The website is the retirement project of a Christian journalist in New Zealand, Pat McCarthy, who in recent years has led pilgrimages to Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Greece.
He developed the website (www.seetheholyland.net) to encourage pilgrimages to the Holy Land. In words and photographs, it describes 70 holy places, mainly New Testament sites — almost of all of which Pat has visited at least once.
It also covers what it is to be a pilgrim, the authenticity of sites, travel tips and how to organize a pilgrimage.
Seetheholyland.net can also provide a “virtual” pilgrimage for those who can’t go.
At the website launch in Auckland, New Zealand, on May 21, Pat said he sees two main reasons to encourage pilgrimages to the Holy Land:
“First,” he said, “for the real spiritual benefit Christian pilgrims get from visiting places associated with the life of Christ and second, to show solidarity with the declining number of Christians still living in the Holy Land.”
McCarthy went on to say, “Economic and political pressure has been forcing Christians out of the Holy Land. In Israel and the Palestinian Territories, for example, less than 2% of the population is now Christian.
“Christ’s birthplace of Bethlehem, in the West Bank, is now a mainly Muslim town. There are more Christians from Bethlehem living in Santiago, Chile, than there are in Bethlehem.”
Although www.Seetheholyland.net is independent from church, government or commercial interests, it has already received praise from people in these sectors, both in the Holy Land and beyond.
Todd Bolen, a professor of biblical studies at the Israel campus of California-based The Master’s College who is currently on study leave in the US, said on his widely-read BiblePlaces Blog (http://blog.bibleplaces.com) : “This looks like a terrific resource.”
Dan Wooding, ANS
For more information, contact: Pat McCarthy, Director, www.seetheholyland.net
PO Box 147000, Ponsonby, Auckland 1144, New Zealand
Tel. 649-4804463 and e-mail: email@example.com