This is part of a series of articles on African-American pilgrimages to the Holy Land compiled by Dr. Ruth Pauline Plummer.
By Bishop Alton Gatlin and Vanessa Winbush-Gatlin
Bishop Alton Gatlin
When I think about the theme of our trip to Israel, there are so many thoughts that run through my mind. One of them is that it is a "trip of a lifetime" to finally be where Jesus lived and did His ministry.
I suppose this could be considered a dream come true because we get the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked, to speak where Jesus spoke and to do some things that will be forthcoming in ministry; that will have greater significance because we have been in the Holy Land.
I've been a Sunday school man all my life and for many years I led the Sunday school department. But there is a unique difference from what you see in pictures, what you imagine in your mind and the vision that comes as you prepare for different lessons.
But to see it in reality, brings everything to another whole level of understanding the culture, the people, the history of the place. It has just opened our eyes to so many other things. This has been wonderful.”
I know we'll never be able to watch the news and see reports from the Middle East the same way again. Being familiar with the various entities that are part of the Middle East – and especially Jerusalem – we’ll have a different understanding now, a new approach. And we would truly get what happened from 1948, all the way up to present day.
And then to know what happened back in Saul’s day and David’s day, in Jesus day and what's happening now. For us, it's kind of like building a cake, with layer on top of layer on top of layer on top of layer.
First Lady Vanessa Winbush-Gatlin
It is so wonderful, to not only read the Bible and study the Bible, but now to have experienced it. We experience God all the time, but to be here, especially today in Jerusalem, you just feel like you're so close to Him. You feel him in the atmosphere.
I looked at the sky and it seemed like even the blueness of the sky was different, just because you're in the Holy land of Jesus. And so this has been an impactful trip and I don't think I'll ever be the same.
We are just so thankful for this opportunity and thankful for the impact it's made on our lives because now we will pass it on from generation to generation.
Everybody, every child of God, needs to make this trip at least once.
We hope to organize other trips and bring other groups of people to Jerusalem so that their lives can also be impacted, just as ours were.
About the Gatlins
Bishop Alton Gatlin oversees the Trinidad Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the First Church of God in Christ in Louisiana. He is the pastor of Gethsemane Church of God in Christ in Lafayette and the First Church of God in Christ in Crowley.
First Lady Vanessa Winbush-Gatlin serves as the second assistant general supervisor for the COGIC Department of Women.
Dr. Ruth Pauline Plummer serves as president and CEO of Covenant Daughters Television Network and Covenant Daughters International Ministries. She also serves as the 1st Lady of Israel for the Church of God in Christ. She is a member of the ALL ISRAEL Advisory Board.