In October 2022, I took part in my 19th Charity Challenge for the Nazareth Hospital, 25 years after my first bike ride in 1997.
I am delighted to report a total of £3,810 was raised to go towards the much-needed expansion of the Pastoral Care Team. A total of £71,587 was raised over 18 bike rides and one trek, or £3,768 for each year.
The trek followed the Jesus Trail, starting in Nazareth and winding its way to Cana via Zippori, before heading down to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee, visiting Mount Arbel and Magdala en route. With a few exceptions, the route followed the way Jesus would have walked between his hometown of Nazareth and the towns and villages around the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The first day involved walking 33,000 steps in temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius. Thereafter, the weather, whilst still warm, cooled and the average steps were reduced to a more manageable 26,000 steps.
I was one of 14 trekkers, five from Scotland; two from England; two from Northern Ireland; three from the USA and two from the Netherlands. Members of the Nazareth Trust Staff, along with members of the Hospital Chaplaincy team, took turns to walk with us every day.
It was great to visit the Nazareth Hospital and to meet up and socialise with Arab Christian friends. The motto of the Hospital is Healing in the name of Jesus (since 1861). I am always impressed by the practical demonstration of love in such a racially divided society. I was again privileged to be able to visit and worship at the Nazareth Baptist Church on the Sunday.
I was able to visit the grave of Kaloost Vartan, the missionary doctor sent to Nazareth from Edinburgh 161 years ago, who founded the Hospital. The graves of his Scottish wife, Mary Anne Stewart and of five of their ten children, who died in infancy, are buried beside him.
I loved the trek and the comradeship of my fellow trekkers. The trek presented different, however equally challenging issues to the bike ride. In my heart, I will always be a bike rider, although it was my “heart” that resulted in my reluctant conversion. I would recommend both challenges to raise funds and awareness of the great work of the Nazareth Hospital.
Thanks again for the amazing generosity and support. Have a Blessed Christmas and a Healthy/Prosperous New Year.