“It was a pioneer trip the Assemblies of God put together to start a trip for young people between the ages of 17 and 21,” Jones said. “They will be able to spend about 10 days in Israel. They can see the sites and visit different things that are over there. They can learn and study.”
Jones is the youth pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Pell City, where his dad, Ken Jones, serves as senior pastor.
“This is the very first time I’ve been,” Jones said. “It was absolutely life-changing, and I would encourage anyone and everyone to go. I actually spent eight days there, and it took two days to travel. It was a 10-hour flight.”
Jones said the study trip was everything he thought it would be — and more.
“It absolutely brings to life the Scriptures I’ve read and studied in the past,” he said. “It’s amazing to put a picture of a place that I’ve studied about.”
He said the trip grounded his study of Jesus in the reality that he was a living man.
“When you read Scriptures about Jesus, sometimes it’s easy for us to kind of make him out to be an untouchable type being, maybe something that was unreal,” Jones said. “But Jesus was real. He was flesh and blood, just like me. To see the places that He walked, the places where He taught and even maybe worked and lived was amazing.”
Would he go back? “Absolutely,” Jones said.
“As a matter of fact, it could be I become the ambassador for Alabama for the Assemblies of God,” Jones said. “It may be that we make several trips a year. I want to help take a group of young people from Alabama and be a leader.”
Jones said some kids at New Life already want to go to the Holy Land.
“They are jumping at the chance to go,” he said. “It’s costly, but definitely well worth the money.”
Jones said up to 50 young people could go at a time.
“I encourage anybody to go,” Jones said. “They do not even have to be from the Assemblies of God. Any young person who would love to go and further their knowledge and understanding of the Word are welcome to go.”
Some of the places Jones visited included the Dead Sea, two nights on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on the water and performed several miracles, and Capernaum.
“We spent the majority of our time in Jerusalem,” Jones said. “We visited the Western Wall and the many gates that would enter into the city. On our last day, we visited the Garden of Gethsemane and the tomb that Jesus might have been placed in. As a believer and follower of Jesus, that was very special. The most special part to me was turning around and seeing the wooden plaque above the tomb door that says, ‘He is no longer here.’ That brought things full circle.”
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.