Every January we offer a Fam Trip through the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies (JCBS). "Fam" is short for "Familiarization" and the trip is designed to introduce leaders to travel in Israel/Palestine.
Four things should be clear from the start.
1. Recognize that the Fam Trip delivers an exceptional study-tour experience at or below actual cost.
You may wonder why would a company would take on this kind of risk? The answer is simple: because they are confident of the quality of their product. JCBS is so certain that you will have an enriching experience that there is no gamble.
Our own engagement bears this out. Consider this example. Of the ten leaders (or couples) with us in 2017, two are returning with groups of their own in the summer of 2018. Another is returning in 2019. One is a local pastor. The second is a university professor. The third is a cross-cultural educator.
Each of these individuals recognized that studying the biblical text in its historical/archaeological context is a game-changer. They simply had to find a way to incorporate it into their ministries.
Earlier this year another one of our travelers told me they now "see the Bible in 3-D!" Throw in a variety of cross-cultural experiences along with opportunities for reflection and meditation, mix in a little hummus and shatta for flavor and now you know where our mantra comes from: Observe. Engage. Contemplate.
2. Remember that the Fam Trip is a sampler platter.
My first experience in Israel/Palestine was on an archaeological project in 1984. You would think that over the course of three advanced degrees and thirty-plus years of work in the region I would have exhausted the subject (or more likely, it would have exhausted me!). Fact is, the geography, archaeology, and history of the region is a data-set more sizable and complex than the abilities of any single person, trip, or educational experience. I still find it energizing. But I've also learned that issues of scale and selectivity are critical. This is especially true for the first-time visitor. It is easy to become overwhelmed.
This is why an 8-day Fam Trip takes aim at the high points. All stops are biblically relevant and weighted on the side of the New Testament narrative. We walk where Jesus walked. We see the places that evoke his story, his people, his church.
For every site we visit, we drive by dozens more. I tell you this not to discourage you but as an incentive for further study . . . and repeated visits. Fact is, even after all these years, I still see new things every time I visit Israel/Palestine! It is such a dynamic place!
3. Remember that the muscle of JCBS/EO stands behind our Fam Trip.
JCBS is a part of the larger family known as Educational Opportunities. This group has been a leader in the Christian travel industry since 1974 and is the largest by-volume provider of Holy Land trips in North America. By virtue of size it is able to leverage good prices and muster a capable support staff on the ground in Israel/Palestine. EO has won numerous awards for their responsible work. Such accolades give travelers confidence when communicating with the Florida office of JCBS/EO (in English or Spanish), making personalized flight arrangements, contemplating security issues, or transferring funds. When contemplating international travel, you don't want to deal with a start-up or a lightweight.
As an instructor I appreciate working with the JCBS/EO family because I know when we move about the country we have our very own hospitality representatives in our hotels who stand ready to help with airport transfers, lodging arrangements, emergency situations, and assisting as other needs demand. Hospitality staff is right there, not across the Atlantic. That kind of muscle is comforting.
4. Relay the opportunity of the Fam Trip to the appropriate people.
While I wish we could say yes to everyone who wants to travel to Israel/Palestine at or below cost, the fact is, the JCBS Fam Trip is designed for folks in specific leadership positions. We welcome inquiries from ministers, pastors, professors, teachers, clergy, and ecclesiastical professionals. We also welcome inquiries from those who may be interested in sponsoring or assisting a leader in their own congregation. Such a trip would be a perfect gift for a milestone anniversary, a gracious thank-you, or even a mini-sabbatical.
We offer many other study-tour opportunities to the lands of the Bible each year. To see a full list of scheduled trips, click the link here.
To see the brochure for our January 2018 Fam Trip click the link here. Prices, schedule, and all the fine print are included.
If this one caught you by surprise, would you consider joining us in January of 2019? Begin planning now!