Solidarity Tour group - March 24

ICEJ Ambassadors Tour hones Christian advocates for Israel

By Ryan Tsuen

On the final day of the first-ever ICEJ Ambassadors Tour, a group of 23 Christians from 10 nations worldwide stood inside a large, ancient stone formation in the Jordan Valley and pledged in unison to support Israel more fully during this challenging time.

As they disembarked from their bus at Gilgal Argamon, tour guide Katherine van der Beek shared the site’s rich history. Gilgal Argamon is a curious man-made structure of stone walls in the Jordan Valley which is believed to have served as the Israelites’ first encampment after crossing the Jordan River under the leadership of Joshua.

Katherine described the camp’s unique layout in the shape of a sandal, potentially reflecting the passage in Deuteronomy 11:24: “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours…” She also pointed out the faint outline of a possible altar where the Tabernacle might have stood. Scholars believe this and several similar sandal footprints found in the Land, known as “gilgals,” became key meeting points for the elders of Israel to gather the people and make important communal decisions.

Inspired by the site’s great biblical significance, the group engaged in a time of prayer for Israel and spontaneous declarations by each participant of unwavering support for the Jewish state and people. Before leaving Gilgal Argamon, everyone ascended the adjacent hill for a breathtaking panoramic view of the vast, sandal-shaped encampment.

The idea of an Ambassadors Tour was recently conceived by the ICEJ’s new chief operations officer, Richard van der Beek, who previously served as a senior manager for a major Israeli tourism company, Sar-El Tours. The week-long itinerary combined traditional touring of biblical sites with briefings and visits to places related to current events, as well as engaging in hands-on volunteer projects. The well-rounded tour schedule featured both biblical and modern Israel and thereby aimed to prepare participants to be better advocates for the Jewish nation back home.

This inaugural Ambassadors Tour in mid-March drew Christian delegates from Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, the UK, USA and Zimbabwe. They visited a Gaza border community devastated by Hamas terrorists on October 7, received security briefings on the southern and northern fronts, heard from first-responders about what they faced in those difficult first days of the current war, and cooked meals for those on the frontlines, among other activities.

“I believe the Holy Spirit sent us here to Israel specifically at this time for one purpose only, and that is to report back to our nation the truth about Israel. That’s it! We are truth bearers,” said Richard from South Africa. “We need to take it back because there is so much confusion and misinformation before our eyes. Not that I never believed what has happened since October 7, but now it’s a first-hand account. I was there in Kibbutz Be’eri. I was there in the Golan. I spoke with a person who was at the music festival. The main thing is taking this back and being ambassadors. That’s the purpose!”

Richard also acknowledged that processing the week’s experiences would take time. Each nugget of truth they had gathered would serve them in their future endeavors.

Garrett from the Netherlands struggled to choose a single memorable moment.

“There are so many!” Garrett exclaimed. “I recognize where the ancient people walked here [at Gilgal Argamon] … and then in Jerusalem, that Jesus walked those very streets!”

Marcus, ICEJ-Germany

He also marveled at the diverse representation in the group and yet their unity in the faith preached by Jesus, which reflects his words in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…”

The tour concluded at the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem just before Shabbat. The site offers a spectacular view of the Old City, the Temple Mount, and the Mount of Olives. There, Marcus, the new Arise young adults director for ICEJ-Germany, assured that, “being here in Israel at this time will have an impact on my future sermons.” He highlighted meeting family members of Israeli hostages and those who lost loved ones on October 7 as a particularly moving experience. Hearing their testimonies and witnessing their fight for their loved ones’ return was truly impactful.

The ICEJ remains dedicated to advocating for Israel, comforting the Jewish people, and having a servant’s heart like Jesus towards his own family.

Please consider a future tour of the Land of Israel with the ICEJ. And do all you can to become a better ambassador and advocate for Israel in the challenging days ahead.