Why tour the Holy Land with Good Shepherd Travel
Good Shepherd Travel is a family-run Christian business with deep ties to the Holy Land
Most tour operators in the United States are using large tourist firms that conduct their tours in the Holy Land the same way they would put together a program in any other part of the world. Their goal is to fill up a tour bus and move their customers from site to site as quickly as possible to complete their itinerary.
There are also tour operators who claim to provide “VIP Service” but are little more than bus drivers who take groups from site to site without providing pilgrims an understanding of what they are seeing.
The Good shepherd holy land tour experience
Good Shepherd Travel was established to provide a quality option for Christians to have a truly comprehensive, spiritual pilgrimage that would allow for participants to truly understand the Holy Land. It’s not enough to simply to be chaperoned from site to site and be told what you are looking at. A true pilgrimage allows for the pilgrim to enrich their knowledge and understanding of the sites important to their faith, and to experience their faith through the five senses of hearing, taste, touch, smell and sight. Good Shepherd Travel facilitates a pilgrimage by handling all the details of your tour, including the program itinerary, ground arrangements (including guides, transportation, accommodation and meals), and any special requests to visit a particular site, meet with a particular religious order or individual, or to fix a simple request, such as stopping a little longer at a particular sight that has a special meaning to the group or an individual pilgrim. Each pilgrimage must reflect the unique characteristics and nature of the particular group, and we will work with you and your faith community to make sure that it happens.
Good Shepherd Travel uses Christian guides, and Christian-owned hotels, restaurants, shops and other service providers whenever and wherever possible, as a means to support the local Christian community. You can read more about that here.
Good Shepherd Travel is ready to make your pilgrimage to the Holy Land the spiritual experience that will be a life-changing moment for you, your friends, family, faith community and fellow pilgrims.
Holy Land Tour Testimonies
About Good Shepherd Travel
Good Shepherd Travel is a pilgrimage company, based in Fort Worth, Texas. It is owned and operated by Tony Abuaita, who moved to the United States in 1990 from Beit Sahour in the Holy Land, a few miles from Bethlehem, and the place where the shepherd’s first heard the news of the birth of Christ unto the world. Beit Sahour is one the largest Christian communities in the Middle East, and is well known for the production of olive wood handicrafts for pilgrims.
Tony established Good Shepherd Travel for one purpose: to bring Christians from the United States to the Holy Land on safe, affordable and meaningful pilgrimages to better their understanding of their faith, and to help support the Christian presence in his home country.
Good Shepherd Travel provides both fixed pilgrimages that can be joined by individuals, families and small groups, and chartered pilgrimages that parishes and faith communities can join. Private individual and family pilgrimages can also be organized.
Good Shepherd Travel provides customized package tour programs for its clients for all ground expenses upon arrival in the Holy Land. We can also provide extensions to Mount Nebo, Madaba and Petra in Jordan, as well as the Sinai in Egypt. For pilgrimage groups that wish to organize their own travel to and from the Holy Land, we will work with you and your travel agent concerning coordinating flight bookings and travel insurance.
For more questions, please contact Tony AbuAita via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Toll Free: 1-84-Holy Land (1-844-659-5263).
THE POWER OF PARTNERING WITH HOLY LAND CHRISTIANS
A Testimony from Tony AbuAita, owner of Good Shepherd Travel
Whenever I am asked “Are you a Christian?” by my fellow Americans as I go about my life in Texas, I can usually guess that the next question will be “who converted you?” I am always quick to respond, “Jesus Christ, about two thousand years ago!”
Arab Christians may be a small part of the Holy Land, but we have played an important part in keeping the faith that we all share alive and well in the place where it was born. Our families have lived and dwelled in the Holy Land since the time of Christ, living with the many people who have come since the time of Jesus Christ. We have our own unique customs and traditions, and we pride ourselves on having a special connection to the places of pilgrimage that you will see on your trip to the Holy Land. What a less joyful place the Holy Land would be without local Christians celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem, or Easter in Jerusalem!
