Features & Objectives
Why be a part of Ancient Stones, Living Stones? This tour includes several distinctive and significant features that are not usually included in tourist-oriented tour packages to Israel.
- The tour includes conversations with Jews, Muslims, and Palestinian Christians—people whose perspectives vary considerably. The tour will try to visit a Palestinian refugee camp to become informed about the legal and political issues surrounding the conflict over the land. You will learn about the experience of Mennonite Central Committee in Israel, as well as the experience of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron. Through those encounters, and others, you will discover that the intersection of religion and politics is very busy. Your own perspectives and opinions will be sharpened as you learn to listen to people whose experience is very different from our own.
- The tour goes to places that many shorter commercial tours do not go. Besides taking you to most of the significant biblical sites “from Dan to Beersheba,” this tour will take you to Petra, Jordan, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. You will spend five days in the West Bank (Palestine), including four nights in Bethlehem (including a home-stay), and a day in Hebron, the site where the ancestors of Israel (Abraham, Sarah and others) are buried. As well, you will be able to immerse yourself in the rich life and history of Jerusalem, staying inside the Old City for seven nights!
- The tour is available to all who are physically fit and willing to be on their feet a good part of the day. Besides several nature hikes, there will be a considerable amount of walking each day. The climb up Mt. Sinai is strenuous.
- Participants may register for the tour as a university or seminary course (see Costs below). Canadian students receive a form (T2202) to claim the education deduction on their income tax returns.
- To encounter the world of the biblical texts through lectures on geography and history, and through guided tours of significant biblical/archaeological sites and pilgrimage locations from Tel Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, with a special focus on Jerusalem and its environs, and the region around the sea of Galilee.
- To gain a new understanding of and appreciation for the biblical story through a close encounter with the historical, geographical, and social context in which this story played itself out.
- To reflect on the significance of the Scriptures as we reflect on the biblical texts on location.
- To encounter the people who live in the Holy Land today, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, and to engage in conversation with them by way of regularly scheduled meetings and field trips.
- To gain an increased awareness of the complexity of the situation in Israel/Palestine today through listening to the stories of the people as they express hopes and fears for the future of their land, families, and communities.
- To reflect together on “the things that make for peace” within the context of the current tension between Israelis and Palestinians, and to learn who we, westerners and as followers of Jesus, might respond so as to foster peace.
- To reflect together daily and prayerfully on our experiences, to worship with Middle Eastern Christians when possible, and to consider what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ and neighbours in God’s global village with the peoples of the Holy Land.