Read an Excerpt
THE CHRISTIAN TRAVEL PLANNER
By Kevin J. Wright
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Kevin J. Wright
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCHRISTIAN TRAVEL OF YESTERDAY
Christian travel and general tourism are inextricably linked. Worldwide tourism as we know it today has its roots in faith-based travel. The earliest known days of leisure tourism date to the Egyptian Empire when religious festivities drew outside visitors. As people streamed into the city for celebrations, local businesses sprang up to meet the travelers' demands for lodging, food, guides, and transportation. This led to the birth of today's tourism industry.
In later years, the Greeks entered the arena of tourism. Tourist destinations for the Greeks included thermal baths and sacred sites. Greek religious festivals were also major attractions and later became sports and leisure outings. One of the world's earliest and largest tourist events was the Olympic Games in 776 BC, heavily promoted throughout ancient Greece. As in Egypt, hospitality-type services and businesses developed around the Games to assist the many visitors. Two centuries later, the Greek citizen Herodotus, the world's earliest travel writer, visited lands stretching from Athens to Egypt and Asia and reported on religious sites and events.
In Scripture, Deuteronomy 16:16 speaks of the Jews traveling on pilgrimage to the feasts: "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed." Mosaic Law required every Jewish male to observe each feast, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Feast of Booths (Succot). Exodus 23:17 and 34:23 also speak of similar pilgrimage acts.
Shiloh served as one of the first destinations for celebrating the Jewish feasts. Then, once Solomon built the Temple around 1000 BC, Jerusalem became the prime pilgrimage site. The Babylonian exile increased Jewish travel around 586 BC, and Herod's rebuilding of the Temple (approximately 20 BC) further heightened mass pilgrimages.
During the period of Roman domination from 27 BC to AD 476, travel flourished as people journeyed throughout the Empire. People traveled for a variety reasons: religious, trade, political, military, communication, and leisure. And don't forget the Magi, who traveled from the East for the birth of the Savior: "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.'" (Matthew 2:1-2)
Jesus traveled many times from Galilee to Jerusalem on pilgrimage, and much of the Gospel of John is centered on these travels (John 2:13, John 5:1, John 7:2-3, John 10:22-23, John 11-19). We also know that Jesus journeyed with his family to Jerusalem as a child to observe the feasts: "His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He [Jesus] was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem" (Luke 2:41-43).
After the death of Jesus, the apostles and disciples embarked on travels throughout the Roman Empire to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Among the most ardent travelers was the apostle Paul, who embarked over a span of several years on three missionary journeys to modern-day Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Rome. Other apostles made similar trips, including the apostle Thomas who, according to tradition, traveled to the Far East and preached in India.
Around AD 300, the Holy Land became one of the top destinations for travel. Three of the most famous pilgrims of this era are Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine; Egeria, a woman (possibly a nun) from the western Roman Empire; and an unknown traveler called the Bordeaux Pilgrim.
Helen traveled in the fourth century to Jerusalem where she is said to have discovered the cross upon which Jesus Christ died. Egeria traveled throughout Egypt, Israel, and Syria, most likely during the fourth century, and she also wrote a travel diary (today called Itinerarium Egeriae or "The Travels"). The unknown Bordeaux Pilgrim (from Bordeaux, France) was an anonymous Judeo-Christian traveler who made a trip to Jerusalem in AD 333 and wrote what is essentially the first pilgrimage travel guide. His chronicle included such travel information as descriptions of churches, monuments, landmarks, distances, and even tips on where to eat dinner! His works are known as the Itinerarium Burdigalense.
As time passed, Christian holy days became the norm for taking time off from work (the very word "holiday" comes from these medieval days of religious celebration and leisure). With the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century though, roads became fraught with danger, and people stayed within the confines of their communities. This led to people spending leisure time at home rather than traveling.
By the Middle Ages, long-distance travel again became vogue. As in earlier centuries, pilgrimages were one of the top reasons for making a journey. During this time, many people traveled in groups for both safety and community. Jerusalem, Rome, Canterbury, and Walsingham (England) became top tourist destinations.
The seventeenth century introduced a revolutionary new form of travel called The Grand Tour. In order to complete their education, young men from aristocratic families journeyed around Europe visiting many of the great cultural centers. This concept of group travel foreshadowed today's concept of mass tourism. The Industrial Revolution and the inventions of the railway and steamboat eventually brought travel to the middle class. In fact, in 1749, the first European travel guidebook was written.
In the midst of all this, missionary travel began to grow in earnest as well. Christian missionaries began traveling around the globe, even to the New World and the Far East. During this time, some of the first organized Protestant missionary activities were launched from Greenland to the West Indies. William Carey founded the British Baptist missions and became essentially the grandfather of modern missions. Catholic religious orders such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits also embarked on missionary travels around the world.
In 1841, a Methodist preacher by the name of Thomas Cook began what is recognized today as the first escorted tour company. In order to increase the number of people attending his religious Temperance Society meetings, Thomas organized group travel to his gatherings in Britain. From these religious gatherings, he then expanded the planned itineraries to other destinations. With a business firmly in place, Thomas offered the first overseas trip in 1861, and then in 1869, he led one of the first organized group trips to the Holy Land. The birth of escorted travel had officially begun.
At the start of the twentieth century, travel had become a mainstay not only in Europe but also throughout other parts of the world, including America. Christian travel began to take a backseat to other forms of travel as people traveled for the purpose of leisure, culture, health, or adventure. Near the end of the century, tourism expanded from an emerging market into one of the largest, fastest-growing sectors of the global economy.
Because of the improvements in transportation, including air travel, religious travel experienced a rebirth in the 1960s and again in the 1980s. A few companies and organizations even began specializing in Christian and missionary travel. During this same period, many people embarked on Christian retreats, which resulted in the expansion of guesthouses and conference centers. Christian camps also became a virtual rite of passage for many youth and a mainstay of American life.
By the end of the twentieth-century, Christian crusades and rallies had evolved from a phenomenon into a way of life for the Christian church. Billy Graham and T.D. Jakes, among others, attracted hundreds of thousands into packed stadiums and other major sports venues to share Christian faith and fellowship. The sheer volume of visitors to these events often "took over" those cities. World Youth Day was also born during this time, attracting millions of young adults from around the globe to see the Pope and share in Christian festivities every two or three years. Mega-events such as these unofficially brought to a close this era of Christian travel and ushered in a new and much more dynamic era for the twenty-first century.
Excerpted from THE CHRISTIAN TRAVEL PLANNER by Kevin J. Wright Copyright © 2007 by Kevin J. Wright. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.