Wycliffe Israel Trip 2018 Throughout my 17 years working at Wycliffe, I have watched students return from the Israel Trip and heard how it was life-changing for them. By Karen Baker-Bigauskas
Karen Baker-Bigauskas (left) and Connie Chan (right)
THIS FEBRUARY WAS MY TURN! The whole trip was incredible. Dr. Stephen Notley was our guide extraordinaire, the group of 53 was a cohesive one of students, staff, faculty, alumni, friends, and family, and the sites we visited had us walking through the Bible. The day that we walked from the birthplace of Jesus though his final days had a particularly emotional impact on me. Our second stop was the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The church is built on the traditional site of the stable where Jesus was born. I had the opportunity to place my hand on a star on the floor believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. As I placed my hand there, a feeling of awe came over me. I wanted to rest there
awhile. But the pushing crowd had other ideas, and I had to let others have their turn. After lunch we ventured to the Mount of Olives, where we looked out over cemeteries thousands of years old, strategically placed outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Jesus was there! He had prayed there many times! Then we walked down to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before he was betrayed by Judas. The olive trees there are incredible, dating back hundreds if not thousands of years. There was a sense of peace, a quiet that made me reluctant to talk. I wanted to rest with him a while. From the Garden we walked into the Old City of Jerusalem, then along the Via Dolorosa, where
By Connie Chan
I had seen photos of it. I had heard news about it. But nothing quite equates to actually setting foot on the land of Israel.
VISITING ISRAEL ALLOWED ME TO engage the biblical world not only with my intellect, but with my whole person. There’s nothing quite comparable to walking through the underground tunnel that King Hezekiah created, stepping on the staircase where the apostle Peter likely stood when he preached to thousands on the day of Pentecost, tracing the footsteps of Jesus across Israel/Palestine: from where he was born, where he grew up, to where he started his ministry. Among the places we visited, my favourite was Jerusalem, the city where Jesus spent his last days. It is where he wept, ate his last supper, faced his accusers, carried the cross, and was crucified.
On our free day in Jerusalem, I visited the Western Wall, where I spent some time in prayer and reflection. The trip proved to be both an enriching and confounding experience. I was fascinated by the layers of history illuminated by the ancient sites we visited, the coexistence of diverse ethnic and religious groups, and the complexity of current political situations. I sat down and sketched, observing women who prayed earnestly: some with their hands on the wall, some on their faces, some with hair down, others with heads covered. Countless pieces of paper with written prayers and wishes filled the cracks of the wall. Over the heads of the pilgrims, birds found shel-
Jesus carried his cross, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Our day ended with the opportunity to put our hands on the place where Jesus’ cross stood. The emotions that ran through me cannot be described. Time stood still, and again I wanted to rest with Jesus. The entire 12-day trip led me through a rollercoaster of emotions, but that particular day brought the reality of Jesus, his life, and his death, into my heart. Karen Baker-Bigauskas is Executive Administrator and Manager, Human Resources at Wycliffe College. ter in the holes of the wall, oblivious to religious conflict, historical complexity, and the joys and sorrows in the hearts crying out to God. Then I remembered: the same God who provides for the birds also rules over impossible situations. And Jerusalem, where Jesus spent his last days, was also where he was raised to life. Through faith in Jesus, we have hope. There’s still much to ponder. I want to give thanks to all the wonderful people with whom I shared this unforgettable experience! Connie Chan is Communications Coordinator at Wycliffe College, and a part-time student in the MTS program.
Wycliffe and the Dead Sea 17
Insight Magazine by Wycliffe College