Imagine walking through Israel and Jordan and having the opportunity to visit places mentioned in the Bible and see things Jesus saw.
Elkins resident Jared Burgess had the opportunity to do just that.
"I made the trip because I wanted to experience the area where Jesus walked," said Burgess, a sophomore at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. "I wanted to learn more about the context of the scripture that I have grown up reading."
Jared Burgess, on his journey through Israel and Jordan, poses at the top of Mount Precipice near Nazareth and Cana, Israel.
More than 100 friends, family members and parishoners gathered Sunday at the First Church of the Nazarene to hear Jared Burgess, shown here, share photos and souvenirs and speak about his experiences traveling through Israel and Jordan.
Burgess shared some of his photos, souvenirs and the story of his trip Sunday at the First Church of the Nazarene in Elkins. He said his journey began in Tel Aviv. He then traveled up the Sea of Galilee and down to Jordan. Following this, he traveled down the Israeli Coast to Jerusalem and finished back up at Tel Aviv.
"Tel Aviv is one of the most modern and technologically advanced cities in the world," Burgess said. "The rich people in the city believed they would get sick if they lived by the sea, so the poor people lived by the sea. Now, the rich have changed their minds, found out they will not get sick and they are trying to move the poor people away from the sea to get the prime properties."
Burgess said from Tel Aviv, he traveled to the Mediterranean Sea town of Netanya.
"My favorite experience in Netanya was walking along the Mediterranean Sea and watching the sun setting," he said.
The next stop of Burgess' trip was Caesarea Maritime, the city by the sea.
"This was King Herod's city, and one of the cities the Romans established during Jesus' time to show their dominance," Burgess said. "Herod was a genius. He built this city by the sea and built a wall in the sea with guard towers. It was a great fortress - he was very conscious of security."
The house Herod lived in had a pool containing inlaid mosaic tiles.
"Herod built the pool and had it filled with fresh water. He could swim in his freshwater pool and look out over the salt water."
When Herod built his city, he had an aqueduct built to transport fresh water 20 miles into the city, Burgess added.
Burgess said before he traveled to Israel and Jordan, he thought he knew what the area would look like.
"I had mental images, but it has been 2,000 years since Jesus walked there," he said. "Things have changed."
During his talk, Burgess also shared photos of the Hypodrome.
"This is where the chariots would race and circle around the track," he said. "They told us the end seats to the right were the most prized. This is where the chariots would come around through the final turn where most crashes happened. They were said to enjoy the carnage."
Evidence of Pontius Pilate was on a stone near the Hypodrome.
"The stone said that Pontius Pilate was the procurator of the area. He was the governor during Jesus' time."
The next stop of Burgess' trip was an amphitheater constructed by Herod.
"There was a stage to watch plays," he said. "They constructed a wall as tall as the seating, and that would push the sound up to all of the seats, because microphones were not yet invented."
Burgess also showed photos of a statue atop of Mt. Carmel with Elijah slaying the prophets of Baal.
"I was sitting there reading the scripture telling about the prophets of Baal," Burgess said. "I walked to the top, and I can tell you it is a long distance from the top of the mountain to the bottom."
From the top of Mt. Carmel, Burgess said he had a view of the Valley of Megiddo.
"This is the sight of Armageddon," Burgess said. "The final battle of Earth will take place in this valley."
Next, Burgess told of the ancient road to Sephoris.
"The road had deep grooves from the wagons and chariots going across it," Burgess said. "It is believed that Jesus had some family in Sephoris and that he did some work there, probably masonry work."
Another place Burgess visited was the Mountain of the Beatitudes.
"This is where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount," Burgess said. "This is where the presence of Jesus was most upon me. When I got there, I sat and imagined that I was hearing his sermon. I sat there and pulled out my Bible and read the Sermon on the Mount. This was one of my favorite moments on the trip."
Burgess visited Peter's house and traveled on to Nazareth Village.
"This was restored from Jesus' time," he said. "Nazareth is a modern city now. We traveled to Mount Precipice, overlooking Nazareth and Cana."
In Jordan, Burgess was baptized in the Jordan River.
"Jordan is a third-world country," he said. "But it was an awesome experience to be baptized in the same water as Jesus."
Petra, one of the modern seven wonders of the world, was the next stop of Burgess' trip.
"This is a civilization carved into the rock of the mountains," Burgess said. "It is something you have to see."
Burgess said he visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
"We were there on Christmas Eve," he said. "It was awesome. I stood in the spot where they believe Jesus was born and laid into the manger."
Other areas Burgess visited were Jerusalem, where he went to the Dead Sea, Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, where trees were more than 2,400 years old, the Wailing Wall, The Garden Tomb and the Mount of the Skull.
"We went to the Mount of the Skull where Jesus was crucified," Burgess said. "Then we went to the Tomb. The sign there said He is not here for He is risen. For me, that pretty much sums up my whole trip.
"It is amazing that one man changed the course of a country and the course of history," Burgess added. "This was the trip of a lifetime. For me, it was life-changing."
Burgess is studying pastoral ministry with a minor in youth ministry. He said his long-term goal is to become a full-time pastor in a Nazarene Church, but he sees himself working in youth ministry for a while before that.