Luverne resident co-leads trip to the Holy Land

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2005

It's a trip all Christians should make at least once in their lives according to Luverne resident Terry Connors.

Connors and David Mount, pastor of New Life Church in Brantley, co-led a tour group to Israel this past December. It was the two men's second such trip, one which traces a path through the Holy Land and follows in the footsteps of

Jesus Christ Himself. The group visited Capernaum, (where Christ's ministry was based), the Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Calvary, the Garden Tomb, and the Sea of Galilee, among other Biblical and historical sites.

Connors calls the entire tour a life-changing event but can name a few of his favorite experiences.

"I'd have to say at least two," he said. "Standing in the Synagogue in Capernaum and visiting the place beside the Sea of Galilee where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount"

In Capernaum, said Connors, visitors are able to walk in the footsteps of Christ as they make there way to house in which his disciple Peter lived.

"You are walking literally on the roadway where He walked, within 10-feet of Peter's house," said Connors. "Just knowing that you're seeing what His eyes saw is an awesome and very moving experience. There's no way to express it. No movie does it justice. You have to physically be there"

Contemporary Christians believe Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount near Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee. In the Sermon, found in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus listed the Beatitudes, (or Beautiful Attitudes), the Lord's

Prayer and other teachings such as "turn the other cheek" and "love thy enemy."

Connors said the site is a natural amphitheater, its oval shape greatly enhancing the natural tone of a man or woman's voice.

"When you stand down near the Sea of Galilee and speak in a normal voice everyone sitting on the mountainside can hear you," he said. "To sit and read the Sermon on the Mount really brings a tear to your eye."

Connors and the group also toured Petra, the Rose City, located in Jordan. Petra was founded sometime in the 6th Century by an Arab tribe. A Swiss explorer, J.L. Burckhardt rediscovered the city of Petra, in 1812. Despite this fact, only one percent of Petra has been excavated and investigated by archaeologists. What has been excavated, including a building known as the Treasury, was featured at the climax of the film, Indiana Jones and the Last


Connors not only followed in the footsteps of Jesus, but also visited Mount Nebo, where Moses was allowed by God to view the Promised Land before his death. The rock, which Moses struck with his rod to bring forth water for the people of Israel, still flows abundantly.

While the terrorist attacks of 9-11 have come and gone, some people still fear traveling abroad, especially with the overall feeling of anger towards the United States among people in the Middle East.

Connors feels fear shouldn't deter someone from making a trip to the Holy Land.

"It's safer over there than it is right here in Luverne," said Connors. "As an example, you're not going to go to the Eastdale Mall (Montgomery) and leave your child sitting there. But you can go to a park in downtown, old Jerusalem and see children playing by themselves as their parents shop in stores around them."

Connors also feels media outlets, such as CNN and other news networks, blows the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of proportion on occasion.

"We went right through this checkpoint that I have seen on television numerous times as being a problem checkpoint," he said. "We had no problem whatsoever."

Connors said while on the Palestinian side, he, Mount and the group were greeted as friends by the Arab merchants selling goods outside.

"David actually asked one about the terrorist bombings we see in television and man told us that the merchants didn't want it to happen anymore than the Israeli's did," Connors said. "Because it hurts business and tourism."