Day 4: Jerusalem, The Western Wall, Via DoloraosaWednesday, November 7, 2012 By: Sandy Thorn Clark
ARRIVAL IN JERUSALEM: The Journey Home Tour arrived in Jerusalem Wednesday morning, providing a “hallelujah” moment and shouts of praise as the buses emerged from a highway tunnel for the first spectacular glimpse of the Holy City.
PRAYER AT THE WESTERN WALL: Tour members almost immediately became prayer warriors as they made their first stop in Jerusalem at the Western Wall (Kotel), the holiest place in all of Judaism. The men and women separated into their respective areas at the Wall to pray over requests sent to The Fellowship’s annual Prayer at the Wall campaign. As is customary, the prayer requests were written on paper which then was rolled and placed in the Wall’s crevices before the prayer partners offered fervent and personalized prayers on behalf of others, and then themselves. Evidenced by tears streaming down their faces, it was an emotional time for many praying. For those who believe in the power of prayer 365 days a year – like the Sebastian family of Wisconsin including Pastors Donald and Judy Sebastian and their son and daughter-in-law, Pastor Samuel and Erin Sebastian – it was even more meaningful to present the needs of others at the Wall called a “house of prayer for all nations” by King Solomon.
YAD VASHEM’S SOBERING REMINDERS: A sobering two-hour walk through Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem museum dedicated to the 6 million Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust, was emotionally difficult for JHT members who were reminded of the evil that exists in our world, and what that evil can be allowed to accomplish if unchecked. Tour participant Dr. Michael Herskowitz of Brooklyn – who previously had visited the Holocaust museums in Washington, D.C., and New York City was even more impressed with the Jerusalem museum because of its significant artifacts and compelling recounting of the tragic stories of those whose lives were lost.
RE-VISITING THE 5th CENTURY: After leaving Tiberias and heading south through the Jordan Valley with groves of majestic date palm trees, the tour stopped at Bet Shean with its picturesque archaeological remains of Scythopolis, a vast Roman-Byzantine city with colonnaded streets and three rows of a Roman amphitheater that once held 6,000 spectators for matches pitting gladiators vs. lions.
DAY’S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Squeals of delight greeted the first sighting of a camel as the tour made a side trip through Jericho and offered an impromptu version of “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” Lora Agopian of Woodstock, Ga.; Emelia Kausal of Columbia, Md.; Patty Talarico of Joliet, Ill.; Adetayo Olayinka of Lake Mary, Fla.; and June James-Egbor of Tampa, Fla., showed their prowess in bargaining while shopping for souvenirs of their Holy Land tour.
THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE: The day will include visits to the Mount of Olives, the site where Jesus and His disciples came on the night before His arrest and trial; the Garden of Gethsemane, which recalls Christ’s last hours; the Via Dolorosa, which honors the route taken by Christ as He carried His cross to Golgotha; and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which 4th Century Empress Helena contended was where Christ was crucified, laid in His tomb, and resurrected.