are so thankful for your continual prayer and support.

Olivia and the MYM Israel team

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MYM ISRAEL – Friday June 22nd.

We spent our day together in the community of Nazareth.

Our church has a wonderful relationship and partnership with the Nazareth Baptist School in the city. Our students met with the head master Botrus Mansour and some of the members of his staff; they are wonderful people doing an incredible job! Their school is ranked the fourth best educational institution in all of Israel. They serve both Christian and Muslim families that send their children to learn Arabic, Hebrew, and English – and to learn about the good news of Jesus!

While at the school our group played games, met with students, even entered classrooms to share a bit of their life & stories.

Before leaving Nazareth we visited an Arab spice market and then a place called Nazareth Village. It gives a first century look at life in Nazareth in the time of Jesus. It’s a lot of fun and involves a great meal!

From there we made the long drive to Jerusalem. We stopped as we entered the city to take in the view, for the very first time, of this very special place. What an amazing gift for us all to be here together and to experience all of us!

Thank you for your support & prayers for our team. – Trevor & the Youth Missions Team

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MYM ISRAEL – Thursday June 21st.

Today was our final full day in Galilee. Our day began at the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave His famous Sermon on the Mount. Our group broke off along he hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee to read Jesus’ Incredible message. If the clearest instruction that God gives in the Old Testament is the Ten Commandments, then Jesus came to give even more clarity through the Sermon on the Mount (the pinnacle of the new testaments teaching). Our group then re-gathered and boarded the bus together, while headed to our next destination students shared the things that stood out to them or challenged them from Jesus’ famous message.

Our next stop was a place called Tel Dan. Dan was one of the 12 tribes we read of in the book of kings that decided to abandon their territory because of the looming threat & presence of the Philistines. Dan move north and when the kingdom divided, the northern king of Israel set up an alter in disobedience – in the end, leading the Northern Tribes of Israel into idolatry. As we hiked through the area we sat at the footings of the ancient alter that was constructed. Drew had us open our bibles and read the story together. Just amazing! We also explored an ancient mud gate of a city that dates back to the times of Abraham that has been excavated in this region! Just crazy to reach so far back in history and open a bible to read descriptions that perfectly fit what is in front of your eyes!

Our team then made a short drive up the road where we walked thru the site we know as Caesarea Philippi. This is the spot that Jesus took the disciples to when He asked them; “Who do men say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?” The base of this massive mountain face still has the remains of the three pagan temples that once stood there. There is even a deep cave that was referred to as the ‘Gates of Hell.’ It was the hub of pagan worship in Jesus day, but Jesus said that not even it could withstand the power of the gospel! And today we see, the Gospel continues to take ground and move forward, whereas the pagan practices & temples of that day are in ruins. Pete Plotnik both read through the story and shared his testimony with the team while we were at this site; he gave us a good challenge to embrace faith even while we wrestle through our questions and doubts.

Our lunch today was in a Druze village. This unique people group were a branch of Islam nearly a thousand years ago. Many muslim countries regarded them as heretics and drove them out of their lands. Today there are many small Druze villages in Israel; most of which are off the beaten path, in a bit of an isolated area. The Druze are kind people and incredible masters of the shish-kabob! Our lunch was amazing, and was topped off with mini cups of Turkish Coffee!

We made our way to Northern most point in Israel after lunch. From this spot, we were able to look down over both Lebanon and Syria. Our wonderful guide talked us thru the modern history of Israel and the battles they have been engaged in over the past 60+ years. He then talked about the atrocities taking place in Syria today. Just so sad and crazy to look into a land full of so many innocent families that are stuck in the middle of a crazy power grab. Some estimates put the death toll in Syria as high as a half million people. Many of which civilian families.

After a very sobering time in the Golan Heights, we drove all the way back to the coasts of the Sea of Galilee to board a wooden boat that took us out onto the water. It was an incredibly gorgeous evening! Once we were on the middle of the lake, we quieted the engines and opened our bibles to read the gospels story about Jesus authority over the Sea. It was one of those ‘pinch me I must be dreaming’ moments!

The team then gathered to eat dinner together and exchanged glazed over glances – we are tired as our days have been very full.

What an adventure we have had together! Thank you so much for your support of our team! – Trevor & the Youth Missions Team

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MYM ISRAEL – Wednesday June 20th.

Today was spent in and around the humble, yet significant city of Capernaum. Many of us are acclimating to the time change and it’s a good thing, because today was a very full day.

On our way into Capernaum, we stopped for an exciting hike down Mt. Arbel. At the top, we were introduced to the Carub Tree and the sweet, chocolatey fruit that it bears. Our descent presented us with a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee framed by the valley. But the best part of the hike was the unique opportunity we had to walk into some of the caves that were dug into the hillside. These caves were used as hideouts by the last Hasmonean rebels fleeing from Roman conquest. It is easy to see and appreciate the beauty and safety that these hills offered.

After our hike and a short bus ride, we found ourselves in Capernaum. It is in and around this small town that Jesus chooses to spend 18-20 months of His three year ministry and perform the majority of His recorded miracles. Because of this, it has been affectionately named, The Town of Jesus – though not His hometown. Walking where Jesus walked, seeing pieces of the synagogue that He taught in, and even peering into the room in which He slept was an unforgettable experience. This small town presents some of the strongest images supporting the life and work of the Jesus that we call Lord and read about in our Scriptures.

On our way to lunch, we capped off our powerful morning by stopping quickly in the relatively recently discovered city of Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene. What a unique opportunity to see the excavation of this site still taking place.

