What the Participants are Saying:

Incoming Comments from Participants on the Most Recent DAP Venture...'Summer School in the Holy Land (Israel/Syria/Jordan)' April 27 - May 31/2010.

Here's what some of the participants had to say:

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'Since my return to preaching there has not been a Sunday when I have not drawn on the experiences, the sights and sounds, and the geography of the Down Ancient Paths travel study experience in the Greater Holy Land. The lectionary passage recalled the Jericho day..and the walk in the wadi to Jericho. One week I was preaching on 'Living water' and recalled the admonition to drink constantly even when you were not thirsty or there could be consequences. I even used my olive wood carving of Jesus washing the feet of disciples for a sermon on servanthood. I have not recovered from the trip even a few weeks after, but then I hope I never do...'

Rev. Doug Powell, Okotoks United Church, Okotoks, AB

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'This Down Ancient Paths travel study venture provided me with a wealth of historical sites that gave us glimpses of the very roots of civilization back to 500 BCE. It also gave me the opportunity to take in not only what most refer to as the 'Holy Land' (Israel) but more importantly the 'Greater Holy Land' (including Syria and Jordan). I benefitted by extraordinarily experienced and biblically knowledgeable guides who provided a variety of perspectives reflecting the various cultural layers in this cradle of civilization. I was introduced to various expressions of Christianity we don't see much at home-the Orthodox, the Armenians, Palestinian Christians - as well as monastic traditions of desert spirituality. I enjoyed the classroom presentations and discussions by local academic experts representing Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives... I experienced where Jesus was born, walked prayed, preached and died. And, over the top, were two events... I was in the Upper Room/Cenacle on Pentecost Sunday ...I was baptized in the Jordan River. I am so appreciative of this educational opportunity...this could not be done on one's own.'

Norman LeBlanc, Project Development Consultant, Calgary, AB

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'Summer School in the Holy Land 2010 was a watershed in both my walk of faith and my academic journey…and I am sure that the trip is not anywhere near finished for me…I went to the Middle East to explore the ancient roots of modern religions but I would say that Summer School in the Holy Land has made me desire to continue experiencing the pangs of the heart as it births new loves, the desperation of the soul as it thirsts for justice, and the eagerness of the mind to dispel its ignorance. And I will remain thankful that this venture re-fueled me in my search for God in every land, every people group, and every controversy, and to see him more clearly in what I do.'

Hannah Ayer, Ambrose University College Graduate, Calgary, AB

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'The trip fulfilled a life-long desire to explore the Middle East. The richness of everything I experienced met every wish. The first and most obvious aspect is that now when I hear a biblical place-name, the image of it comes to mind…the Greater Holy Land is now true, real and solid to me. Being able to hear many voices was one of the greatest parts of the experience. The issues of the Middle East now have a human face to them. Memories, impressions and realizations keep bubbling up for me in the midst of ‘ordinary time'.'

Laurie Bennie, Ambrose Seminary Student, Calgary, AB

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'I have Christian roots, but not a member of any church group, so my opinion would be perhaps more neutral. Summer School in the Holy Land 2010 caused a life-changing tectonic shift in my perspectives: how small yet powerful is Jerusalem! How complex the dynamics that control the Holy Land. The most compelling experiences – there were many…two stand out…being atop Masada and the Golan Heights and knowing not only the separate events but the history that linked them and making our way through the tunnel carved by King Hezekiah 2700 years ago to finally give meaning to Byron’s ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib’.'

Glenn Fieber, Teacher and Writer, Kamloops, BC

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'The five weeks in the Holy Land will have an everyday impact on me throughout the remainder of my life. The biblical landscape that I was able to see, experience intimately and learn about has changed my perspective drastically; my eyes have been opened to a whole new world. I am forever grateful.'

Kyle Trigg, Ambrose University College Student, Calgary, AB

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'This tour visited most of the important ancient sites in Syria, Jordan and Israel. It also accessed a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise in terms of lecturers and guides, a bonus which is rarely associated with educational travel. Profound total experience.'

Rodger Woods, Architect, Calgary, AB

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'The diversity of the program and intellectual demands of the presenters were both stimulating and all absorbing. Great attention was given to detail at the historic sites and natural wonders. I was completely captivated by this five week trip and was never bored.'

