NCC Journey to Israel
Do you ever feel confused when you read the Bible? Do you feel like you are missing things the author intended for you to understand? Would you like to gain clarity and confidence reading the Bible? Would you like to encounter God in the lands of the Bible?
Join Pastor Heather Zempel and Pastor Nina Schmidgall from National Community Church for this exciting ten day expedition of Israel. Walk in the footsteps of Jesus as you explore the lands where He and the disciples walked. Explore sites familiar from the Scriptures, such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Sea of Galilee, and many more.
Join us as we use the world of the Bible to help you understand the words of the Bible.
Expedition ID: 24-06.2
While in the Galilee you will have the opportunity to get baptized in the Jordan River, visit Capernaum, Nazareth, and Caesarea and encounter the breathtaking view from Mount Carmel where Elijah challenged the prophets of Ba'al.
Visit Masada, the desert palace-fortress built by Herod the Great, encounter Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and then venture on to float in the Dead Sea.
In Jerusalem you will witness the majesty of the Temple Mount, the beloved Southern Wall where Jesus actually walked, explore the City of David, participate in the The Jerusaelm Sifting Project and experience the beautiful overlook from the Mount of Olives.
Enjoy a chef-style restaurant farewell dinner prior to departure.
Please note that this route does not reflect every site that will be visited.
Nina Schmidgall was raised in northern California, in the heart of the Silicon Valley. She originally moved to the nation’s capital to work for the United States Congress which she did for just under a decade. After many years as the Family Ministry Pastor at National Community Church, Nina now serves as the NCC Pastor of Ministries. She is also the Director of Church Partnerships for the newly launched Dream Collective - a network of church leaders, artists, and entrepreneurs. Check it out at thedreamcollective.com.
Growing up in California, Nina is a graduate of Westmont College in beautiful Santa Barbara. She received her Master’s in Ministerial Leadership from Southeastern University in Lakeland Florida. Nina is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Missiology through Southeastern University.
Nina and her husband Joel are the authors of Praying Circles Around Your Marriage. They are raising their three incredible kids on Capitol Hill, just steps from the United States Capitol and around the corner from at least five great coffee shops.
Heather Zempel is passionate about making disciples, cultivating community, and curating experiences that expand the horizons of possibility. With a background in biological engineering and experience as a policy advisor in the United States Senate, she brings a unique perspective to ministry leadership.
For twenty years, Heather served as the Discipleship Pastor and Ministries Director at National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, DC. Now, she leads NCC’s Dream Collective, an incubator for dreamers and a community of pastors, entrepreneurs, and artists who long for revival in the church, reformation in the Kingdom, and renaissance in culture.
Heather is the author of several books, including Community is Messy, Amazed and Confused and Big Change, Small Groups. She loves watching football, finding the best BBQ joints, and trekking through National Parks with her husband Ryan and energetic daughter Sawyer Elizabeth.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 19, 2024 Depart USA THURSDAY JUNE 20, 2024 Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, our representative will meet you in the arrival hall to assist you with your luggage. You will meet your guide and bus and travel to your hotel on the Mediterranean coast. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. FRIDAY JUNE 21, 2024: The Galilee of Jesus Our morning begins at the port-city of Caesarea built by Herod the Great (Matt. 2). This was the second largest harbor in the Roman Empire during the first century. At Caesarea, Peter visited the gentile centurion Cornelius (Acts 10), and he and his household became the first gentile followers of Jesus. The Apostle Paul remained under house arrest in Caesarea for two and a half years. Here he stood before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa II (Acts 23-25). From the harbor of Caesarea, Paul sailed to Rome leaving Israel for the last time. While at the site, we will visit the ancient theater with its magnificent view overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We will see Herod the Great’s palace that served as the residence of the Roman officials in the land, like Pontius Pilate. We will remember Pilate’s governorship of Judaea by looking at a replica of a stone inscription mentioning Pilate dedicating a temple to the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Our visit takes us through the ancient stadium and harbor and ends looking at the ancient aqueduct of Caesarea that supplied the city with its water. After departing Caesarea, we travel to a fun learning and engaging experience: Kefar Kedem. Here we will experience the land of the Bible in a unique way as we learn about shepherding, making bread as they did in the time of the Bible. The flora of biblical Israel comes alive within this small park as the Bible is illuminated as we learn how the land was so important in writing the Bible. Our day concludes at the boyhood home of Jesus, Nazareth. We visit the Church of the Annunciation, built over the traditional place where the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-37). The church is built on top of the ancient