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‘Life changing experiences’ in Israel

By Kay S. Pedrotti Marc Crandlemire said the bus rolling into Jerusalem carried anxious and excited passengers. A hymn called ‘O Jerusalem’ by John Starnes played in the background, and suddenly the bus was in a dark tunnel. ’Then as we broke out into the light, the voice sang ‘˜O Jerusalem,’ and I saw it all ‘“ the Dome of the Rock, the Temple Mount, all of the city before us. I am not given to lots of emotion but I was crying, I really was,’ said Crandlemire, lieutenant in charge of court services for the Lamar County sheriff’s office and an ordained minister. Crandlemire was one of 17 people who went to the Holy Land in February through Rock Springs Church in Lamar County. Besides pastor Benny Tate, music pastor Ricky Shepherd and other Rock Springs members, the group was joined by a teenager from Michigan and her aunt from Virginia. ’It was truly a life-changing experience, all of it,’ Crandlemire said. ‘Most of us were baptized in the Jordan River, we were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, we floated on the Dead Sea and four of us prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Just to have the opportunity to be where Jesus walked was overwhelming.’ There is no way, he added, that exact locations of different events in the life of Christ could be pinpointed but the probable places according to Scripture and history of Golgotha, the Via Dolorosa and the empty tomb have been identified. At the Western (or Wailing) Wall, the group added their written prayer requests to the cracks on the wall, the last vestige of Solomon’s Temple. ’These prayer papers are taken out once a year but they’re never destroyed. They’re stored,’ said Crandlemire. The group also went to Masada, where about 950 Jews took refuge in what had been a castle of King Herod, fleeing from Roman soldiers who had destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem. Crandlemire said, ‘They didn’t let the Romans win to execute them or take them into slavery. By the time the troops arrived, all of them had taken their own lives.’ The tour was put together by Ducar Tours, owned by Duke and Carlene Westover of Lynchburg, Va. Duke served for several years on Jerry Falwell’s staff, he added. ’This was on my ‘˜bucket list,’ and I felt more at peace in Israel than I have felt anywhere in my whole life. The news media want you to believe it is a dangerous place to be, and things can happen, but they don’t have the crime problems we have. You can let your children walk around without fear, park your bicycle in front of a store and expect it to be there when you come out. ’I’d encourage anybody to take the opportunity to go to Israel. The worst parts are the 10-hour flight over and the 12-hour flight back. Pastor Tate asked if I’d come back sometime, and I told him, ‘˜yes, but not in a jet ‘“ I’ll come back with Jesus when he comes’.’

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