Carol Woods, Retired Educator, Calgary, AB

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'Summer School in the Holy Land 2010 was multi-dimensional. The education…historical, religious, political, cultural and geographical; the facts…as many sides to every story as there were people; the knowledge gained…understanding the complexity of the issues and the difficulty of proposing solutions; the conclusion…gratitude for an educational trip such as this and the opportunity to meet so many unique people and to have experienced a taste of their lives. I will never be the same.'

Aurelie Sondermann, Ambrose Seminary Student, Calgary, AB

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One of our previous 'Down Ancient Paths' educational travel ventures was ''Summer School in the 'Other' Holy Land (Turkey and Patmos)'/May/09. Here's what some of the participants had to say about their adventures and transformations:

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'Down Ancient Paths has definitely broadened my world and opened new pathways to God for me. I preached my first message upon my return on Antioch and Simon the Younger and it was well received.'

Rev. Mike Morgan, Senior Pastor,
Zion Evangelical Missionary Church, Didsbury, Alberta

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'The trip was amazing and allowed us to see the sites of Turkey and Patmos from just about every imaginable angle... from eating lunch with Fr. Seraphim in the Monastery of St. John on Patmos, to listening to an Imam recite a prayer in an Adana mosque, to visiting the Hagia Sophia church and the Byzantine cisterns in Istanbul. My photos don't do justice to the balloon ride over Cappadocia...the memories of it will stay with me forever. The room for educational as well as spiritual advancement brought on by this trip cannot be overstated.. it was awesome.'

Adam Macpherson, University of Calgary Student

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'God used this educational travel experience to deepen my love for His word, His church and His people. Walking the Island of Patmos expanded my ability to interpret the Book of Revelation in a new wineskin.'

Rev. Robert Claxton, Senior Pastor,
St. Albert Alliance Church
St. Albert, AB

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'For me to travel Down Ancient Paths into the nooks and crannies of almost forgotten places - following in the footsteps of the Apostles Paul and John - has opened my eyes. Being able to see the places I'd only read about has given me a new understanding of why certain events came together as they did; it has enlivened what was only words before. All the sites, ruins, cities and raw history that we were able to see in the many miles we travelled filled me with a thirst to capture it all...I didn't want to forget what I was seeing and feeling.'

Kathy Blain, who loved sharing this experience with her daughter, an Ambrose University College student
High River, Alberta

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'Down Ancient Paths has gone beyond anything I had expected. Each day we went to places which changed from being a name to becoming an experience....a place linking past events to present spiritual possibilities. Each day was full of both pathways to the heart and food for future sermons. It was the trip of a lifetime which will hopefully bring about a new deepening of my soul.'

Rev. David Spate, Senior Pastor,
Brentview Baptist Church
Calgary, Alberta

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'A friend first told me about Down Ancient Paths. The journey to Turkey and Patmos was an epic adventure, an experience of educational travel for the mind and the soul. It was not a vacation of physical rest and relaxation but it was an opportunity for the rejuvenation of my soul. I want to do another venture in the future.'

Kathy Spate, Chaplain in Residency
Calgary, Alberta

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'The memories of the trip to Turkey and Patmos will stay with me forever. It is clear to me that walking where St. Paul walked was a gift God really wanted me to have especially in a year officially designated by my church as the 'Year of St. Paul'. It's been great seeing all the treasures that Turkey and Patmos had to offer and just when I thought that I couldn't go any further or see anymore, I would. And I'd be so glad to have pushed myself that much more.'

Tara Close, pilgrim
Calgary, Alberta

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One of our previous 'Down Ancient Paths' educational travel ventures was 'Summer School in Two Holy Lands/08' (Ethiopia and Israel). Here's what some of the participants had to say about their adventures and transformations:

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'Tourists we were not. We were exposed to experiences normally hidden from visiting eyes....we discovered the hidden, took part in the hidden, spoke to the hidden and often discovered more about ourselves.'

Rohadi Nagassar, Student at Ambrose Theological Seminary, Calgary

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'Journey to Two Holy Lands was a wonderful pilgrimage to understanding. I travelled to learn. I met people and heard their stories; saw places and discovered bits of their history. I observed arenas of conflict and identified with various opponents. Everywhere we went we encountered religious devotion at its best and its worst. The result ? Revitalized faith.'