village of Nazareth, and we will visit a small museum that shows some of the finds and homes from the village. We will end our visit in Nazareth with an overlook of the Jezreel Valley from Mount Precipice. From this vantage point, we will see the settings for a number of biblical stories. Dinner and overnight at our hotel on the Sea of Galilee. SATURDAY JUNE 22, 2024: “Who do men say that I am?” Today we travel into the Golan Heights and the upper Jordan Valley. Our day begins at the nature reserve of Dan. The ancient city of Dan, which formed the northern boundary of biblical Israel, sits on the Dan Spring, one of the three tributaries of the Jordan River. In addition to walking through the beautiful nature reserve, we will visit the ancient site of Dan seeing its high place (1 Kings 12:29), Israelite gate, and the Middle Bronze Age gate from the time of Abraham (Gen. 14:14). Next we travel to Banias, ancient Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13; Mark 8:27). In the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” From Banias, we drive up into the foothills of Mount Hermon (Ps. 133) and into the Golan Heights. At a high overlook on the Israel-Syrian border, we look into Syria towards Damascus. Dinner and overnight on the Sea of Galilee. SUNDAY JUNE 23, 2024: The Ministry of Jesus Our journey today focuses upon the ministry of Jesus around the Sea of Galilee. Our morning begins at Katzrin, a Talmudic village located in the Golan Heights that has been reconstructed to help guests visualize ancient villages in Galilee and Golan, like those Jesus traveled to and ministered. We next travel by jeeps through the Beitsaida Valley where the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee, and where Jesus fed the 5,000 (Luke 9:10-17). People will have the opportunity for water baptism. Our journey takes us to Chorazin one of the three cities cursed by Jesus (Matt. 11:21; Luke 10:13). At this site, we see the ancient homes and Jewish ritual immersion pools, as well as the magnificent basalt synagogue from the fifth century AD. Inside the synagogue is a replica of a Seat of Moses (Matt. 23:2). We travel next to the ancient town of Capernaum where Jesus made his home around the lake (Matt. 4:13). Here he healed the centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5). The magnificent limestone synagogue of the fourth century AD has been party reconstructed and looms over the site. From Capernaum, we travel to the small museum at Kibbutz Ginnosar that houses an ancient boat discovered in the 1980s in the Sea of Galilee. This boat dates to the first century and was a boat used by fisherman on the lake. Our day concludes with an evening boat-ride on the Sea of Galilee. The ancient fishermen fished the lake at night. Riding on the waters of the lake in the evening offers a unique opportunity to connect with Jesus and his disciples on the lake. Dinner and overnight at the hotel on the Sea of Galilee. MONDAY JUNE 24, 2024: Desert Refuge Today we drive from the Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater lake in the world, through the Jordan River Valley, to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. Our first stop is the desert palace-fortress built by Herod the Great, Masada. During the First Jewish Revolt (AD 66-73), Jewish rebels lived on Masada until they were surrounded by the Tenth Roman Legion. According to the first century Jewish historian Josephus, the rebels chose to commit suicide instead of slavery and death at the hands of the Romans. While visiting the site, we will see the palaces of Herod the Great, his bath houses and storerooms. We will also see buildings converted by the Jewish rebels for their use, like the synagogue. Evidence of the Roman siege can be seen in the siege ramp and Roman camps that surround Masada. We travel next to Qumran. In caves around the site, the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Qumran was the settlement of the community that produced many of the Dead Sea Scrolls. After visiting Qumran, participants have the unique experience of floating in the Dead Sea. Our day ends with an overlook of the Wadi Qilt, the ancient road between Jerusalem and Jericho. This was the setting for Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). On Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem, he used this road as he came from Jericho to Jerusalem (Luke 19:1-11). Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem. TUESDAY JUNE 25, 2024: In the Footsteps of Kings and Prophets We begin our morning visiting Nebi Samwil. Incorrectly identified as the tomb of the prophet Samuel, from this his hill we will see the northern neighborhoods of Jerusalem. We will also look over the tribal territory of Benjamin, where two-thirds of the Old Testament took place. Our vantage point offers us a view of the modern Arab village of el-Jib, biblical Gibeon (Josh. 10). While defending Gibeon against five Amorite kings, Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still. We continue into the Shephelah (Deut. 1:7), an area of rolling hills between Israel’s hill country and the Mediterranean coast. We visit the interactive biblical preserve of Neot Kedumim. Here families will learn about the flora and fauna of biblical Israel, and how the plants and animals of the Bible shaped so many of its stories, psalms, and prophecies, even tasting the produce of the land. Participants will learn about shepherding and how it shaped Israel’s leaders like Moses and David. Not only will we learn about shepherding, but participants will also have an opportunity to try their hand at shepherding. We journey into the Elah Valley, the site of the famous confrontation between David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17). Here