Pastor Jack Ray has been a pastor in the community for more than 30 years but never had the chance to visit some of the places he had been speaking about.
It was that, in addition to his love of history, that was the reason he decided to take a trip to the Holy Land.
“I read a lot of stuff in the Bible that happened during the life of Jesus…and I liked to see where some of these things happened,” Ray said.
Formerly a pastor in Fairview and now at Springville’s Faith Christian Fellowship, he took a tour with a faith group and a pastor friend out of Minnesota Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. It stopped throughout Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and other stops in Tiberius, near the Sea of Galilee and Netanya. At each stop, tourists were handed scripture information that related to each stop.
Some of the biblical stops included a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, where much of Jesus’ ministry took place. Of particular interest was the house of St. Peter.
“There was a Greek church built around it in an octagon and then inside was the foundation of the house,” Ray said.
During the visit there, they got to stand at the top of the house and look down into the opening where a paralyzed man was lowered down into the house to be healed. Ray also mentioned the route that Mary had to take to see her sister, Elizabeth. The 60-mile trek would have taken 10 days due to the mountainous terrain.
In addition to the religious stops, the places with historical significance, like the former Greek port settlement of Caesarea Maritima, were of particular interest to Ray. That included an ancient theater and ruins where chariot races were held, and the ancient fortress of Masada also held interest for him.
With the amount of different empires that have inhabited the land over the course of history, from the Greeks, to Romans, Byzantines and everything in between, there were a lot of different layers to explore.
The trip also included a visit to the Temple Mount, a monument of great religious significance to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.
Since his return, the trip has given Ray’s understanding of the events laid out in the Bible even deeper. He said it helped his faith, being able to see the places mentioned.
“It’s an amazing experience,” he said.