Welcome to the official website of the 2018 Apologetics Study Bible Tour to the Holy Land! 

(Photo of the 2009 CHS students at Casearea Martima)


This trip is being offered to parents, teachers, students, and staff members of Christian High School (CHS) in El Cajon, CA and Capistrano Valley Christian School (CVCS) in San Juan Capistrano, CA only. This trip is coordinated through the two schools by Maranatha Tours and Eric Johnson, who has led three student trips in the past and served as the Bible department head at CHS for many of his 17 years at the school (1993-2010) (see bio below).

For more information about this trip, click the following links:

Why should someone want to come on this trip?

High school students who come to Israel will be able to take ownership of their faith. Instead of seeing the Bible as “make believe” or fictional, the pilgrim is given the opportunity to experience this land in a way that can’t be done on the other side of the world. Come sail on the Sea of Galilee, walk the walls of Jerusalem, and make your way through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Next year’s juniors (2019) and seniors (2018) (and their parents) have signup priority. If there is room, sophomores (2020) are invited as well. This trip is limited to 52 total passengers from Christian High and Capistrano Valley Christian–we’re only taking one bus to maximize everyone’s experience.

Actual comments from previous student travelers

“This trip has so much power to change you!”

“The thrill of walking where Jesus walked and seeing the hills that Jesus preached from…it changes the way you read the Bible. It’s definitely worth it!”

“My experience on this trip was unlike any other. I will never forget what I saw and felt as we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee — I knew I was seeing the same things that Jesus Himself saw. This was the trip of a lifetime and it was worth every cent!”

Click here for a letter written to Eric and Maranatha on 3/6/2017 by a passenger on the 2017 trip.

What comes with the price of this trip?

The price of the trip includes:

  • All taxes and tips! (almost $800 of the trip’s cost!)
  • 3- and 4-star hotels
  • Breakfast/dinner buffets each day
  • 1 lunch (St. Peter’s fish dinner)
  • Dedicated guide / bus /driver
  • Eric Johnson comes along on the trip
  • All admission fees
  • 3 days guided by archaeologist / filmmaker Joel Kramer (tentative)
  • Jericho Unearthed DVD produced by Joel Kramer
  • Personalized “Travel Diary of the Holy Land”
  • Regular emailed updates throughout the year
  • A personalized “50 days Holy Land Devotional” (2015 edition pictured to the left)
  • Devotions from teachers, students and parents every day of the trip!
  • Eric Johnson will return to SOCAL in February 2018 for FREE evening teaching sessions
  • Chartered bus ride from school to/from LAX

Not included:

  • Most lunches (average lunch is $10-12, though travelers are free to make a lunch each morning at breakfast from the breads, cheeses, and meats offered in most buffets)
  • Snacks and waters ($1 a bottle)
  • Souvenirs
  • Insurance ($240 per traveler)

There will be NO “nickel and diming” of passengers on this trip.

Are parents of CHS/CVCS students allowed to come?

Absolutely! It would be wrong that children travel to the Holy Land when the parents have never been! The child and parent(s) will not room together. Unless otherwise desired, students will room with fellow students and adults will room with adults. Priority goes to parents of juniors and seniors and their parents. Also joining us on this trip will be certain administrators, teachers, and staff of each school.

Do we need passports, visas, and shots?

Passports, YES! Your passport should not expire before October 2018 or you will need to renew it. You can apply for a passport at your local post office. Do yourself a favor and obtain this before 2018! Sometimes passport deliveries are delayed and you don’t want to risk it. As far visas and shots, the answer is no to both!

Do we need the insurance policy?

I highly recommend it! This policy has several different coverages. First, it is a medical insurance policy. On two trips, I have had people trip and break or sprain their ankles. On my 2017 trip, the doctor’s bill was $1300 alone! And then the insurance paid for 4 days the tourist was not able to come with the group, resulting in a refund of over $1,000! Second, it is good for a traveler having to cancel because of a medical issue, such as the traveler getting sick or hurt in the weeks preceding the departure date–doctor’s note required. Third, it covers in cases of the trip getting cancelled because of something like a political issue, a natural disaster, etc. Fourth, it cover something such as a lost or broken suitcase. My suitcase was broken by the airline  in 2013 and I filed a claim. I received $200 for a suitcase that I purchased for $10 at a garage sale–I was paid for what the suitcase was worth. In six trips to the Holy Land, I’ve only had one suitcase lost (in 2009), and the company paid for a full replacement of the suitcase and the possessions. For $240, this is the best peace of mind students and parents could ever spend!

What about safety?

I have to be honest, I feel much more safe in Israel, even in the West Bank, than I do in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and yes, even El Cajon! Nobody on my trips has ever felt threatened. I will talk more about safety in the organizational meetings, but please know that, as far as I understand it, no American tourist has been killed or even seriously injured for decades by any terrorist activity while going on a pilgrimage to Israel. The entire time we are in Israel, safety will be our highest priority. If anything is ever happens in a particular area during our trip, we will avoid that place–the guide will be in constant communication with the authorities. We will let the students be aware of possible pickpocket activity in Jerusalem, but honestly there has only been one time in all my trips where anyone has been pickpocketed…and because the student listened to me, her wallet was safe in her buttoned pocket and the pickpocket only got five Kleenex tissues! Also understand that security is all around us, especially in sensitive areas such as Temple Mount and the Western Wall. And security is tighter in the Ben Gurion Airport than anywhere in the world. You and your children will be as safe as possible and much safer than if they were in London, Paris, or Rome. At the bottom of this page, click on “Is it safe to travel in Israel?” as delivered by CUSSD board member Thad (and Melissa) Rothrock in 2012–they will be returning to Israel in 2018–and “Em Patton and Elle McFarland…”

When Eric Johnson returns to Southern California during the last week of Janury, what are some of the topics he might teach on in the evening sessions?

