Bob Fetterhoff first experienced the Holy Land in 1994 on a trip led by Pastor Jim Custer. At the time, Jim was the lead pastor of Grace Polaris Church in Westerville, Ohio, and Bob was the senior pastor at Grace Church of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.
“The Scriptures really came alive to me on that trip,” Bob said. “There was so much information. It was like drinking out of a fire hydrant.”
That first trip really got under Bob’s skin, and soon he went back for a second trip with Jim. He recalled following Jim around, peppering him with questions, and soaking up everything he could from him. “He was such a kind mentor to me on that trip, and has remained so over the years. We’ve often connected to talk about Israel, God’s redemptive plan, and end times prophecy.”
Bob began leading his own trips in 1996, and this April he will embark on his thirty-seventh tour of Israel, Greece, and Turkey. “The Bible really comes to life for people in these places,” Bob said. One friend commented after the trip, “I used to read the Bible in black and white. Now I read it in full color!”
“I love watching people experience the land for the first time and discover that the places they’ve read about in the Bible are real places where real events happened to real people, and that there’s real truth for their real life,” Bob said.
“Everyday we’re in the land there are lessons for my life that I learn through about the Scriptures,” Bob said. “The most important part of these trips is the application in someone’s life; Jim taught me the value of emphasizing that and it has shaped how I do things.”
On these trips, the groups visit famous places like Caesarea by the Sea, Nazareth, Jericho, Bethlehem, Istanbul, and Athens. They spend time learning Bible stories, walking where Jesus and the disciples walked, and experiencing the culture.
Late this summer Bob is leading a trip to a new area, following the sites and leaders associated with the Reformation in Europe. They will also experience a few castles and World War II historical sites. The trip begins in Berlin, Germany, and winds through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Bob described it as “an overview of the Reformation while enjoying the sites of Europe.”
A trip highlights include visiting significant sites relating to reformer Martin Luther such as Wittenberg, where he nailed the 95 theses to a church door, and Worms, where he was tried and refused to recant. Other notable stops on the tour are the Ulrich Zwingli monument in Zurich and the International Museum of the Reformation in Geneva. Along the way the group also takes in cultural elements such as visiting the birthplace of Mozart, the Lindt Home of Chocolate, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and elements of the former Berlin Wall.
“I want people to understand the personal lessons they can learn from history,” Bob said. “It’s really an investment in their spiritual journey and walk with God.”
Bob describes both the Holy Land and Europe tours as multifaceted. “These trips combine experiences of vacation, retreats, Bible college, and mission trip, all united into one experience.”
More information on the upcoming Holy Land and Europe tours can be found on Bob’s website here.