Have you ever wanted to make it available to have your Christian high school travel to Israel? Would you like a Evangelical Christian minister/missionary serving full-time ministry in Utah who has previously led 8 groups to Israel (since 2009) do all the work and provide benefits to the staff of the home? This might be the perfect opportunity.
This page is dedicated to giving you a general idea of what could be done if your school is interested. Please look through this and see if you have any questions.
Why should a Christian want to travel to Israel?
Traveling to Israel is one of the best investments a Christian could ever make in his or her spiritual life. This is because the Bible comes alive in a Bible-based trip. Because of this, I LOVE taking Christian school parents and students along with the school’s administrators and teachers together for a journey they will never forget. A person’s relationship with Jesus becomes closer as we walk in the same places talked about in our Bibles. Geography becomes understandable. It becomes obvious that this land involves real places, real people, and, while it takes faith in some instances, real events. I promise that the person who comes to Israel will be a changed individual. What a great place to have a high school student “own his or her own faith”! For more, check out 7 reasons why you ought to consider coming to the Holy Land
It sounds like a lot of work for our school or staff. We’re busy during the school year. Why should we burden ourselves with a trip like this when we hardly have time for our daily activities?
I worked at a Christian school for 17 years, including a number as the Bible department head. So I fully understand this question. But here’s the wonderful thing about what I am proposing: I would do 90% of all the work! This would include:
- Putting together the itinerary/proposal
- Working hand-in-hand with a professional Christian travel agency (not mine) with years of experience in trips like this *
- Working with a representative from the school (possibly a Bible or History teacher)
- Once the proposal is approved, helping to sell the trip to the students and their parents50 days holy land journal feb 2018 cebc pdf **
- Working with the agency to get the sign ups
- When problems arise, the agency and I work together to take care of the vast majority of issues
- Email communication with the travelers for the duration of the time before the trip, including teaching via video, reading materials, etc; helping prepare the travelers mentally and spiritually; providing information on what to expect, including tips on traveling to Israel; and much more
- Providing a 50 days prayer journal (see example from my 2018 CEBC trip) so everyone would have as we read through biblical passages and pray for different things (including each traveler) before we depart
- Providing a special travel diary that provides the itinerary and a place to write some notes
- If 30 or more travelers sign up, then I would accompany you on the trip and take care of all the minute details (working with a professional guide) to make sure everyone’s needs are met (my trip can be included in the cost of the trip and would not cost the retirement home any benefits)
- By involving me in this trip, there will be very little for your people to do!
* The full-service agency will take care of the majority of all details, including registering the travelers, receiving their money, flights/hotels/guide/bus and driver, etc.
** Arrangements can be made to have me visit the school to sell the trip in person with a PowerPoint presentation–most effective!
Who could come on this trip?
Generally, I suggest sophomores through seniors. If necessary, freshman can also be invited, but generally I have found that the older students appreciate (and understand) the trip much more than the underclassmen. A person should have the physical ability to walk 3-6 miles a day. Besides students, others who could come be parents and grandparents of the students and possibly older siblings who already graduated from high school. Generally, I do not recommend children (relatives) under 6th grade should come because, quite frankly, they become easily bored no matter how exciting the sites.
Generally, the quoted price would include the following:
- Round trip air fare from a major international airport *
- 4-star hotels throughout the trip, with full service at each
- Breakfasts and dinners, buffet style, at the hotels
- A St. Peter’s fish lunch one day in the Sea of Galilee
- Full-time licensed guide, dedicated to our group
- Full-time bus and its driver, dedicated to our group
- All site admission fees (for what is covered in the itinerary)
- All taxes and tips (distributed for the group by the trip representative each day we’re there)
- A DVD (Jericho Unearthed) and an awesome book for every traveling family
- Travel diary of the Holy Land, specifically for this trip (designed and produced by Eric Johnson)
- Email correspondence throughout the trip from Eric Johnson, including teaching, tips, video links, etc
- A 50-day Devotional Preparation Guide (given PDF)
- If enough people sign up, a trip representative (me) who makes sure the group is on schedule and details are met
- Possibly a biblical archaeologist for three days (if the timing of the trip is right)
- And so much more!
* We can arrange to have a connector to the major international airport, including a flight or bus ride from the school to the airport
- Passport fees
- Optional insurance (a policy is available and is recommended–this could be added into the price if the retirement home wants everyone to have the insurance)
- Most lunches
The price is built so there is NO nickel and diming of the travelers. Everything listed above is paid in advance.
For every five full-paying passengers, your school receives one complimentary trip (without the insurance policy). This is a huge benefit. Thus, if your home brings 30 full-time passengers (including the students and parents), your school received six free trips. You can divide that however you want, including using one trip as half scholarships for two people. Those administrators and teachers would be the official chaperones, including making sure folks are up each morning, their needs are being met, or whatever is needed. It’s a great incentive for your staff to possibly be able to travel to the Holy Land for free or possibly half off!
In addition, there is plenty of positive public relations good will generated with the faculty and students/parents when your Christian agency goes the extra length to make a trip like this possible. They will greatly appreciate the opportunity to travel together to the Holy Land.
What would a possible itinerary look like?
Before I put your itinerary together, I would communicate with the leaders of your home and determine the sites you would like to see. Below is a general 11- to 14-day itinerary, obviously subject to change:
Day 1: Leave (fly away) to Israel
Day 2: Time change of 10 or 11 hours plus the flight, we probably don’t get to a Tel Aviv area hotel until the evening–depending on our flight.
