This trip will always remain special to me for several reasons:
1. It was a week after my birthday so I like to think of it as God’s birthday present to me
2. Being part Lebanese, it was my first time in the middle east so a chance for me to experience the middle eastern culture first hand
3. It’s the Holy Land! Duh!
Our first full day I was greeted by 40°C weather, which soon escalated to 45°C by midday! Being the holy land, they are extremely big on modesty so despite how hot it was there were no booty shorts in sight lol. Our tour bus took us into the heart of Jerusalem where we took a little hike, walked through a few underground alleys (see my Insta highlights for videos) and had a full blown morning worship session in the sun with a full band which was awesome! We had loads of water on standby (it was scorching hot) and it was so nice to look to the left or right and see so many different mission groups from around the world come together.
To say the food was incredible would be an understatement. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love middle eastern food already, let alone having it there. The first night we landed, I tried a traditional chicken shish with rice, beans and salad, and even talking about it now I could eat it all over again! I need to find out what seasoning these guys are using because the chicken was full of flavour!
As a kid, every Easter you always hear the story of the tomb being empty and Jesus rising from the dead etc. However, knowing you are going to see it in person, it feels very different. It’s like all of a sudden the bible has come to life and you remember that this really happened! The atmosphere when you’re about to enter the tomb is very solemn and everyone is very quiet and observant so they can really take everything in. Everyone is united and in awe.
When you enter the area, there are about 4 different mission groups simultaneously being given a tour of the area and being taught about its history, symbolism and the significance behind certain landmarks.
Various groups from around the world were all sat together, and a senior tour guide showed us all the significant monuments surrounding the tomb. He really set the scene for us to visualize what things were actually like when the events leading up to Jesus death took place. We were also given diagrams and pictures that we could pass around to see how certain architecture once looked in comparison to how it looks in present day.
As you can imagine, the queue to actually go into the tomb was super long and many people were very emotional as they got closer to the front of it. Earlier that morning I had decided to reread the story of Christs’ resurrection in the bible, to remind myself of all the details leading up to that point. I found it made me enjoy the experience so much more as I could understand a lot of the tour guides historical references quite well.
As you can see I didn’t quite get the memo about not taking pictures in front of the tomb lol But hey, at least I now have some memories to keep and show my future kids one day haha
Inside the tomb was very small with quite a low ceiling and could only fit in a few people at a time. But, for such a tiny and compact space, the spiritual power it exudes is unreal.
Those of you who have watched my Israel highlights (on Instagram) will know that one of the most special moments on this day was having a worship session outside the tomb. I really don’t have words to explain how the atmosphere felt. It goes without saying that it was an extremely emotional time for many people. Singing
‘Death could not hold you down, You are the risen King, Seated in Majesty’ literally right outside the tomb, the words resonate in a whole new way and its hard to articulate.
The atmosphere was so powerful that we ended up having Brazilians, Americans and Europeans all singing the same worship songs in different languages simultaneously. I am so glad I got to capture and be a part of this moment. Hearing all these different voices united, singing outside the tomb, was a reminder that Christ really died for everyone, from every corner of the world.
When you’ve taken communion your whole life it can almost become so repetitive that you forget its power. However, having communion right outside Jesus’ tomb will very quickly remind you of exactly what communion means and what Christ has actually done for us. For me it was a very eye opening moment and one I will always treasure.
On a lighter note I came across some interesting cafe’s on my way to Jesus birthplace…
Visiting Bethlehem was so much fun! It is a predominantly Palestinian area (whereas Jerusalem was predominantly Jewish for historical reasons), which meant I was able to witness a lot more of the Arabic culture, language and food.
Again we were able to have outdoor worship with a beautiful backdrop of Bethlethem city. We were also able to meet the Mayer of Bethlehem! He was such a lovely person with the most amazing oud! He took us to his shop which was full of souvenirs and artefacts…
Exploring Bethlehem during the day, we came across several street vendors so of course it was only right that I try the local cuisines! I am very sure I probably gained a pound or two before the end of the trip but its okay- the falafel wraps were so worth it!
I have to say, every evening of this trip was fun and adventure filled. On one of the evenings, we got a chance to visit Zedekiah’s Cave which is 20,000 m2 underground and runs the length of five city blocks under the Muslim Quarter of Old City Jerusalem.
We had a night full of worship in the cave with guests ministers such as gospel legend Eddie James from the United States who get everyone on their feet. I loved the worship but I kept just staring at my surroundings as I couldn’t believe I was actually in an underground cave!
Music was obviously a huge part of my trip as that was the purpose of our journey. Our team held midnight worship sessions which went on for hours but people were really ready to receive and praise God. On our final day we had the amazing opportunity to film a live worship set for an international television network with the most incredible backdrop of Jerusalem city!
Honestly, it is really hard to put into words what this trip meant to me.
I mean besides the obvious fact that it is The Holy Land and you can feel the presence of God everywhere, it was seriously such a beautiful and peaceful experience. Seeing as it was literally right after my birthday, I was already in an extremely reflective headspace thinking about the year ahead. I was feeling quite heavy to be honest, because I knew I had a lot of tough decisions to make this year, and furthermore I just really wanted to be a better version of myself.
Finally going past the mid 20s mark can make your goals and priorities magnify and I just really wanted to be more purposeful, more peaceful and more happy than I was. This trip allowed me so much time to talk to God, have a good cry or two, journal, and remember the sacrifice Christ made for me. It affirmed that I have so much purpose and life to fulfil and reminded me that as long as I have God, I have everything I need to handle whatever lies ahead.