we will open the biblical story and see the landscape recorded in the Bible come alive before our eyes. We travel to Bethlehem. In Bethlehem, we remember the birth of Jesus and visit the Church of Nativity, the oldest church in the Holy Land, built over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. We return to Jerusalem for time for wandering around and shopping in the Old City of Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight at the Jerusalem hotel. WEDNESDAY JUNE 26, 2024: Biblical Jerusalem Our morning in Jerusalem begins with a visit to the Israel Museum. Here we will see a scale-model of Jerusalem on the eve of its destruction in AD 70. We will visit the Shrine of the Book, which houses some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, including some of the oldest copies of the Old Testament. Our tour of the museum concludes with a walk through the archeological wing to visit the two galleries dedicated to Israel in the Old and New Testament periods. We will see original artifacts found in sites we visited, as well as other artifacts that make the Bible come alive. Next we participate in an active archeological excavation shifting earth recovered from the Temple Mount. The Jerusalem Sifting Project has uncovered thousands of artifacts from Jerusalem’s history, and we will have the opportunity to add our finds to that list. We then journey to the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem, the city David conquered and made his capital. From David’s capital and the Pool of Siloam, we walk on the first century street and through an ancient tunnel from which we emerge among the shops and markets around the Temple, a possible location for the money changers (Luke 19:45-48). We then proceed to the southern entrances of the Temple where we walk the steps ancient pilgrims took to ascend to the Temple. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. THURSDAY JUNE 27, 2024: Jesus’ Jerusalem Our morning begins with a beautiful view of the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. We walk down the mountain following the modern path used by pilgrims on Palm Sunday visiting the church of Dominus Flevit, which remembers Jesus’ weeping over the city as he rode into it, and the traditional location of the Garden of Gethsemane. Our journey continues at Jaffa Gate where in the first century Herod’s palace stood. Here the story of Jesus begins (Matt. 2) with the visit of the wisemen to Herod, and here his story ended because at Herod’s palace Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate (Mark 15:16). From Jaffa Gate, we walk into the Jewish Quarter and visit the Herodian Quarter, a series of priestly homes from the first century. We then walk along the Byzantine Cardo and see the walls of Jerusalem from the eighth century BC and the first century BC. Passing the Gennath Gate, we follow the historic route Jesus traveled from Pilate to his place of execution at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Our day ends with a communion service. After a farewell dinner, we depart Jerusalem for Ben Gurion Airport where you will return to your home country refreshed, challenged, and renewed in your faith. FRIDAY JUNE 28, 2024 Arrive USA
Marc Turnage holds an MA in Ancient Judaism and the Origins of Christianity from Jerusalem University College. He is currently finishing his PhD in the Land of Israel Studies Department at Bar Ilan University located in Ramat Gan, Israel, under the supervision of Professor Esther Eshel. Marc has taught graduate and undergraduate students at several universities in the United States and abroad.
Marc moved to Israel to study because he felt that the issues of spatial, historical, cultural, and spiritual settings played a vital role in how we read the Bible. While studying in Israel, he fell in love with the lands of the Bible. He has been guiding groups through Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy for over twenty years. Marc is a highly sought-after guide and teacher and routinely trains and lectures local tour guides about guiding Christian groups. He is passionate about leading biblical tours that deliver the very finest experience and helping people understand how to read the Bible.
Marc has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows Into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker, and a gifted teacher. He resides in Springfield, MO with his family.
Service is at the core of who we are. Our expeditions offer the finest travel experiences to the lands of the Bible. We provide the peace of mind that everything down to the smallest detail has been taken care of for you, so that you can experience the journey, encounter God, learn how to understand the words of the Bible through its world, and rest when it’s time. Our experienced team of travel concierges accompany every group in Israel. They meticulously attend to logistical details and personal service to ensure your experience is truly exceptional.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, jeep rides on uneven terrain, or easy hikes.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, jeep rides on uneven terrain, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking.
Travelers should be physically fit and prepared for multiple hours of activity (e.g., hiking, or kayaking) each day.
Travelers should be physically fit and prepared for multiple hours of activity (e.g., hiking, or kayaking) each day. Certain days may have more challenging physical activity, such as ascents/descents on steep terrain.
Designed for experienced active travelers in excellent physical condition, these itineraries may include full-day hikes. Trails often include terrain with steep ascents/descents.