Hiking in the Holy Land: Making The Bible Actually Come to Life


Ava Bidner

While in the holy land, Ava was reminded of God’s presence.

As the cool water flowed over my head, turning my hair into a messy, golden mop and staining my clothes a dull shade of brown, nothing else in the world mattered. My head dipped back in the river, and along with the rush of water, a rush of adrenaline and faith overwhelmed me. My cousin lifted my head out of the water, and I fell into my mom’s arms, my eyes cloudy with tears. The faint sound of my family clapping in the background echoed in my ears, but all I could hear was the sound of my Father welcoming me into His Kingdom.

That’s the story of my baptism this summer. Hands down the best day of my life. I professed my belief and love for my father in the Jordan River. My cousin baptized me in the same place where Jesus’ cousin, John, baptized Him 2000 years before.

Walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Everyone has heard that simple phrase, and many have probably wondered at least for a split second what it would be like to wander the land that Jesus walked. This summer, I got to do that. To see where Jesus was born, crucified, and resurrected is truly indescribable. I hope one day you will get to experience the Holy Land for yourself because pictures and stories will never be able to do it justice.

Ava Bidner
The Sea of Galilee’s beauty was an impactful aspect of Bidner’s trip.

The Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water. The Jordan River where He was baptized. The Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus blessed us. Capernaum, “the town of Jesus.” The Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Mount of Temptation, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Nativity, the Garden Tomb, Jericho, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem. I saw it all. It was not an average trip.

“Israel was absolutely life-changing and made the Bible come alive! Walking in the footsteps of Jesus filled my soul like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” said Joy Bidner, my mom.

For many of you, the Bible is likely a brilliant source of encouragement, wisdom, and hope, but it probably also seems slightly disconnected and difficult to relate to your busy modern, teenage life. At least that’s what it was like for me. Bible stories were intriguing, unrealistic tales or parables involving far-off lands and characters that I could not accurately picture. I looked to the Bible for inspiration, and I had no doubt that Jesus was the Son of God, but I could not fully comprehend all that the Bible encompasses.

I am not a perfect Christian. I will never be. I do not always have the right words, I have my doubts, and I am still just as sinful as every other human. A trip to Israel will not cause you to abandon all of your flaws or to walk on water, but it will show you that all of those Bible stories you have read since kindergarten are not just exaggerated fairy tales. Peter, David, King Herod, Pontius Pilate. . . they all lived, and to see proof of their existence changed my view of the Bible.

It is impossible not to be changed and impacted by a trip to the Holy Land. There will always be a reason or an excuse not to go. Many are worried there is too much conflict, that the risk is too great, or that it is just not the right time to visit. But I urge you to go if you ever have the chance. Beaches or skyscrapers can make wonderful vacation spots, but there is really nowhere else on earth that can compare to the Holy Land.