Hotel: Tel Aviv area (preferably on the beach)
Day 3: We usually hit the road right away and visit sites such as:
- Caesarea Martima (on the Mediterranean Sea)
- Megiddo (“Armageddon”)
- Nazareth Village (recreation of a Nazareth village from the days of Jesus)
- Bet’ Shean
Hotel: Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) Day 1
Day 4: (Optional Day: Depending on whether your school would like 11 total days or 12) Northern Galilee
- Caesarea Philippi
- Golan Heights
Hotel: Tiberias Day 2
Day 5: Sea of Galilee
- Baptisms at the Jordan River (1st of 2 ordinances practiced)
- St. Peter’s Fish Lunch
- Mt of Beatitudes
- Sea of Galilee boat ride
Hotel: Tiberias Day 3
Day 6: Travel to Dead Sea
- Ein Gedi (David’s Waterfall)
- Dead Sea Resort (swimming in the Dead Sea/hotel spas)
Hotel: Dead Sea Resort Hotel
Day 7: Travel to Jerusalem
- Camel ride
Hotel: Jerusalem Day 1
Day 8: Jerusalem
- Rabbi Tunnel Tour (Western Wall)
- Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock)
- Southern Steps
- Pool of Bethesda (St. Anne’s Church)
- Israel Museum
Hotel: Jerusalem Day 2
Day 9: Areas north of Jerusalem (optional)
- Jacob’s Well
Hotel: Jerusalem Day 3
Day 10: Jerusalem
- City of David/Hezekiah’s Tunnel
- Mt. of Olives
- Church of All Nations (Garden of Gethsemane)
- Church of the Holy Sepulcher
- Garden Tomb (Communion celebrated, second of two ordinances practiced)
Hotel: Jerusalem Day 4
Day 11: Free day in Jerusalem OR we can schedule a few more places and give a free afternoon. It is night to have at least half a day for folks to shop or see what they would like, on their own. It works out very well.
Hotel: Jerusalem Day 5
Day 12: Fly home from Israel
This is just a typical layout of a trip to Israel. Many adjustments would be made and we can cater to whatever the school administration would like. I am happy to talk through the options and other sites we could see.
It’s recommended that this trip take place during Spring (Easter) break. If the school is willing to go a few weeks before Easter, that is best to avoid large crowds during Holy Week, especially when it lands on the week of Passover. Reasons why Spring Break works the best:
- Thanksgiving week: Families generally want to be together
- Christmas: The shortest days of the year and it can be crowded, with possible bad weather
- Summer (even late May or June): It can become too hot and make the trip miserable
I have had very good success with Spring breaks, having taken four different trips. During my high school trip in 2018, the crowds were fewer than what I had experienced a few weeks earlier with an adult group!
Our school is interested. So what is the next step?
Please contact me at my email, [email protected], and we can talk further about the possibilities. References of past school/church leaders I’ve taken to Israel are available upon request.
Below are some additional information where you do some research, including my bio as well as the testimonies of recent travelers.
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 that he led. 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, including 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 the co-editor of a book that will be released in June 2018 titled Sharing the Good News with Mormons (Harvest House), co-edited with Sean McDowell. He is a regular contributor to the Christian Research Journal and was a contributor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (Holman, 2010).
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 organized to Israel by Eric Johnson
- 1990 (passenger on a tour led by Dr. Ronald Youngblood, my professor at Bethel Seminary San Diego and a translator of the 1978 New International Version — see photo at right)
- 2009 (CHS): 47 students, teachers, parents, staff from Christian High School (CHS) in El Cajon, CA in April
- 2011 47 students, teachers, parents, staff from three different Christian high schools in March
- 2012 (CHS): 43 students, teachers, parents, staff from CHS in March
- 2013 (Adult): 45 adult travelers, including several pastors, in February
- 2015 (Adult): 18 adult travelers in February
- 2017 (Adult): 55 adult travelers in February, including five pastors (Feb-March 2017)
- 2018 (Adult): 29 adult travelers in February, including members from Clairemont Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Diego
- 2018 (CHS/CVCS) 57 students and parents from two different Christian schools in March
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.
Check out these videos of possible places we can visit on this trip
- Bet Shean
- Baptisms at the Jordan River (if you haven’t been baptized, you too can participate in this very important ordinance)
- Mount of Beatitudes
- Jesus Boat and a Boat Ride on the Sea of Galilee
- Israel Museum
- Ramparts (Jerusalem’s Walls)
- Western Wall
- Western Wall
- Amazing Grace in St. Anne’s Church
- Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane
- Temple Mount
- Church of the Holy Sepulcher
- City of David
- Hezekiah’s Tunnel by Eric Johnson as well as comments by students afterward
- Bethel and Ai
- Jericho and Qumran
- Climbing Cave 1 in Qumran (with Joel Kramer) by Eric Johnson
- Inside Cave 1 in Qumran by Eric Johnson
Video Testimonies about this trip
- Thad Rothrock: Is it safe to travel to Israel?
- Russ and Karen Vande Vegte (February 2018)
- Jim and Shelley Anderson (February 2018)
“There are no words to express the appreciation we have for this most outstanding trip-of-a-lifetime. Our hearts and minds are overflowing with new, deeper knowledge of the land and history of our precious Savior and Father. All glory to Him!!” –Shelly Anderson
- Pastor Kenny Dodd (February 2018)
- CHS Parent Cameron Owens (March 2018)
- CHS student Jack Mason (March 2018)
- CUSSD Superintendent Pat McCarty (March 2018)
“As I reflect back on our amazing trip and continue to try to adjust for the time zone change (smile), I just wanted to drop you a note and thank-you for the incredible journey you led. As people have been asking me about our time in Israel I am finding that it is so very difficult to put into words the dramatic impact that it had strengthening my faith and opening my understanding of God’s Word.”–Pat McCarty