Dns Diana Chan
Glory be to the Holy One of Israel, our Redeemer! I thank God for His grace, mercy and strength in enabling me to join the Bible Witness Israel Bible Study Tour 2023. The main reason for me joining the tour is that I would like to visit Gethsemane BPC, Ethiopia, which was our transit point on our way to Israel.
When we were in Ethiopia, it was a joy to meet Rev Ephrem, Pr Engida, and the other preachers and their family members, as well as several of the church brethren! It was so heart-warming to see how the brethren were so formally attired, so cheerful and ready to receive us in the church in Alem Gena. I praise God that both the brethren from Ethiopia and Singapore could congregate for fellowship and worship led by Pastor Ephrem. Pastor Koshy preached the Word of God in that meeting. Pr Cornelius led our Church Choir members in the team to give a song presentation.
Thank God also for the Christian hospitality of the Ethiopian brethren who hosted us to a lovely lunch.
I thank God for Pastor and Dn Lok for their labour in planning and organising the tour, even having to make ad-hoc changes during our journey. Thank God for His grace, good health and protection throughout the trip. Praise God for the unity, encouragement and care for one another. It was encouraging to see the stronger adults helping and supporting our senior brethren, especially in manoeuvring difficult terrain and steps. Special mention must be made of the young adults who constantly availed themselves, ever ready to provide additional help.
Praise the Lord for the lessons learnt from GBI on the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah, as well as 1 Samuel. Biblical history was brought to life as we journeyed through the land of the Old and New Testaments. The various sites, such as the wilderness of Judea, Ziph, and Gibeah, brought to mind how David and his six hundred men had to flee from King Saul and his three thousand soldiers in the wilderness, desert, hills and caves. Praise God for preserving His servant, David, and his loyal men. Indeed, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Almost every morning, before embarking on the journey, we would assemble in quietude in a room. Pastor would lead us in singing, devotion and prayer, and remind us to focus our minds on God in the Bible Study tour. I also thank God for the culminating point at the end of our tour, which was our worship in the chapel at the Garden Tomb. We had Holy Communion, in remembrance of God’s plan of salvation for mankind through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, for our sins. May the remembrance of the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, continue to spur us to love the Lord, trust in Him and serve Him.
To God be the glory, great things He had done!
I really thank God for a wonderful time in Israel as part of the Bible Witness Israel Bible Study Tour 2023. It was a blessed eight days in the Promised Land, tracing biblical events in God’s promised land for Israel. Visiting the Promised Land has always been my earnest desire, and I am thankful to the Lord for the answered prayer to go as a family this year. God has provided for all our needs along the way, and given us the strength to carry the little ones in all our travels. Praise the Lord for endurance, safety and good health. Each day was fast-paced and filled with many places to see – from Joppa (near Tel Aviv) to the Sea of Galilee and the surrounding towns where Jesus had ministered. Enroute to Jerusalem, we crossed through the Judean wilderness (present-day West Bank), walked through the old city and the city of David, and visited significant sites around the Dead Sea.
The Bible indeed comes alive! Most places we visited were archaeological excavations of biblical cities, and various locations of biblical events. I was struck by the beauty of the land: the olive trees and palm dates, vast lakes and bountiful springs, as well as the rolling wilderness and arid weather. I loved its topography: vast hills and valleys, deserts, plains, lakes and seas – places which our Saviour trod and travelled across during His earthly ministry. Above all the sights, most of which are overrun by sheer idolatry and vendors seeking the tourist dollar, one thing stands out clear to all who believe in the Truth: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
Finally, I thank God for our very knowledgeable Jewish tour guide who, along with Pastor’s daily devotions, made the trip an in-depth Bible Study in a moving “classroom”. May our continual prayer be: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces” (Psalm 122:6-7).
Pr Cornelius Koshy
I thank God for the grand opportunity to go through Ethiopia and visit the brethren who serve in the Gethsemane Church and GBI campus in Alem Gena. Ethiopian Airlines’ resumption of the route from Singapore to Tel Aviv (through Addis Ababa) was just in time for the BW Study Tour to Israel – praise the LORD! As Paul says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). We seized this opportunity to show our love to our fellow Ethiopian brethren (cf. Rom 12:9a – “Let love be without dissimulation”), and to spend time in worship and thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness through the past 17 years! I also thank God for nine GCC singers who cheerfully sang the encouraging hymn, “He Leadeth Me”, bringing a part of Singapore-style singing to brethren in Ethiopia. The whole team was treated to a sumptuous spread of authentic Ethiopian cuisine, which was concluded with live-roasted, ground and brewed Ethiopian coffee!
The bus ride back to Bole International Airport for our connecting flight to Israel was a test of faith! We did not anticipate an afternoon traffic congestion, and many of us were anxious because we had only about two hours to travel back to the capital (Addis Ababa), get our luggage and check in to the next flight. Some urged the driver to “go fast!”; others tried to contact the airline. Everyone prayed earnestly, and when we finally reached the airport, Pastor led us in a prayer of thanksgiving, and the team moved quickly as one unit to the gate. We praise the Lord for truly, “He leadeth me, O blessed thought … By his own hand, he leadeth me!”
On a personal note, I thank God for this third visit to the Holy Land, which strengthened my geographical knowledge of the biblical accounts. At each site, I was transported back to its biblical narratives, and my heart was encouraged by the spiritual lessons and promises attached to each location. There was also a renewal of eschatological anticipation for Christ’s return during this trip. Apart from visiting Megiddo, where the nations’ armies would gather to battle Christ (Rev 16:16), we spent an hour in a private garden in Gethsemane, on the western slope of Mt Olive. This was a special booking made possible by the tour agent. Gethsemane (church) was in Gethsemane (cf. Luke 22:42)! Pastor exhorted from Zechariah 12-14 and we contemplated Christ’s second coming, which would unfold in the very space and land where we were. Such contemplations, made in meaningful places, tend to be etched deeply and enduringly in one’s mind.
May the joys of living in Christ and our love for Him endure all the way till He calls us home, or when He returns! All glory be to God!