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“Therefore My people
shall know My Name;
The Holy Land is where all the major Biblical events occurred. Many centuries have gone by, yet the places, the history and the people of the Holy Land hold special meaning for all who love God and His Word.
Have you ever visited the Holy Land? And who would not dream to make such a journey? For some of us who have had the privilege of setting foot on the Holy Land, we count it among the greatest experiences of our lives. We are deeply thankful to our Lord Jesus for making it possible for us to undertake 3 journeys to the Holy Land. In 1999, we traveled with 5 coworkers to the land of Israel, Sinai, and the Eastern coast of Turkey. The main focus of this first journey was to retrace the steps of our Lord Jesus and to visit the sites of the 7 Churches of Revelation. In 2001, for our Sabbatical project, we ventured forth for three and a half months to the lands of Turkey, Greece and Italy. This time, our focus was to follow the footsteps of the early apostles as they obeyed Jesus’ command to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We purposely selected the routes, whether by land or sea, traveled by Paul and the early apostles, thus we visited almost all the places mentioned in the Book of Acts. In 2004, we furthered our travels to the land of Egypt, Sinai Peninsula and crossed over to Jordan and Jerusalem. In retracing the steps of Moses and the children of God’s people, this journey enlightened and broadened our understanding of the Torah, the five book of Moses.
A great German poet once said, “If you want to understand the poet, you must visit his country.” And so as we walked the streets of Tarsus, the world of Paul opened to us as it had never done before. The apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation from Patmos, a small Greek island, not on many travelers’ itinerary today, because Patmos is not located on a convenient route of travel. But if one is able to stay on this island of Revelation for longer than a weekend to meditate and pray, it is an experience of a lifetime. These blissful but awesome moments are forever etched in our memories.
We embarked on the 2nd journey to the Holy Land shortly after the 911 attacks. All the Biblical sites we visited had hardly any tourists, because it was off-season, and also many people had postponed their traveling plans in the weeks following the terrorist attacks. Therefore, in our pilgrimage to these Biblical sites, we had ample quietness to think, to meditate, to focus on our Lord Jesus and to hear what God has to say to us in this generation. As we explored each Biblical place, we read and re-read the related Scriptural passages, and prayed earnestly. We had the archaeological sites all to ourselves from morning until closing time. Such was the blessing from our Lord. Try to imagine Ephesus with no tourist buses or crowds. No one was in the way as we looked for the best viewpoints to take photographs. This gave us ample opportunities to pay attention to photo composition without the distraction of crowds.
Though we had no local tour guides, the Holy Spirit was our Guide and Jesus sent His angels to help us when we got lost. We took with us a Bible, local maps and Lonely Planet to get to the destinations. Many people have not heard of Crete but we spent two weeks there because the church of Crete is the subject of the book of Titus. Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders in every city on this island of Crete. People are generally not aware that there are 2 different Antiochs mentioned in the Bible. How blessed we were to worship with the saints on the Lord’s Day in Antioch-on-the-Orontes, where the first Gentile church was established 2000 years ago. Some of the Biblical sites such as Lystra, Derbe, and Colossae are not easy to find for the only traces of these once flourishing cities are now only unexcavated mounds.
While we visited attractive and popular tourist sites, such as the Areopagus in Athens and the Colosseum in Rome, we chose also to visit Miletus, Assos and Troas, desolate and unappealing sites today, but significant 2000 years ago. Cappadocia, one of the destinations of Peter’s first epistle, is truly a land of wonder with its stunning natural scenery. And just as refreshing is obscure Fair Havens, where we tarried to pray in the abandoned dark dungeon cave in which the apostle Paul once stayed.
Our journey was not always smooth because our time of travel extended into deep winter, and we were caught in freezing snowstorms. We discovered that traveling on the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea during winter is dangerous because of the sudden changes in the direction of the wind. Therefore, it is not unusual for ferries to be cancelled or delayed even into the middle of the night on the Greek islands. This is what we experienced when we went to Patmos, Rhodes and Samos Island. In that unusual winter, Greece had record low temperatures. We encountered road closures and got into bus accidents on icy roads. Have you ever seen pictures of snow in archaeological sites? If not, you will be captivated by the romantic winter scenes of Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea and Corinth.
