This March, 37 adventurous people took part in the 2019 Nazareth Challenge. The 5-day event offered the chance to walk a route known as the Jesus Trail or cycle the Three Seas Challenge, all raising funds to support renovation work at the Nazareth Hospital’s Maternity Department.
Both the Jesus Trail and the Three Seas Challenge have been selected for their stunning routes, opportunities to visit many historical sites and for their biblical significance.
Starting in Nazareth, the Jesus Trail group spent 5 days hiking 65 km to Capernaum. Highlights of this carefully created route included the archaeological ruins of Zippori village, sweeping Galilee views of the Horns of Hattin, Nebu Shu’eib (the holiest shrine of the Druze religion) and of course the stunning vistas of the Galilean countryside in full bloom.
Every day provided a completely different experience for our walkers. Accommodation included staying in B&B’s run by Arab families, hotels located in Jewish Kibbutz’s and guest houses on the Sea of Galilee’s shore. A real highlight each day was lunch. A feast of a meal was prepared daily by different departments of the Nazareth Hospital and transported out to each lunch stop.
Our 24 walkers, were joined by hospital staff and SERVE volunteers on sections of the route, providing the opportunity to engage more with local Nazarenes and those on longer-term volunteer placements in Israel.
It was amazing and such a privilege to walk over the fields and enjoy the flowers and the wildlife – so different from the tours we met who saw nothing of the countryside and were bussed from site to site.
The Three Seas Challenge was in many ways a completely different experience to the Jesus Trail. While still visiting historic sites and accommodation ranging from Kibbutz’s to guest houses, covering over 300km meant that our 12 cyclists (and one amazing volunteer driver) experienced a far wider terrain. Starting on the shores of the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv, our bikers cycled to Nazareth through forest hills, along part of the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert. Perhaps the highlight of the trip was passing Mar Saba, the oldest monastery in the Holy Land. A truly impressive site, founded in the 5th century, the monastery perches on a cliff edge.
Both our walkers and cyclists had many opportunities to reflect upon the spiritual nature of the Nazareth Challenge and the biblical significance of the places they visited. They were reminded of the amazing miracles which took place at sites they visited, such as Jesus healing a paralytic man in Capernaum.
Mar Saba Monastery
The welcome on our return was overwhelming; it was heart-warming…to be heralded in with pipes and drums, for just having had the experience of a lifetime!
The Nazareth Challenge finished with our walkers and cyclists arriving back into Nazareth together. For the closing celebrations they were met by a pipe band and staff from the Nazareth Trust who welcomed them to the Nazareth Hospital.
Their shared experiences and time helped to bring our groups together, uniting them with a common bond and joint mission. Not only to complete their personal challenge, but also to raise money to support the Trust’s work and specifically this year, to help renovate the Nazareth Hospital’s Maternity Department so we can provide the best care possible for new mothers and their babies in Nazareth.
We’re delighted to say that our amazing participants raised £64,986.11/$82,159.01. A huge thank you goes to them and to all those who donated.
The bike ride was *amazing* – I totally loved it.
There are many reasons our walkers and cyclists joined us. Some are passionate supporters of our work in Nazareth, some were looking for new adventures, others were on a pilgrimage and maybe a few just fancied a really long walk. Whatever their motivation, the Nazareth Trust has been truly blessed by these wonderful participants and we offer our sincere thanks and gratitude.