Ten International Destinations With a Purpose for 2012

Kristin Wright | Open Doors USA | Friday, January 20, 2012

Ten International Destinations With a Purpose for 2012

Considering taking an international trip with a purpose? This year trace the journeys of the Apostle Paul through Greece, Turkey, and Rome, visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, or tour the churches of the Reformation in Europe. International destinations for travelers of faith abound throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and beyond. It's the perfect time to explore reconciliation efforts in Rwanda, reach out to earthquake victims in Haiti, or visit China's persecuted church.

This year there are numerous opportunities for faith-affirming journeys throughout the world. Explore these options to get a head-start on trip planning.

Trace the Steps of St. Paul through Greece, Turkey, and Rome

Sail along Greece's exquisite coastline, and trace the journey of the Apostle Paul throughout the ancient cities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Beria, Kavala, Istanbul, Bergama, Ephesus, Miletus, Philippi, Patmos, Rome, Corinth, and Pompeii. Reformation Tours is just one company offering an affordable 16-day journey throughout Greece, Turkey, and Rome, allowing visitors to trace the steps of the apostle while enjoying historical sites and breathtaking scenery.

Reach Out to Earthquake Victims in Haiti

Help Haiti's earthquake victims through volunteering. Heart to Heart International is one organization galvanizing support for Haitians affected by the disaster. Heart to Heart is “improving global health through initiatives that connect people and resources to a world in need” – and that means the organization is on the ground in Haiti, providing medical care and supplies to those who need it most. Volunteer to help here.

Tour the Catacombs in Rome

Take a step back in time to experience the maze of underground caves and burial sites where the earliest Christians held worship services during times of persecution. The catacombs provide a rare glimpse into the earliest days of the Christian church, as well as fascinating examples of ancient art.

Experience Reconciliation in Rwanda

The documentary and subsequently released book As We Forgive have highlighted the unique challenges facing Rwandans as they move beyond the 1994 genocide. Organizations such as Prison Fellowship International have undertaken powerful reconciliation initiatives, bringing victims and offenders together to rebuild the troubled nation. Experience the natural beauty of Rwanda and the power of forgiveness through volunteering with African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries.

Worship at Hillsong in Australia

Visit one of the most renowned churches in the world today, Hillsong in Australia. Numerous Christian pop and worship songs have emerged to international acclaim from the mega-church, which was founded in Sydney “to reach and influence the world by building a large Christ-centered, Bible-based church, changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life,” according to the Hillsong website. While there, visit the beautiful Sydney beaches and explore destinations such as Royal National Park and the Sydney Harbor Islands. Parliament House and the Queen Victoria building are other must-see sites.

Visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

Each year thousands of tourists pour into Bethlehem to visit the traditional birthplace of Christ. The Church of the Nativity is an exquisite tribute to Christ's birth. Other nearby sites include the Shepherd's Fields, the site where tradition says the angels appeared to the shepherds, announcing the birth of Christ. For more intrepid explorers, the Nativity Trail offers a 12-day journey tracing the steps of Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem.

Tour Reformation Sites Throughout Europe

For history fans, one powerful way to experience the Protestant reformation is by tracing the steps of the reformers. Visit Luther's Germany, exploring destinations such as Berlin, Wittenberg, Erfurt, Eisenach, Worms, Rothenburg, Rudesheim, Salzburg, Munich, and Prien. Or follow in the footsteps of such renowned reformers as Zwingli, Spurgeon, Wesley, Huss, and Calvin. Historical sites of the Reformation abound throughout Germany, Austria, England, and Scotland.

Visit the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

Remember the final hours of Christ's time on earth by visiting the Garden of Gethsemane, located at the base of the Mount of Olives. The site where Christ prayed for hours ahead of His crucifixion remains one of the most visited religious sites in the world. Tours of the site occur daily, as visitors explore and experience the location.

Tour South Africa with World Vision

The massive international aid group works with pastors and congregations on trips that inspire both learning and service. Tour beautiful areas of South Africa and serve those in need by volunteering. “The trip begins with a two-day conference, and then visits to communities where you will experience the day-to-day realities of life in a developing nation and see transformational development in action,” according to the World Vision website. “During the final debrief you will can explore the ways your church can partner long-term with children, churches and a community in need to transform lives physically and spiritually.”

Support Churches in China

Each year, Open Doors USA brings individuals from throughout the world together to visit and support Christians in other countries. Destinations include Vietnam, China, Indonesia, and Kenya, among other countries. China is among the most popular destinations, as visitors can engage with members of the communist country's vast system of house churches. “Christianity continues to grow rapidly,” in China according to Open Doors. “Sources report that government representatives have been in dialogue with some house church leaders, leading many to believe the government has finally understood the house church is not a political threat to the state.”

Kristin Wright is a contributing writer at Crosswalk.com, where she covers topics related to human rights, international travel, social justice, women's issues, religious freedom, and refugee resettlement. For further articles, visit her website at kristinbutler.net or email [email protected].

Publication date: January 20, 2012

Ten International Destinations With a Purpose for 2012