By Morgan Bryce
Through Friends 2 Israel, 34 Opelika residents made a trip to Israel June 19 through 29 to view some of the country’s cultural, historical and religious landmarks.
Started in 2010, Friends 2 Israel is a local group that provides people with opportunities to enjoy a safe, enjoyable trip to the country.
Kevin and Ann Bennett, Chona Lane and Ginger Stern shared their experiences and memories from the trip with the Observer last week.
Highlights of the 10-day trip included trekking up the slopes of Mt. Carmel, boating on the Sea of Galilee, floating weightlessly in the saline-infused Dead Sea, visit to the Mount of Olives where Jesus ascended to Heaven shortly after his resurrection and exploration of cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Ann made her first trip to Israel in April 2017, while Kevin and their son O’Brien traveled there this June.
“What drove my decision to go was the amount of things to do, much more so than there was 30 years ago. Being there gives you a perspective on the past, present and for me, a perspective on the future,” Kevin said.
For Lane, one of the highlights of visiting Israel is the chance to visit sites of Biblical importance, an affirmation of her faith.
“It’s amazing to go there and see where miracles took place and stand where the scriptures come alive in front of you like ‘our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem,’ where archaeology is shaking off the dust to reveal and confirm the Word of God is true and that He can be trusted,” Lane said.
This was the first trip for Stern to Israel, whose family has a deep Jewish heritage and legacy. She said she enjoyed the sites and particularly meals that gave her an authentic glimpse into Israeli cuisine as well as the sightseeing, all the while feeling safe and secure.
“To me, going on a group trip like this, you get a taste of everything. It’s organized and made traveling overseas so easy,” Stern said.
Friends 2 Israel is also active in promoting the Jewish culture in Opelika.
Earlier this year, they hosted former Knesset Member and Rabbi Yehuda Glick for a speaking engagement at First Baptist Church of Opelika, which drew nearly 300 people.
In September, the group is hosting Darryl Hedding of Internal Christian Embassy Jerusalem and Michael Hines of Foundations Church in Williamsburg, Virginia at Opelika’s Purpose Baptist Church for a three-day event Sept. 8 through 10 titled “Come and See ‘Why Israel.”
“Perhaps, what makes (Israel) stand out and be eternally significant is because it’s written in the Bible that it is the land for which the Lord God cares; the eyes of the Lord are always on it, from the beginning even to the end. Come and see,” Lane said about the event.
For more information, call 334-750-5338 or like and follow the group’s Facebook page.