By RACHEL C. DOVE
WHARNCLIFFE - When asked the question of how did their last trip to Israel most affect their lives, Martha Browning said, in a voice filled with emotion, “I now read my Bible in living color.”
Martha, a retired educator, and her husband Dan, who is semi-retired, and several others made their third pilgrimage to Israel in March of this year.
Their first visit to the Middle East was in 2001 and the second took place in 2010. Although it is worrisome to travel outside the U.S. after everything that has happened in recent years, the Browning’s feel that the spiritual uplifting and blessings they receive each and every time they step off the plane onto the land where Jesus walked is well worth any negative experiences they may have encountered.
“There may be problems for those visiting other countries in the Middle East, but we have never felt anything but safe on our trips to Israel,”said Dan.
“In fact, Israel is one of the safest places in the world you can go.”
“We were treated with nothing but kindness and hospitality,” added Martha. “Truthfully, the only rude people we encountered, sad to say, were Americans.”
A few of the locations and landmarks the Browning’s’ visited while they were in Israel were the room in which the Last Supper is said to have taken place; Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified; the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus knelt at a rock and prayed the night he was captured by the Roman soldiers; the Tomb where Jesus’ body lay for three days before he rose from the dead; King David’s Tomb; the City of Jerusalem; Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and several others.
“I can’t put into words how I felt when we were in these places…to say it moves you, or touches your heart would be an understatement,” commented Martha. “It is a spiritually uplifting and a complete fulfillment like I’ve never had before.”
The trip has become increasingly expensive over the past few years, and is now more than $3,000 per person.
“The cost deters a lot of people from taking this trip, but I encourage anyone who can afford it to go,” said Dan. “There’s nothing in the world that can compare to it.”
Dan spoke of how they were often joined by members of other church denominations and beliefs when the group of Christians’ he was with would hold a small service while visiting several of the sites.
“It’s like there are no barriers, no one thinks about whether you’re a Christian, a Catholic or a Jew. We prayed together, we sang together and we worshipped together.
“What an incredible feeling that was!”
The Brownings commented that there are places they were unable to visit because the locations are occupied and controlled by the Arabs, who do not allow visits or tours. One such place was the City of Jericho, and the couple was very hopeful that, if all goes well and they get to make a fourth trip as planned, the situation there may have changed.
“We drove by it on part of a tour, but we weren’t allowed to enter,” explained Martha. “We’re praying that in the future, this won’t be the case.”
The Wharncliffe couple commented on the beauty of Israel, and of the cleanliness and the advanced technology that one may not expect when traveling to the Middle East.
“Every stretch of road is illuminated by one of the best lighting systems I have ever seen,” said Dan. “It’s remarkable to see. Everywhere you look, you see an amazing sight.”
“We want to share this experience with others, let them see Israel through our eyes,” said Martha.
“I look at everything differently now,” concluded Dan. “I always read my Bible and I’ve been a Christian for many a year, but after visiting Israel and seeing it with my own eyes, touching it with my own hands and walking in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior, my world changed.”
“The change made me a better man – and definitely gave me a closer walk with God”.
The Daily News plans to do a second article about the Brownings experience in Israel at a later date, as well as print additional photos from their trip.