There has never been a better time for Christians to tour Israel.

That’s right. I just returned from three weeks in Israel with 25 believers from our fellowship—Topeka Bible Church (a fervent supporter of Jews for Jesus since its early days).

But what about the rocks, the bullets, the car bombs? We didn’t see or hear any. Well, that’s not quite true. We turned on CNN in our hotel room at the end of each fabulous day of touring and saw the same things you saw. I don’t mean to make light of anyone’s suffering, but I do want to tell you that the media portrayal of what is or is not happening leaves much to be desired.

Nearly all of that violence takes place in Palestinian territory, not in Israel proper. We avoided those hot spots. Instead of visiting Shechem (Nablus), we spent a day in the ancient Jewish city of Zefat. For Bethlehem and Jericho, we substituted the rose-red rock city of Petra, and threw in a resort day” at Eilat on the Red Sea.

We cooled the heat of summer with Holy Land water. Waded in the Mediterranean surf. Kayaked down the upper Jordan. Splashed in the Sea of Galilee. Swam at Hammath Geder and Gan Hashelosha. Floated in the Dead Sea. Baptized a new believer amidst startled tropical fish in the Red Sea.

Best of all (for me) was digging at Bethsaida for a week. Archaeologists will point you to the only stretch of original road that we can be confident Jesus walked upon.

Suggestion: when in Tel Aviv, invite the Goldsteins or any of the Jews for Jesus staff to tell your group how they are making the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to the Jewish people in Israel.

It saddens me that Americans by the droves have canceled their plans to visit Israel. Not only are tourists missing out on a wonderful time, but 12,000 hotel workers have lost their jobs so far this year. Israelis are very appreciative of those who do choose to visit. From archaeologists to taxi drivers, everyone grasped our hands and said, “Thank you for coming!”

If you’re wavering, my advice to you is: Go! You’ll never get better hotel and restaurant rates, or cheaper bargains in the marketplace. Certainly you’ll never see shorter lines! Take my word for it—there has never been a better time for Christians to visit Israel.