Never having been to the Middle East, or really anywhere very far from home in the U.S., a couple of friends and I were intrigued with the thought of visiting the Promised Land. We saw a promotion to go with Dan and Sharon with an organization we knew through our study of God’s Word, and we were compelled enough to book a tour. As the date approached, the idea that sounded so good as “something to do someday”, was becoming a reality and I was growing increasingly hesitant (at best) and fearful (at least). Then, salvation occurred; a hurricane hit the east coast, shutting down airports and canceling flights…..a sure sign from God that this planned tour was a bad idea, right? Although I had basically paid for the trip, I valued my life and peace of mind as worth much more than the price of the tour, and intended to bow out. Fortunately (I can use that term now), this woman Sharon, whom I never met, was extremely persistent and persuasive and we reluctantly rerouted our flights so that we could make it to Tel Aviv.
Israel was nothing like what I expected; for such a small piece of land, the country itself ranges from deserts to mountains with beautiful bodies of water (the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River), the people are kind and engaging, the accommodations are extremely comfortable, the food is incredible (with all types from all around the world), and most importantly, it was VERY safe!
Dan and Sharon Stolebarger have vetted the best places to stay and see, employ only the best of the best guides (Jane and Yaniv), the best driver (Yossi), and have many deep relationships with local people (some of whom are very prominent in Jewish/Christian/Government communities) who also participate in or speak during portions of these tours, providing an experience that is second to none. The relationships they have carefully cultivated throughout the years transforms this trip into much more than a simple sightseeing tour or an amazing bible study.
Whereas Sharon is largely responsible for the logistics of the tours, seamlessly taking groups from one town to another throughout the land, Dan leads the spiritual aspect of most of the explorations. It is at these times that I experienced God’s Word transition from black and white to high definition color….I can assure you participating in one of these explorations will forever change how you read God’s Word, and will give you great appreciation for the struggles that the people in Israel are experiencing today.
Aside from the intriguing attributes of the land and the exploration of ancient, biblical sites, there’s something that can’t necessarily be quantified about Israel other than to say that with good reason it is called by God himself as His Chosen Land. For me, the notion of coming to Israel started as an idea, then manifested into something akin to a “bucket-list” type trip; but has ultimately resulted into an indescribable passion. I have now had the blessing of being able to come to Israel numerous times on tours and service projects, and have developed friendships with many people in the land, as well as with Dan and Sharon. I could not more strongly encourage participating in a tour with Holy Ground Explorations. You’ll come back forever impacted by the awesome experience with which you’ll be provided….and may find that you are drawn to come back again and again.
— Andrew (USA)