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Destination Spotlight: on why Christians should visit Jerusalem

by | Oct 27, 2021 | Destination spotlight

It was on my third visit to the Holy Land that I learned why Christians travel to Jerusalem. In March, 1974, I was asked to escort Rev. Kash Amburgy from South Lebanon, Ohio to Israel. The good Reverend was not only a preacher, but he was also an entrepreneur who built over 350 homes. He owned a furniture business (Kash’s Big Bargain Barn), was a radio evangelist, and led over 100 tours to the Holy Land as well. His motto for the furniture business was, “Save cash with Kash”. He opened his radio broadcasts saying, “This is Reverend Amburgy, your country preacher, and we are here to praise Jesus.” Mr. Raymond Masillo, our senior vice president, worked with Rev. Amburgy on 16th century illustration of the Church of Holy Sepulchre his annual pilgrimages that averaged between 40 and 250 passengers, until he passed away in 2005. To quote Rev. Amburgy, “Traveling annually to Jerusalem recharges my pastoral batteries.”

16th century illustration of the Church of Holy Sepulchre
The 1974 group was a large one, made up of about 200 participants, including Rev. Amburgy and his wife Mary Louise, and me. Most of the participants were from his home state of Ohio. Flying on El Al via London, our tour started in the north where we visited all of the sites pertaining to Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee.
By the fifth day, we were in Jerusalem and visiting the Garden Tomb. Our guide explained that the Garden Tomb is a rock-cut tomb that was unearthed in 1867 and has been considered by some Christians to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus. The Garden Tomb is adjacent to a rocky escarpment which since the mid-nineteenth century has been proposed by some scholars to be Golgotha. The site is not without controversy, though. The tomb has been dated by prominent Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay to the 8th-7th centuries BC. For some Christians, especially Roman Catholics and other groups, the traditional site where they believe the death and resurrection of Christ occurred has been, since the fourth century, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Our group was at the Garden Tomb, and since we were such a large group, we were able to secure the site for a private worship service. First the guide gave us the tour, and then the communion service began. During Rev. Amburgy’s sermon, some of the passengers started speaking in tongues. Others joined in, until the sound level grew louder and louder. Everyone seemed to feel the spirit except General White, the person in charge of the Garden that day. He came to me and said, “Nicholas, you must stop this!” I looked around. All of our Pilgrims were very involved with the Holy Spirit, praising God and speaking in tongues. There was no way I was going to interrupt. Turning to him, I said, “General White, I don’t have the power to stop this, but you can try.” General White looked around, paused, and said, “Nicholas, you are right; we will wait for the power of God to settle them.” Eventually, the people grew quieter, the service continued, and communion was shared. It was here, at this point, on this day, that I realized Jerusalem’s importance to Christians. Whether the Garden Tomb or the Holy Sepulchre is the exact spot, Jerusalem, itself, is the place where Jesus, our Lord, ministered, and most importantly, suffered for us, died and rose again.

The church of holy sepulchre
Jerusalem, the Holy City, is a universal city, the capital of two peoples, and the shrine of three faiths. For many, it is also the site of Judgment Day. Jerusalem is central to the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Its history spans millennia. Helen, mother of Constantine, came from Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) to Jerusalem with the idea to build churches in the 4th century.
The churches were to commemorate the events in the life of Jesus. For this reason, Christians from every denomination on earth visit Jerusalem and these very churches and sites.

The significance of Jerusalem to Christians cannot be separated from the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people. We are intertwined through our scriptures and spiritual bonds and we share this heritage in Jerusalem as our spiritual capital while Israel also claims it as her national capital. Christians for almost two thousand years have made pilgrimages to Jerusalem, to deepen their faith, to encounter the Holy Spirit in the places where Jesus preached and taught, suffered, died, and rose again. When the Church was born on Pentecost so many years ago, the Holy Spirit appeared to Peter and the disciples, giving them the ability to speak in other languages. They began to gather a crowd, preaching to each in his own language.

The Western Wall and the golden Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel
Today, not all Christians who come to Jerusalem will speak in tongues, but all can know the Holy Spirit as they experience the birthplace of Christianity and foundation of our faith.
-Nick Mancino, President of Journeys Unlimited

Nicholas Mancino has been serving the church through travel for over 50 years, having begun his ministry in travel in the 1960s. He is the cofounder and president of Journeys Unlimited, where he’s helped thousands of fellow Christians encounter the Spirit and bask in Christian fellowship while traveling to the Holy Land and beyond. You can reach Nick with your inquiries by email at nmancino@groupist.com or at 800-486-8359

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