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The Fellowship’s 2011 Journey Home to Israel Tour has come to an end, yet the wonderful memories from this 10-day trip will stay with me forever. The pure love for Israel and the Jewish people that I witnessed in every member of the group has left me inspired, and the way they were awed by the simplest things here in Israel gave me a new appreciation for this land I am blessed to call home. The lessons in faith and joy that I have learned are countless, and I am grateful to God for giving us this special time together to walk His land in brotherhood and friendship.

The tour began with a few bumps in the road. When a snow storm on the east coast of the U.S. caused mass delays and flight cancellations for the Journey Home Tour participants, they faced their obstacles with faith and grace, proclaiming it was God’s will and secure in the assurance that this, too, would work out for the good. Later, one participant told me when she finally arrived in the Holy Land three days late, “A once in a lifetime trip to Israel is only possible if it is blessed by God, so we put our faith in Him to bring us to Israel at the right time.” What a display of faith, and a reminder to all of us that we can get through difficult times if we turn to God!

Once the 52 Journey Home Tour participants were all safely in Israel, we felt like one big family, bonded together by the knowledge that we are all God’s children. And we really had the time of our lives! We sailed the Sea of Galilee, prayed at the Western Wall, were inspired and enriched by teachings from my father Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and visited a number of Fellowship projects so the group could see how their generosity is supporting so many worthwhile programs.

Seeing the group’s reaction to these programs was a highlight of the trip for me.

The tour group visited projects for needy elderly, children, and immigrants, and even helped to pack hundreds of food boxes for the hungry. It was so inspirational for me to see that these caring Christians wanted not just to tour the holy sites and enjoy the beautiful land, but to give back to the Israeli people by volunteering at the lifesaving projects they help fund.

Now that the tour group has returned to their homes and it’s back to business as usual here in the Holy Land, I’m already preparing for and anxiously awaiting the 2012 Journey Home to Israel Tour. And why wouldn’t I? The hope, joy, and faith that Christian visitors give to us is immeasurable. It reminds Israelis like me in the strongest possible way that we are not alone, and that we have millions of Christians that will stand with us always. Thank God for that!

With blessings from the Holy Land,