The Bible is about God’s interaction with real people who lived in real places. Now that we have set foot in these places, they are no longer merely printed words on the pages of the Bible, but vibrant realities in our lives. We stood in silence by the tombs of some of the early apostles such as John, Peter, Luke, Mark, Andrew and Paul. We were awakened and stirred by their fervent devotion to our Lord Jesus. Indeed, they loved Jesus with a holy passion.
God has entrusted us with a task. In the course of our journey, the Lord gave us the English title “PASSION FOR JESUS” with a subtitle, “In the Footsteps of the 1st Century Apostles” for the book we intended to write to share with the world our many moving transforming experiences. Every evening, we recorded in our journals our meditations and insights. We collected up-to-date practical information and gathered details of recent archaeological discoveries as we went from site to site. By the end of the journey, we were overwhelmed by the fact that we had taken more than 20,000 high resolution photographs with our digital camera. The question is: “How are we going to put all these pictures into a book?”
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Multimedia presentations are playing an increasingly important role in this Information Technology era, therefore we should take advantage of advanced technology to share the Biblical message. So, together with Almega System Analysts Limited (a Christian company specializing in computer technology and serving the Lord Jesus in faith), we are now producing an extensive series of CD-Roms and detailed audio-visual presentations in DVDs to let you envision how the early Christians followed Jesus in the 1st Century. As you go through the entire series systematically, you will cultivate a deeper understanding of the significance of the land, the history, the people and their culture as they relate to the Bible. Most important, our prayer is that your hearts will be drawn to Jesus.
We pray also that our Lord will be pleased to use this series as a Bible resource tool to help people better understand and teach the Bible. The high resolution digital photographs are clear and sharp, and therefore can be used for sermon Power Point illustrations, seminars, workshops, Sunday School programs, retreat camps, Church bulletins, newsletters, posters, and whatever means of communicating the Gospel.
From the thousands of photographs taken, we carefully selected only a few hundred to be included in each CD-Rom with vivid audio-visual presentations to bring you into the Holy Land. Many people long to visit the Holy Land but they do not have the opportunity, so through these multimedia presentations, you will experience the Biblical sites for yourselves.
As our guests, we invite you to “Come and See”. Join us in following the footsteps of the early apostles and respond to Jesus’ call. Let Jesus touch your life. We pray that you will be inspired to love Jesus, and indeed to have a glowing PASSION FOR JESUS. Whether you use this material prior, during or after your visit to the Holy Land, we trust that it will make your spiritual journey both enriching and of eternal value in your pursuit of Jesus. Physical traveling has an element that is comparable to a spiritual journey, which when taken prayerfully in the presence of Jesus, will transform our lives inevitably. No one can remain the same. There is a difference between having been there and not having been there. Our life is a movement towards a close encounter with Jesus. Open your heart, let Jesus be your Guide, and allow Jesus to move freely in your life.
We wish to express our gratitude to Jesus, our Master, and our deep appreciation to those who have contributed in making this mega multimedia production possible. Our heartfelt thanks to Samuel Kwun, Simon Lock and their staff at Almega System Analysts Limited for their professional skills in the project development and final production; David Epp, Rosablanca’s former secondary school history teacher, for his invaluable assistance in editing the English scripts; Dr. Larry Perkins, President of Northwest Baptist Seminary, for his theological and scholarly review of the material; Dixon Yip for the Cantonese narration; Joseph Chi for the music. We are deeply grateful to our church, our pastor and coworkers, brothers and sisters and friends for their encouragement and ongoing prayer support. May the Lord’s name be exalted and glorified in the fruit of our joint labors for His Kingdom.
We are living in exciting times before Jesus’ soon return. Let the holy fire of Jesus burn in our hearts. May the same PASSION FOR JESUS that filled the early apostles fill and empower us to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Amen.
& Rosablanca Suen