Arab Christians also have a unique role to play as “bridge-builders” between the Christians across the world and the Holy Land. One of the many reasons that I founded Good Shepherd Travel was so that I could “practice what I preach” and bring people to my home, so that they could better see and understand their faith, but also to witness to the Christians who are still living in the Holy Land, sometimes under difficult circumstances.
In Bethlehem which is the heart of the Christian community in the Holy Land, tourism is the single most important source of income for Christian families. Practically every family has at least someone involved in the tourist trade. Guiding groups, driving buses, running hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the local economy works. Without tourism, all these people and the people that supply the services and products that make their businesses run collapse. In recent years, we’ve seen far too many Christians leave the Holy Land for America and other places because there just wasn’t enough work.
This is not something that anyone wants to see happen, especially me, and so I have always wanted to be able to support my family and friends back home by bringing over pilgrimage groups and using their services when and where possible. In this way, I help do two things: provide work for people that I care about who need it, and also provide a way for pilgrims to connect with “the living stones” of my home, so that they can learn more about the people who keep Christianity alive and well in the Holy Land.
Keep in mind that I only use the people who can provide my groups with the right kind of service. After all, I won’t compromise the quality of my pilgrimages. But I’ve discovered that while we may be small in number, Holy Land Christians provide some of the best services in the Holy Land – enough to make my groups insist that they use them over big companies. Now THAT to me is something special!
Support a family tradition that goes back 2,000 years – and learn about the Holy Land Christians while on your pilgrimage through Good Shepherd Travel!
The story of the Good Shepherd
In John 10, Verse 14, Christ says “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I'm known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father.”
The image of Christ as the Good Shepherd was one of the strongest themes in early Christianity. Indeed, statues, mosaics and frescoes depicting The Good Shepherd are some of the most common early depictions of Christ.
In the world of the Pre-Christian Mediterranean, where Christianity spread first and fastest, the concept of Christ as a good shepherd resonated with people who were closely connected to a society that depended on shepherding. In pre-Christian Greece and Rome, gods paid homage to shepherds, as can be seen in Banias (formerly Panias, or city of Pan, the Shepherd God) in the Golan. It is no wonder then, that Christ’s revelation of himself as “the Good Shepherd” was immediately understood to be an indication of his divine nature to both the educated and the simple villagers alike. The significance of the Angel Gabriel appearing before the shepherds of Bethlehem to tell of the Savior being born in a manger was not lost on the early Christians, who saw that Christ, rather than being born in a pagan temple or stately palace of a great king, had been brought into the world for them as much as the Three Magi, who bowed before Him with equal reverence.
For people living in the modern world, shepherding may seem to be a unique, fun past-time. In actuality, shepherding requires a level of knowledge of the terrain, perseverance and watchfulness that one must learn from an early age. For a poor family, even the loss of a single sheep in a large flock could mean the difference between feast or famine. In the Holy Land of today, shepherding remains a time-honored trade in many parts of the Judean and Samarian hills, and the Palestinian Christian city of Beit Sahour, place of the Shepherd’s Field, translated as “place of the watchers.”
We at Good Shepherd Travel chose our name to symbolize the connection to the parable of the Good Shepherd with our own trade; that of providing pilgrimages to the Holy land. Like the Good Shepherd, we consider it our duty to make sure that “we know our own, and we are known by our own” at all stages of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; from the planning stage until its successful conclusion. Being a good shepherd of pilgrims is more than a business for us. It is a labor of love that we undertake to provide the best possible experience in the land that is both our physical and spiritual home, so that our pilgrims will return home with a better understanding of their faith and the land in which it was born. At Good Shepherd Travel, we ask you to put your trust in us, and experience the Holy Land through us, your watchful, knowledgeable “Good Shepherds,” for the pilgrimage of a lifetime!