Polson pastors visit Holy Land
For many, visiting the Holy Land is a dream come true. For one local Pastor it was the fulfillment of a lifelong journey.
Pastor Jason Burrough, the Restoring Hope and Student Ministry Pastor at New Life Church in Polson, was able to visit the Holy Land this past January on a pilgrimage with his Lead Pastor, Chriss Sopke. The trip included many special destinations that were filled with moments of silence, tears, prayers, and meditation.
Pastor Jason describes his pilgrimage as a “… trip unlike any other trip I have ever taken. To walk the same steps, smell the same smells, see the same landscapes as Jesus Christ, the Disciples, Moses, and the other countless biblical heroes of mine made me speechless several times during the trip.”
On this trip, sponsored by local Palestinian-Christian Elias Nawawieh and Good Shephard Travel, Pastors Jason and Chriss were able to experience what life would have been like in the times before and after Christ during the Roman Empire, including a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
This part of the journey was especially special to Pastor Jason because it is where one of his favorite Bible stories was located. According to the gospel of Matthew, chapter 8 verses 23-34, Jesus calms the waters of Galilee and rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith after they panic after sailing into a storm. Pastor Jason explained why this story speaks to him.
“This is an amazing story that reminds us that even in the storms of life, when we feel like we are blown off course, or about to go down with the ship, God loves us and always has a plan," Pastor Jason said. "How amazing it was to stand on a boat looking at the shores of where this moment happened, wow.”
The pastors made several additional stops around the Holy City of Jerusalem: the Holy Church of the Sepulcher where the Catholic Church believes Jesus' tomb is located; the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was betrayed by Judas; and the narrow, ancient streets where Christ carried his cross to his crucifixion.
The journey provided a glimpse into the culture of Israel and the pilgrim group was able to visit the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall.
“I never thought I would be able to approach the wall and spend a few minutes of prayer. I prayed for peace and unity for the Holy Land (and) also spent a few minutes praying for my wife and family," Pastor Jason said. "Tears streamed down my face. I literally had to pinch myself — I was praying at the Western Wall.”
Pastor Jason and the pilgrims also experienced what it was like to float in the muddy and salty Dead Sea, located at nearly 1,300 feet below sea level and one of the lowest places on earth.
A short distance from the Dead Sea they were able to explore the area around a complex of 12 to 13 caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1946-1956. They also were able to visited the Jordan River and watched as pilgrims were baptized in the muddy river.
They also enjoyed riding a Camel named “Kojack” on the Mount of Olives and walked the very same streets that Jesus walked as a young boy in the city of Nazareth. Prior to going on his pilgrimage, Pastor Jason invested in a smart watch to track his steps each day. Each day he walked at least 15-20 thousand steps and climbed almost 50 flights of stairs.
Pastor Jason encourages everyone to attend a Holy Land Pilgrimage. "I think as a preacher of the Gospel it is beneficial … (to) see the Bible come alive," he said.
If you would like to tour the Holy Land, Pastor Jason invites you on their next Pilgrimage in September. “Our goal is to offer this trip to people from all over our community and the surrounding area, no matter church affiliation, background, or belief. We don’t feel like we would be doing what we are called to do if we only offered it to people within New Life Church.” For more information about the Holy Land Experience please contact Pastor Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (406) 883-2447.