Several possible PowerPoint sessions may include an Introduction to the Holy Land (maps), the Dead Sea Scrolls, Biblical Archaeology, and Understanding Islam. The schedule will be determined at a later date.

What is the price of the trip?

The price of the trip, all inclusive, is $4595.

If you have any questions, please contact Eric: [email protected] He will get back to you within 24 hours.

About trip organizer Eric Johnson:

Photo to the left: Eric with daughters Janelle (now a University of Utah junior) and Carissa (CHS, class of 2010, now employed by Liberty University in Virginia and soon-to-be English teacher at a Christian school) stand on the Mount of Olives overlooking the old city of Jerusalem.

Eric Johnson graduated from Christian High (El Cajon) in 1980. In 1993, he returned to the school as a teacher, serving the Home of the Patriots for 17 years as the Bible department head, Genesis adviser, and JV softball coach. In 2009, he organized his first Holy Land adventure for 45 students, teachers, and parents. This was the first of six trips, including a combined CHS/CVCS trip in 2011 and a CHS trip of 42 in 2012. In fact, more than 200 people, including a dozen pastors, have traveled to the Holy Land with him. They have learned how the Bible speaks about real people and real places while describing historical events. Eric believes that everyone should come to the Holy Land and experience this incredible place for themselves in order to make the Bible come alive. Reading God’s Word will never be the same!

Eric is married to Terri (29 years) and has three daughters. After teaching at CHS for 17 years, he moved to Utah in order to become a full-time Christian missionary to the Mormon people. (Shadow Mountain Community Church is an official supporter of MRM’s President and Founder, Bill McKeever.) He received his Master’s of Divinity degree in 1991 and has written several books: Answering Mormons Questions (with Bill McKeever, Kregel, 2013), Mormonism 101 (with Bill McKeever, Baker Books, 2015), and Mormonism 101 for Teens (MRM, 2016). He is a regular contributor to the Christian Research Journal and was a contributor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (Holman, 2010). Since 2015 he has taught at Alta Christian Seminary (for high school students), which he and a local pastor founded. They meet twice a week before school begins at Alta High School in Sandy, UT to study the Bible and apologetics. Eric and his family hosted several CVCS week-long mission trips in their home in 2013 and 2015.

Eric will be coming on this trip to serve the schools visiting Israel to work closely with the guide and driver and ensure the time in Israel is maximized. He will also come to Southern California in April 2017 to present the trip and next year (February 2018) to teach evening classes on topics related to the Holy Land. He looks forward to working with his good friends at Christian High (including Vice Principal Orlando Duarte and Superintendent Pat McCarty) and Capistrano Christian (including Bible teacher Aaron Bond).

Photo to the left: Eric stands in front of the Pontius Pilate inscription and the Caiphas family ossuary located in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Photo to the right: Eric and daughter Hannah on the CHS/CVCS trip in 2011 after Hannah’s baptism in the Jordan River

Previous trips to Israel taken by Eric Johnson

  • 1990 (passenger on a tour led by Dr. Ronald Youngblood, translator of the 1978 New International Version — see photo at left)
  • 2009 (CHS): 47 students, teachers, parents, staff (including teachers Randy Goen and then-student Jacob Smith)
  • 2011 (CHS and CVCS): 38 students, teachers, parents, staff (including CVCS teacher Sean McDowell and his wife)
  • 2012 (CHS): 43 students, teachers, parents, staff (including teacher Cindy Albert, Principal Sally Beier, and Superintendent Chuck Leslie and his two sons, CUSSD board member Thad Rothrock–in fact, Thad and his wife Melissa along with their senior daughter will be coming on the 2018 trip!)
  • 2013 (Adult): 45 travelers, including several pastors
  • 2015 (Adult): 18 travelers
  • 2017 (Adult): 55 travelers, including five pastors (Feb-March 2017)
  • 2018 (Adult): 29 travelers going in February 2018
  • 2018 (CHS and CVCS): 57 passengers (maximum), including students, teachers, parents, staff.

Please, I encourage you to talk to anyone who has been on one of my previous trips and they will tell you, “Go!” It will be something you never regret.

Some videos to help you understand more about this trip!

Biblical archaeologist Joel Kramer is scheduled to join us for 3 full days!

Check out his website and also check out several dozen videos taken on location throughout Israel, including sites we will visit on our 2018 trip!

  • A series of 16 episodes from the February 2015 Israel trip
  • A series of 26 episodes from the February 2013 Turkey/Israel trip

Note: Joel’s participation in this trip is tentative until it can be confirmed later this summer, but otherwise he plans to join us!

Check out these videos taken on the 2017 Apologetics Bible Tour to the Holy Land! (sites on the 2018 itinerary)