All opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Every Christian has a story of how they came to the Lord, and every story is uniquely beautiful, demonstrating how God works through both the good and the bad to call His children to Him. When I reflect upon my own story, I can still recall the pain, confusion, and doubt. But, I see now how God used all those things to draw me near to Him, and to give me the promise of a wonderful future that outshines my past.

I grew up attending church occasionally, attending the required classes to partake in my first communion and confirmation, but little did I know that I was far from knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior. As I got older, I attended church occasionally, but for most of my early life, I never put much thought into my faith and beliefs about God. 

At the age of 19 years old, I thought I was living the best life; I had a new car, had a decent job, and was attending college. But very suddenly, I was faced with something that would forever change the course of my life and my faith. I found myself trapped in an emotional turmoil after my fiancé, who I thought was supposed to love me the most, betrayed me and left me alone. This event forced me to reflect on the way I was living my life and the things that I had done in the past, leaving me with no other option but to surrender to God and ask for forgiveness.

When I was at one of my lowest moments, I met a Christian girl who gave me her number to call if I ever wanted to talk about my future in Christ. I called her, and she connected me with other women who would later instruct and guide me in the path of the Lord. I attended a spiritual retreat to learn more. I didn’t yet understand much of the spiritual realm because I was so distraught, but despite my emotional condition, I could still feel a sense of peace, and the desire to know more of Him grew in my heart.

I was also encouraged to meet pastors that would later become my forever spiritual mentors. They both talked with me and aided in my mental and spiritual healing. I also had bible sessions with a woman named Cindy, who taught me about the love of Christ. As I listened to the word of God, I found myself questioning His existence and sovereignty. Still, I enjoyed being around these people; there was something about them that would attract me. 

After some years and discipleship, the scales in my eyes fell off and I made the decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My journey was not easy, yet I am thankful for those difficult times; every trial that I went through brought me closer and closer to God. There were times that I felt as if I were in a desert, with no choice but to cry out to Him, knowing He could hear me. 

For believers who have the opportunity to go to Israel, the testimonies we bring with us to the Holy Land affect and enhance our experience there in a way that is unique to each person. In my own experience, I related to the disciple Thomas, who had to run his fingers over Jesus’s hands to believe that he had resurrected. In the same way, after visiting Israel and walking in the Holy Land, I had no doubts about God’s existence and that Jesus is real and true. Being in the place where he was born, where he began his ministry, where he performed so many miracles, and where he ultimately gave his life for us was breathtaking. 

From the first day when I arrived in Tel Aviv, I could already feel something totally different in the atmosphere. Certainly, I had arrived at the promised land where milk and honey flow, and I could feel that peace that surpasses all understanding. Each site that we visited touched my life in a special way.

My trip to Israel has strengthened my faith and expanded my knowledge about the roots of Christianity. I cannot thank God enough for this opportunity and for Passages. I have grown so much spiritually and have connected with Him in a very special way. Now when I read the scripture from the Old Testament, I can visualize and reimagine those events. What I lived in the Holy Land was something that truly shaped me as a believer in Christ, and it was so refreshing to my soul.

It’s been a long journey, but I am very fortunate to have overcome the struggles and trials that I encountered and would have not been able to do it without God’s help. I also believe that having gone to Israel and looking through the lenses of the Holy Land has connected me so closely to Jesus, and my faith is now even stronger in Him. I have become a new person in Christ, as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”