Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 12, 2017

The Power of a Pilgrimage

Jerusalem, Israel

I have visited Israel only once before, and I have never forgotten that experience. The anticipation of walking where Jesus walked and then actually doing so made a deep impression on me. All of my senses were engaged as I visited places that were the subject of years of Bible reading.

There was absolutely nothing passive about being in the Holy Land. It was an all–encompassing experience. My mind and my heart had conversations with one another they had never had before. I was forced to think deeply, to contemplate, and to imagine.

In the late Twentieth Century, archaeologists unearthed a stone tablet in Jerusalem that bears the image of a sailing ship. The words “Domine Ivimus” are inscribed beneath the outline of the ship. These words commemorate the pilgrimage of some unknown Christ-follower to Jerusalem. The translation: “Lord, we went.”

There is something powerful about going on a pilgrimage — something that changes you and the way you think and how you see the world. Pilgrims through the centuries would agree.

I am on my way home from my second visit to Israel, my second pilgrimage. And, once again, I am coming home changed. I’m talking about the kind of change that happens on the inside and impacts what you are on the outside.

A pilgrimage to holy and historical places is powerful because it provides context for what you believe. Everything that is recorded in the Bible happened in actual geographical, cultural, and historical contexts. Understanding these contexts helps us to get a better grasp on what we believe.

A pilgrimage also deepens our insight into the people and places of the Bible. There is insight that is better gleaned when we are onsite, standing in the actual places where biblical events unfolded. Being onsite leads to a lot of aha moments — those experiences when we discover something new about things we thought we knew.

A pilgrimage also provides perspective or the ability to understand what a particular biblical passage likely meant to the original readers. Once we understand why something was written in the way it was or subtle nuances of language, the door to understanding a passage opens even wider.

My friend Joe Landi, Kingsland’s student pastor, and I spent the past week visiting several biblical sites as we begin preparations for next year’s summer trip for our graduating senior class. We have some exciting things in store for our students that we believe will help them to become better grounded in their faith before they head off to college.

With our culture becoming increasing hostile to the gospel, we want to prepare our students to stand firm for their biblical worldview. We have nothing to be ashamed of. The life of Jesus was beautiful and worthy of imitation. We trust that our students will fall even more in love with Jesus and that they will determine to be His hands and feet in a world that needs hope, forgiveness, and love.

I am glad to join the chorus of pilgrims to Jerusalem through the centuries by saying once again — Domine Ivimus.


  1. Thank you for sharing the pictures and your heart on this journey. It was a blessing to me.

    • Thanks for your readership and encouragement, Becky.

  2. Pastor,
    My name is Andrew Killingsworth. I am a graduate of Ouachita Baptist Univerisity. I am a pastor and a public high school teacher. My high school class is designed to look at needs around the world. It’s a very unique class. Recently I had students who became interested in Zabbaleen. My goal is to broaden their prospective of the world. I am look for someone that could talk to my students about Zabbaleen via Skype. Someone from there or who has visited there. Your insight would be appreciated. I will leave my contact info in the blog info section. Thank you, God bless.

    • Hi Andrew,

      Happy to help. Either I or one of my team members would be happy to speak to your students via Skype about our work among the Zabbaleen. Just let me know prospective date and time. You can also check out my blog posts on Egypt for more on our work among the Zabbaleen.


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