In a first known tour of its kind, 25 Ethiopian Catholics made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land designed specifically for them and their specific spiritual needs especially during the Easter holiday.
Usually Catholics from Ethiopia join Orthodox Christians, the majority religion in their nation, on tours to the Holy Land. But this time, the Catholic pilgrims celebrated Easter in Jerusalem and have been touring the entire country in a weeklong visit spiritually catered to Catholics.
Most of the people in the group were in Israel for the first time.
Meaza Yohannes, a Bible teacher, said it is amazing for her to see everything she has been teaching for 20 years with her own eyes.
“The Bible is coming alive,” she told Travelujah. “It is so awesome I cannot even explain. We know what we read in the Bible, but now it is real. This country is rich in culture and rich in history and tradition.”
Ethiopia is the second oldest Christian country in the world, after Armenia. Christians make up about 63 percent of Ethiopia’s population with about 44 percent Orthodox and 10 percent Protestant while Catholics account for less than 1 percent.
Tsehai Haile, who organized the trip in conjunction with Travelujah, explained that Catholics usually join Orthodox tours because more Orthodox come. In the future, however, more tours will be arranged for Catholics and perhaps even medical visits.
“It is better because they can pray together,” she said. “The communion service is also different than the Orthodox one.”
Tutu Godana said that after she visited the Holy Land replica in Florida, she decided she had to make it a point to see the real Jerusalem.
“It’s more than I expected – to see the real, practical journey of Jesus,” Godana said. “It just touched my heart. I think my faith will be stronger because of this.”
Michael Haile said he has traveled to many countries around the world including Europe and Australia, but nothing in all of his experience compares to the uniqueness of Israel. From the spiritual atmosphere to the vegetation to even how Israelis made use of the land when they built the nation, Haile said he was amazed with the country.
“I had to visit Israel because it is the place of the history of mankind,” he said. “The Bible says that all people will come up to Mount Zion.”
“There are many churches in Europe, but here the design, the structure and the colors of the churches are different here,” he noted. “They are old churches, but they give you such a good feeling, they feel new and fresh.”
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.