Are you thinking about visiting the Holy Lands to learn more about the Bible? It's an experience that could totally change your life - but if you have never visited before... here are four tips to keep in mind as a Christian traveler.
1. You Are More Than "A Tourist"
You are a Christian. In Israel, less than 2% of the population knows Christ as their Savior. How you act and interact is being observed. While many people go on pilgrimages to Jerusalem to visit sites associated with their Jewish or Muslim beliefs - you are coming here as a representative of Christ.
2. Businesses Will Be Closed
If you come from a Western country, you may be used to most business being open 7 days a week - if not six. Well, in Israel, there are many belief systems celebrated on different days of the week, meaning that businesses will be closed at different times. Jews will close shop on Friday afternoons and Saturdays, Muslims will close up on Saturdays, and Christians on Sundays. So, keep this in mind when making your itinerary!
3. Be Prepared To Bargain
Many of us have gentle spirits and don't want to cheat someone out of their money. That is kind - but the expectation here is that haggling is a part of the process of purchasing goods. The closer you are to tourist hot spots - the higher the prices will be. If you have a connection with a local - they can be a good starting point for best places to shop and give you good guidelines for what a "good price" looks like. On the other hand, do your research ahead of time so that you can be prepared.
4. Take Time To Reflect
It can be tempting to see the sites, take pictures, and then move onto the next spot as though these Biblical spots only have historical significance. But as Christians - we know that God is eternal (past, present, and future) - therefore there are things we can learn from still today. For instance - when you cross the Sea of Galillee - reflect on what fears have made you question if God loved you. Or when you are walking to the Road of Suffering (Gethsemane to the Cross) - reflect on the definition of sacrifice and the sins you committed that put Jesus on that cross.
These suggestions only begin to scratch the surface. If you are looking for ideas on what to do while you are in Israel - watch or listen to podcast episode 153 where we talked about 5 Sites To See Related To The Easter Story!