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Pastor from North Dakota leads groups on pilgrimages to Israel for news

MINOT, N.D. (AP) – Kent Hinkel was his first pilgrimage to Israel when he graduated from the ministry in 1994 in his last year of training.

"In the years as a pastor, especially as a teaching pastor, it has been invaluable for me to immerse myself in the context of scripture – the land of the Bible – it is very helpful to have biblical stories, biblical narratives and biblical events in teaching Providing and preaching when you have first-hand experience of the land, but more than just personal gain or more, it was a real pleasure to bring others to a spiritual discovery, "said Hinkel, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Minot

He said their leader in Jerusalem, Saad Shaar, a native of Jerusalem, likes to tell them, "Jerusalem is our first home."

"It is truly the home of our Christian faith: in Jerusalem, the significant events of Christianity that have created Christianity, every believer, every follower of Christ has a real spiritual connection to this land and when they take the opportunity to visit it They feel an affinity for a place they have never been in. I keep seeing it because I've made four trips since that first time, "Hinkel told Minot Daily News.

These four pilgrimages were while Hinkel was in the First Baptist Church in Minot. He has been with First Baptist since 1995. He said that some of the people who made the first journey with him had returned with him on subsequent pilgrimages.

"They want to revisit some of the familiar things and see new things," he said.

The most recent pilgrimage took place from 16 to 26 January, when a group of 27 people received by Hinkel went to Israel. The group consisted of members of the First Baptist Church and other churches in Minot as well as some others who joined the group from other regions of the United States.

"Going to Israel for the first time was an amazing experience," said Mark McDonald of Minot. "There were two key perspectives I brought home: First, how the experience allows me to bring depth to the Bible … not just to read sites, but to stop and think that I've been there and Secondly, a better understanding of the distances … For example, to experience the garden of Gethsemane, then the house of Caiaphas and to know exactly how far Jesus traveled after his arrest … Or to be there, Where Jesus faced Pontius Pilate, walk down Via Dolorosa and go to Golgotha ​​(Calvary, now the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) to get a sense of how far he has traveled hitherto unknown way to life. "

"The stories of Jesus are loved and precious, we are forced to read, study and apply the lessons they teach, and after seeing the places where they have come, they take on new meaning and life." said Dr. Dean Redington from Minot.

The pilgrimages are made by Educational Opportunities Tours in Lakeland, Florida, one of the largest transportation companies and supporters of Christian travel to the Holy Land. Hinkel defines the itinerary for the pilgrimages.

"We spend the first nights in Bethlehem, which is a bit off, not for a visit, but for a stay," said Hinkel. Shaar, her guide, has taken her to many places, such as Jacob's Well, a very biblically important place.

"It is the story of Jesus when he met the Samaritan in John chapter 4. It still produces water, you can read John 4, but on our journey you will go directly to the well and then we will read this story properly at the well and then we will draw some water from this well and we can drink from it – it's clear and clean you have a whole lot of biblical events that have taken place there for our first timers, especially when they see the real good if they read the actual account and say that this is not close to the action, this event has happened, it's really a strong connection between your mind and heart for the story of what happened there, "he said.

Minot's Pam Pearson was among the youngest group Israel visited.

She said, "Jacob's Well made a big impression on my mind – somehow I could picture the farmer's wife, who was so kind to Jesus.The lesson learned," Be kind and love everyone. "Sharing this moment with my friends was something very special: the boat trip on the Sea of ​​Galilee was a tearful (in a positive way), and then the bringing together and dancing of the Hava Nagila was another layer of greatness: baptism in the Jordan with beautiful friends – hard to explain, even if it meant a "bad day." How about learning about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Dead Sea Dead Sea?

Hinkel said that Jerusalem has seen an incredible influx of people from all over the world. In January, over a million people from all over the world visited there.

"One of my favorite experiences was not a special place, even though there were many fascinating places, it was the people in our group who demonstrated their faith in Christ through kindness, concern and friendship towards a stranger." I was humbled and honored. Being with people who live their faith, they have inspired me, "said Rita Damberger of Minot.

"The last day of the tour at the tomb of Jesus, on which the resurrection with subsequent community was presented, was a highlight for me," said Duane Haugstad Minot.

Baptisms were part of the experiences in Israel.

"For many people it is a remarkable place to experience Christian baptism, for some it is a baptism again – it was baptized – but for some they want to use it as a symbolic special opportunity to be baptized in the same river in which Jesus was baptized, "said Hinkel.

For some, like Glen Siembida, it's the first time to be baptized, Hinkel said. Glen, a seventh student, was baptized in the Jordan with several other people on the trip.

"It's a very personal decision," said Hinkel. He performs the baptisms.

"The most significant and powerful experience was my plunge into the Jordan River," said Washington State Marly Christenson. "There were many other special moments, such as dancing on the Sea of ​​Galilee, drifting on the Dead Sea, plunging our toes in the Mediterranean at Caesarea, eating street food in the Old Town on the roof and finding the place of King Herod and sharing community. "

What is most important to Hinkel when you go on a pilgrimage to Israel?

"It's probably the 'ah-ha' moments in others," he said. He said his joy was to see others on the journey and to observe what they noticed on the journey.

"I love seeing her spiritual discovery, I love seeing renewal in her heart and mind," he said. "I am so pleased to know that she makes reading her Bible more interesting, or making her more alive in her prayer life, and seeing the effects on others is probably the greatest joy for me, I just love it, I love it People just get excited, are renewed in their Christian faith. "

Second, he said that every group participating in the pilgrimages becomes a small family and takes care of each other.

Another pilgrimage is being discussed that would take place in the next 12-24 months.

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