The Good Book, the Bible enjoins Christians not to remove the ancient landmark. One of the ancient landmarks of Christendom is the holy land, Israel where we have historical sites of our cherished Christian faith. The visit of Christians to the holy land is not mandatory like other religions, but then the bible indirectly encourages us to do so. Those who have ever visited the holy land have testified that they experienced spiritual renewal and the strengthening of their Christian faith. Again, such pilgrimage makes the Bible come alive to the child of God. For that matter Christians and pastors have for many years advocated a sponsorship package for believers of the Christian faith to enable them to pay fora pilgrimage Jerusalem, Israel.
On the average it cost about $5,000 per person to visit the holy land. This includes plane fare, accommodation and other miscellaneous expenses. But how many Ghanaians can afford this cost? Additionally, the acquisition of visa on individual basis is very difficult. Sponsorship packages facilitated by the government makes the issue of visa acquisition quite easy. Therefore, discussions on some kind of government assisted sponsorship for Christians to visit the holy land has been ongoing for some time now.
The larger Christian community therefore breathed a sigh of relief when the government announced a few weeks ago that it has secured a sponsorship package for Christians to visit the holy land. Many were happy and confessed that God has answered their prayers.
A cross section of pastors at a meeting with the President at the Flagstaff house a week ago expressed worry at how the proposed Israel trip has been politicized in the media. Let’s be true and honest to ourselves, the Presidency revealed that the sponsorship money is not from the state coffers. Also, the claim that the monies could be used to cater for the poor is neither here nor there. The poor or all of Ghana’s problems will never be solved. We should be careful we don’t live to regret it one day or posterity may judge us for rejecting such a decent offer. One may humbly ask whether political parties reveal the identity of their sponsors likewise sponsors of football events? Can we for once trust government and some heads of churches who are vouching for the integrity of the sponsors? Others may also ask whether we can or we do verify the sources of our church members income before we accept their tithes and offerings? If some cross section of Christians have issues with the trip is that how to reciprocate this kind gesture? There is the need for sober reflection on the issues surrounding the Israel trip.
The heads of churches should have broader consultations with their rank and file before issuing statements that bother on the welfare of their followers.
We hope the government will not to be discouraged by the negative comments on this issue, but go ahead to implement the proposal made at the meeting with the President. That the pilgrimage trip to Israel must come on.
Rev.Ernest Agyei, Senior Pastor, Ringway Gospel Center of Assembly of God, Osu