THE book of Luke records the account of Jesus’ appearance to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection. Some 2,000 years later, Assemblies of God young people now have the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked through the Emmaus Experience.
The Center for Holy Lands Studies is offering two opportunities this summer for people between the ages of 17 and 20 to visit Israel through the Emmaus Experience tour.
AG National Youth Director Jay Mooney and Southwestern Assemblies of God University professor Darren Daugherty, Ph.D., will lead the May 26-June 6 trip. AG Student Discipleship Director Rod Whitlock and Zion Bible College Professor Paul Conway, M.Div., will lead the July 11-22 trip.
“Students making this journey encounter the voice of the Holy Spirit for their next steps in Christian life,” Mooney states. “The investment is life building at light speed — if at all possible, go!”
The Center for Holy Lands Studies Director Marc Turnage, who has spent many years living and studying in Israel, first traveled to Israel when he was around 20 years old and says that trip had a significant impact on his life. He believes the Emmaus Experience will create similar life-impacting opportunities for AG young people.
“I would hope that the Emmaus Experience trips would ignite a desire to study the Bible in young people,” Turnage says. “That they would realize that the Bible didn’t take place ‘a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’ or ‘once upon a time’, but that it happened in real time and real space. And that if God acted then, and He never changes, He can act today.”
The Emmaus Experience tour is designed to be interactive. Participants will not only visit historic biblical sites, but will also go on a camel trek, visit a recreation of a 1st century Galilean village and bake bread while wearing traditional clothing. As young people study the Bible in its original setting, times for reflection and processing are also built into the schedule.
“Instead of just disseminating information, our desire is that students will come away with the Bible feeling real, tangible – a dirt-under-your-fingernails experience,” says Turnage. “I would like the Emmaus Experience to be a time when God speaks to these young people and reveals Himself to them, so that these trips would become a waypoint that they can look back to throughout their lives.”
General Superintendent Dr. George O. Wood has been a driving force behind the development of the Emmaus Experience tours.
“As I have led tours myself over the years, pastors accompanying me have said repeatedly, ‘I only wish I had done this when I was younger!’ Therefore, I want high school students in our churches to have a life-changing experience in Israel as they encounter the Bible in its geographical, historical and devotional setting,” Wood says.
Turnage emphasizes that safety is a top priority on all Center for Holy Lands Studies tours. A medic is present with every group, as well as guides and drivers who monitor safety on a daily basis. There will be one adult sponsor for approximately every seven young people on the trip.
To learn more about the Emmaus Experience, visit the Center for Holy Lands Studies website.
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Don Davis’ guest column: Dateline Israel