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He said to them, 'Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.'" Mark 1:38
With a heart full of emotion, Valeries Ramirez, 24, looked out over the Sea of Galilee and the Genasseret Valley on the path Jesus likely took from his hometown in Nazareth to meet the residents living in the seaside villages along the Sea of Galilee.
"To walk where your savior walked - it's a very beautiful experience and something that will change your life," Ramirez said about her visit along a portion of the Gospel Trail, the newly completed 65-kilometer path inaugurated last week by Israel's Ministry of Tourism.
The Gospel Trail is part of the Tourism Ministry's effort to attract more Christians to Israel in general, but more specifically to the Galilee, which does not attract the high number of tourists that Jerusalem does, despite the fact that Jesus spent most of his life in this region and walked the very countryside that Ramirez was walking.
Ramirez was visiting Israel as part of a 70-person tour organized by Pastor Alberto Mottesi, a radio and TV personality and Evangelical minister from Santa Ana, California, who led a group of 70 believers from Latin America and the United States on a 10 day journey to Israel on what he estimates is his 15th visit to the Holy Land.
Stumbling on a flower growing up out of the sidewalk, have you ever stopped and wondered: "How in the world does a plant grow THERE?!" Imagine then, plants growing between enormous solid bricks, in a wall more than 3 football fields long, more than 5 stories tall (with another 10 stories out of sight, below ground) that has stood for more than 2000 years.
These plants grow between the bricks that built the Western Wall, also known to Jews worldwide as the Kotel, the last remnant of the retaining wall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
According to Jewish tradition, the location on Mt. Moriah is where the creation of the world began, where Abraham bound Isaac, and Jacob dreamt of the ladder to heaven. Moslems believe that Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Mount (Al-Haram al Sharif in Arabic) during the Night Journey. And of course, much of Jesus' life and work occurred within steps of the Western Wall itself.