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Fulfilling Prophecy in the "Galilee of the Nations"
“There will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.” Isaiah 9:1 (New Living Translation)
A new project has the potential to fulfill a major need in the Galilee for tourist accommodations and perhaps a bit of biblical prophecy as well.
Anne Ayalon, founder and president of The Galilean Resort and Campus, is spearheading an ambitious project that is aimed at drawing Christians to the area for vacations, conferences, concerts, educational courses as well as spiritual revival in this highly significant region.
“The more you develop the Galilee in the right way, the more pilgrims will come,” she said. The concept of the resort and campus, Ayalon said, will inspire “spiritual renewal in the area.”
Currently the Galilee is benefitting less from the surge in tourism to Israel than other popular destinations such as Jerusalem. Ayalon said that many Christians, polled as they leave Israel, express a desire to spend more time in the Galilee. But with a dearth of accommodations around the lake, many tourists visit the area without spending the night. Even if they do, few tours offer more than one or two nights in the region where Jesus spent the bulk of his ministry.
“What’s going on in Israel for Christians is in the Galilee,” Ayalon said. “All the places that have meaning to the Christians are in the Galilee.”
Much of the activities in the Gospels were centered in or near this region. Jesus crossed the lake several times. Here, he called many of his disciples to follow him. Several churches have been built memorializing miracles he performed and sermons that Jesus preached in this region. The Galilean is designed to capitalize on that, allowing pilgrims to park in the area for longer than a day or two. The resort features 250 rooms, but the center include much more than just accommodations. The grounds and adjacent campus will include a performing arts center suitable for lectures, concerts, films. The campus will host day and evening courses. An amphitheater on the lake will seat 1,500. The grounds would also be complete with a library, chapel, shops, spa, pool and a conference center. Approximately $60 million is needed to develop the project.
And while the amenities will make the resort attractive to Christian groups, The Galilean is not just envisioned to fill a tourism need for Christians, but to add spiritual and educational dimensions to the time they spend in Israel, starting with learning about the Jewish roots of faith at the source.
David Zwebner, founder and managing director, said one mission of The Galilean is to “create a better understanding between Christians and Jews.”
To that end, Jewish rabbis and teachers will be part of the campus outreach. Noted rabbis and pastors including Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Robert Stearns, Brad Young and others, are also on the board of the Galilean and will help in developing the curriculum which will focus on educating Christians about their faith’s Jewish roots. Ayalon said the goal is to build “bridges of understanding and respect between the two faiths” and to educate Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith and understanding God’s purposes for Israel.
The concept is backed by a line-up of significant evangelical Christians from the US and based in Israel. including Gary Bauer, David Cerullo, John Hagee, Pat Robertson and Michael Little from CBN and Jay Sekulow. Naim Khoury of Bethlehem is also backing the idea as is Brazilian Pastor Rene Terra Nova.
In 2010 - a record year for tourism to Israel - 2.3 million Christians comprised 69 percent of all tourists to the country. This number is up from 497,000 in 2004. But that is still a pittance compared to the 2.2 billion Christians worldwide today and the 34 million tourists to the Vatican annually.
Should the project succeed, Galilee could eventually rival Jerusalem as a spiritual Mecca for Christians with its idyllic setting on a swath of land upon or near where Jesus fed the 5000, preached the Sermon on the Mount, and healed all who were brought to him.
“It is these places that are going to create spiritual enrichment for the Christians that are going to come here,” Ayalon said.
By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah
Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.
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