After lunch we drove out to the strategically vital location of Bet She’an. It is here that the Jordan River is easiest to cross – a path all too important to control. The late Roman control and incredible development captured our imaginations as we walked down a Roman street between the original pillars placed by Rome. The scope and size of this Roman city was impressive.

Lastly, we visited the Jordan River to see the site of Jesus’ own baptism and even be baptized ourselves. Our students took the opportunity to share their testimony and celebrate by outwardly proclaiming their deep reception of God’s mercy and grace. So many exhibited wonderful courage as they walked in vulnerability with our large group. In their humble need and vulnerability, they were received. First by Jesus Christ and then by His body in attendance. Buried with Christ and raised to walk in His life, we were ready for a hot shower and a warm dinner. – Drew & the MYM Israel team

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MYM ISRAEL – Tuesday June 19th.

Our day was spent in the City of Ariel today. Our church has a long term partnership with this unique community that has enabled us, amongst other things, to develop relationships with students that live here. In the summer they typically send a delegation (as they like to call it) of high school students to stay in host homes provided by our youth ministry families. Several of our students in Israel with us on this trip are hosted students from Ariel this summer. All of that to say, we had a very excited group arriving in the city to meet the students that will be staying with them next month! Their excitement was matched by their Israeli counterparts that greeted us with huge smiles and a fun afternoon together.

A portion of our day in Ariel was spent at their leadership development center, where we participated in their ropes course and climbing apparatus. Because of the size of our group, we split off in a couple of different directions – tackling different team building obstacles that were challenging and a lot of fun!

Our time in Ariel is a wonderful and unique part of our trip, where we have opportunity to get to know the people of the land of Israel. My hope is that in the future our students wont just hear or read of Israel in the news, but that they would see faces and think of names when they hear Israel mentioned. Our time in Ariel is building that relational connection.

What a wonderful blessing to be here in Israel! – Trevor & the Youth Missions Team

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MYM ISRAEL – Monday June 18

For many of us, we are still not yet adjusted to the 10 hour time difference from home.  So this morning our internal alarm clocks kicked in just in time for us to watch the sunrise over the Jordanian Mountains and reflect across the Dead Sea.  It was absolutely beautiful!

The remainder of our day would be spent in the Dead Sea region.

Our first stop was at an ancient fortress King Herod the Great had constructed atop a mountain in the middle of the desert.  We spent a couple of hours exploring what is left of this beautiful place, and learning about its amazing history.  Please be sure to ask a member of our team about Masada’s story.

After a quick lunch we headed out to hike En Gedi – the place where David had run in with King Saul while hiding deep within a cave (1 Samuel 24).  The springs at En Gedi provide some natural waterfalls that gave us a brief reprieve from the heat.  Our team then found some shade and opened the scriptures together to read and consider the story of David that took place in the very area we found ourselves resting.  It’s a beautiful place!  An oasis in the desert!

We then made a quick stop at a place you may be familiar with, it’s called Qumran.  This was once the home of a small religious sect of the Jewish Religious Leaders back 2000 years ago.  This group meticulously studied and hand copied the Old Testament scriptures.  Their ancient texts were discovered inside caves in the hillsides by a young shepherd boy in 1947.  The discovery is now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls and is celebrated as the greatest archaeological discovery of modern history.  Because of this discovery, we as followers of Jesus are able to have a confidence that we have what was initially written down (that the text hasn’t changed in 2000 years), and that what we have is true (because of the prophetic nature of the text that predates Jesus by as much as 200 years).

Our day concluded overlooking the Judaea Desert hills; we took some photos, road some camels, and had an amazing meal overlooking the beautiful landscape.  What an amazing day!

We are now a sleepy bunch riding on a bus headed towards our next destination.  We’ve had an amazing couple of days together, and our journey has just begun!   – Trevor & the Youth Missions Team

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MYM ISRAEL – Sunday June 17th

Today was our first full day in Israel. Many of us were awake very early this morning as our bodies now start the painful process of adjusting to a 10 hour time change.

We were thankful to have a day with a pace that was more relaxed than the majority of our time away in the Holy Land will be. We departed our hotel late in the afternoon after spending some time exploring the coastlines of Tel Aviv and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. It was beautiful!

Our team then made its way to the extensive ruins at Caesarea Maritime. Caesarea is a place that Herod the great envisioned, and even the fragments of his amazing creation are still impressive today! A hippodrome, and a palace on the sea are visible from the first place we stopped when entering this ancient city; it’s enormous amphitheater. Out team slowed down while at Caesarea to open the scriptures an read the stories from the book of Acts that take place in this amazing city. It was in Caesarea that the gospel was first received by gentiles, and where God then began to do through the church what was no longer done at any point in history – to knit the hearts of men and women, young and old, rich or poor, Jew and Gentile; together as one. We call it the church. And what a beautiful thing it is to be a member of the bride & body of Christ.

Our team then trekked down through the desert regions of Southern Israel (by air conditioned bus of course), to the Dead Sea. The whole team spent time floating around in this very unique body of water. There was a lot of laughter, and then a bit too much splashing, followed by a few tears from the sting of the high concentration of salt in the water. Everyone is fine, and most would say they loved it!

Our trip is off to a great start and our team is healthy and well! We have a wonderful guide leading the way, and we believe the Holy Spirit is present and speaking to us as we journey through this beautiful and special country. Please continue to pray for our team as our journey is just getting underway. God bless you! – Trevor & the MYM Israel team.

Check out this little 20 second clip brandon put together for you – https://vimeo.com/275552274

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