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Israel Ministry of Tourism Hosts Prominent Christian Leaders on Their First Trip to Israel

Leaders Commit to Return with their Congregations

Contact: Gail Barzilay, Israel Ministry of Tourism, 212-499-5647, gailbarzilay@imot.org

NEW YORK, Sept. 30 /Christian Newswire/ -- On September 9, the Israel Ministry of Tourism welcomed nine mega-church pastors and their spouses on an eight-day educational tour of Israel, where they visited, taught, and prayed at biblical sites, and met with members of the Israeli Government. The trip of first-time guests was hosted and led by Mark and Susie Dreistadt, President and Vice President of Infinity Concepts. This was a pilot program initiated by the Israel Ministry of Tourism to introduce influential Christian leaders to Israel and allow them to experience Israel for themselves.

"In Israel, we met friendly and enthusiastic people, enjoyed incredible meals and beautiful hotels, visited biblical and historic sites, and most of all experienced life-changing faith encounters," said Infinity Concepts President Mark Dreistadt. "Everyone in the group continually echoed the same sentiment: Now that they have visited Israel, they will never be the same."

The visit to Israel began at Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv on September 9 where the group was met by representatives of the Israel Ministry of Tourism. During their stay in Israel, the group spent time visiting many biblical sites as well as meeting with Nir Barkat, the newly elected mayor of Jerusalem.

"The people of Israel count it a great honor to have welcomed such influential guests," said Arie Sommer, Israel's Tourism Commissioner for North and South America. "We appreciate the solidarity demonstrated by these pastors and their spouses, and the promise to lead their congregations on a trip to Israel. We truly believe when they visit Israel, they will never be the same."

The group featured pastors from California, Oregon, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Alabama, and Kentucky. Each of the participants on this educational tour of Israel have voluntarily committed to returning to Israel in the coming months with members of their congregations.

"We were privileged to visit the very places that I have read about for more than 50 years, that are so central to my faith; I simply found myself overwhelmed," said Pastor Rick Scarborough, Pastor of Harvest Point Church in Nacogdoches, Texas. "I fully intend to bring my own group every year for the remainder of my active days."

For information about the trip, including itinerary, participants, and quotes from participants, please visit www.israeltrip2009.com

About the Israel Ministry of Tourism (www.goisrael.com)  
With its central office in Jerusalem, Israel, the Israel Ministry of Tourism leads the State of Israel's efforts at maintaining a strong tourism industry. The Ministry of Tourism promotes tourism to Israel via its Israel Government Tourist Offices in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.