Doug Koop, Editorial Director, Christian Week, Winnipeg

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'Travelling down ancient paths takes you into the real world, without borders. Though it can be arresting, the knowledge obtained from such ventures illuminates the real world for the pilgrim.'

Andrew Mainprize, Student at Ambrose University College, Calgary

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'Ethiopia proved to be both interesting and inspiring. The ancient stone churches were... truly God-inspired works of faith. The resting place of the Ark of the Covenant stimulated one's faith and beliefs. Ethiopian people, although immersed in material poverty, were rich in God's love and experience. The group being composed of both students and nonstudents only served to further enhance the beauty of the overall experience.'

George Psetas, Attorney at Law, St. George Greek Orthodox Church, New Port Richey, Florida

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'We learned a lot about church history that is so useful in the work we do in Romania... It is said that travel broadens the mind... but this type of education expanded the mind and the spirit and awakened us to new nuances in how churches and denominations got to where they are... Pray for Palestinian Christians... Ethiopia (second Holy Land)... go there!'

John and Cheryl Zumbrunn, World Partners in Romania

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'Our travels provided us with lifetime memories of challenges, discoveries, tastes, scents, and Scripture 'on the ground'. Our hearts, minds and spirits are full of gratitude.'

Al and Sheila Vanderputten, St. James Anglican Church, Calgary

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'Ethiopian history as a whole was an enthralling learning experience. Receiving an education in something I know absolutely nothing about was refreshing. In particular the early history of Christianity in Ethiopia provided much stimulation.'

'I found the the whole subject of liminality to be intriguing and fascinating. The idea of Christianity developing on the fringe of civilization was new to me. From the fringes of this world have come many of Christianity's most powerful voices. They are 'wild' and live on the threshold of our world and the next.'

Taylor Glass, Student at Ambrose University College, Calgary

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'An epiphany moment was in Ethiopia. My eyes were opened to the importance of tradition and liturgy in the Christian experience when I took off my shoes and walked into an Ethiopian Orthodox monastery. The air was thick with incense. Dim lighting couldn't hide the provoking art work that covered the walls... I was drawn into a world completely foreign to my own understanding of Christianity; one that maintained roots in tradition unknown to me and most of my generation.'

Samantha Young, Student at the University of Calgary

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'Travelling is one of the things in life that brings me joy; learning is a close second. To combine them, as was done in 'Summer School in Two Holy Lands/08', created an amazing experience for me; one which I will never forget.'

Andrea Cousley, Student at Ambrose University College, Calgary

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'I know that I am now more sensitive towards other cultures in difficult situations. Being in Ethiopia made me relearn the meaning of Christian compassion.'

Lindsay McCormack, Student at Ambrose University College, Calgary

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'I was struck by everything I saw, heard, touched, tasted and felt. We spent the day in the Negev desert and took several moments to sit in silence and meditate... This was a profound time for most of us and inspired me to spend more time in silence.'

Laura MacGregor, Student at Ambrose Theological Seminary, Calgary

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'Now I realize that... the correlation between biblical Israel and the modern state of Israel is not straightforward.'

Shannon Humber, Student at Ambrose University College, Calgary

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'The Ethiopian people were genuinely hospitable. We felt we had stepped back in time to a place where it all began.'

Gord Hetherington and Lori Lukey, Participants in several 'Down Ancient Paths' travel ventures, Calgary

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'I have a much better grasp of the difficulties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is rather overwhelming. Knowing more about this conflict has been one of the most valuable parts of the trip.'

Bethany Love, Student at Ambrose University College, Calgary

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'This trip gave me a knowledge that went beyond the common approach to learning as each experience pushed me to a new sense of understanding. There was so much to take in, to see, to feel, to experience.'

Christie Thoms, Student at Ambrose University College, Calgary

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'Conversations between Israelis and Palestinians need to occur on street corners, in cafes, at the supermarket, in the workplace, away from the mahogany desked boardrooms and conference halls in order to build understanding and trust and maybe, eventually, they'll hope to live peacefully in cooperation. Christians, whether they live in the Holy Land or Canada, have a definite role to play in whatever future will unfold in the place where Jesus lived, taught, and died.'

Caitlin Lucas, Student at Ambrose University College, Calgary