For nearly 20 years I have had the privilege of leading young adults on a two-week pilgrimage of faith and service to the homeland of Jesus. We call it eXperience Israel. The big X symbolizes that Israel is at the crossroads of ancient, modern, and prophetic history. This program is one of our short-term ministry trips, and we have discovered that they can be a life-transforming experience!
Just recently we received this message from Hannah, one of our past participants,
I can’t believe it’s been over 10 years since my trip. I count it as a significant turning point in my life. Forever changed.
Pinpointing where these turning points occur for participants on the trip is different for each of them. It can happen during one of our many on-site Bible lessons, our ministry service projects, conversations with locals or other group members, or in a quiet moment alone where they can feel God speaking to their heart. For many, it happens when they engage with God’s Word near a particular site where a biblical event took place (or will take place) and they see the dots connect in a new way. Engaging in biblical geography has a profound way of illuminating biblical theology.
Take Megiddo, for example. Many people who read the Bible—even the most dedicated ones—are not very familiar with the ancient city of Megiddo, but they have heard of Armageddon, which is Hebrew for “Hill of Megiddo.” History tells us that this was one of the most fought over “hills” in the ancient world because of its strategic location at the intersection of two major trade routes. In the words of Pharaoh Thutmose III (15th century BC), “The capture of Megiddo is the capture of a thousand cities.”
This is also where the book of Revelation tells us that “[the kings] will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers” (Revelation 17:14).
I always enjoy taking my groups to Megiddo and challenging them to consider what it means to be “his called, chosen and faithful followers.” I also like to point out that Jesus grew up just eleven miles away, within eyesight of Megiddo in the village of Nazareth; the place that Nathanael questioned, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
For those of us who know and trust Jesus, we answer that question with a resounding “yes!” But for those who don’t, we must never forget that there is an epic battle that is raging for their hearts and minds, and it is us, His faithful followers, who have the responsibility to leverage our “Megiddos”—the strategic resources in our lives—to point people to the only redeeming Lord and wise King who has the power to redeem and restore.
That is the lesson of Megiddo, and it is just one of many on our trips, and why we invite you or someone you know to join us. It just might turn out to be a “turning point” that will have ripple effects for generations to come.