Walking ‘The Jesus Trail’

Published 10:40 pm Wednesday, December 4, 2013

By Frank Roberts

It was a small blurb in “Mature Living,” a monthly magazine that is read, religiously, by Southern Baptists across the country.

There is a section where proud relatives write in to brag about the cuteness of children in their families.

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The December edition features a letter from Anne F. Orrell of Smithfield, similar to one she sent to the magazine in 2009.

The cute story of cute 4-year-old Kevin probably elicited beaucoup smiles. I joined the ‘smilers,’ then called the nice lady only to find out that the ‘adorable’ child is now 26 and helped author a book about “The Jesus Trail,” which I will tell you about soon.

But first, here is what happened when he was a tad, walking in downtown Portsmouth with Granny, about a week after a family reunion.

She wrote that Kevin became concerned when he learned Aunt Lizzie was 97. “He asked me, ‘How old will I be when you are 97?’ I did some rapid calculations and told him he would be 47 years old. I also told him I would probably have gone to Heaven by then. His face lit up with excitement as he said, ‘You’ll be enjoying your mansion, won’t you?’”

The reference, of course, comes from John 14:2, which I encourage you to look up. Today, Kevin is a student at New York University working on his master’s degree, while working for the city of New York. He is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, a liberal arts Christian college in Harrisonburg.

And, as mentioned, he worked on “The Jesus Trail” book. But first, in the interest of fair play, here is a look what got his sister, Caitlan, in the same magazine in 2009.

It was at a dinner, when Grandma put six beans on her brother’s plate and four on hers, corresponding with their birthdays.

Grandma got a regular serving, but Caitlan who, these days, lives next door to Mrs. Orrell, dumped a bunch of beans out and had them counted until there were 63, paralleling Grandma’s age.

The little girl also noted that the best foods begin with the letter “C” — cookies, cakes, chocolate, corn.

Back to Kevin’s pet project: “The Jesus Trail” is based on a verse from Matthew describing the start of Jesus’ public ministry, when he moved from his hometown of Nazareth down to Capernaum, a journey of about 40 miles. Matthew 4:13, Matthew 9:1, and Mark 2:1 offer explanations, with Mark 2:1 explaining how to travel.

The free hike is a physical challenge, a rugged pilgrimage.

It is designed as a series of day hikes, giving the hiker a more personal experience of what it might have been like to literally walk with Jesus. And it has been a boost to the Israeli economy.

Most important, it traces the northern Israeli trail Jesus probably walked, connecting many sites from His life and ministry.

The trail was founded in 2007 by two hiking enthusiasts, Maoz Inon, described by Wikipedia as “a Jewish Israeli entrepreneur,” and David Landis, a Christian from America.

The sights include Nazareth, Sepphoris, Cana, Hattin, Arbel, Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tahgha, the Mount of Beatitudes. It threads through Arab villages, an Israeli eco-tourist goat farm, and an Orthodox kibbutz with kosher automated milking machines. The area is quite peaceful.

One young hiker wrote: “We ducked under barbed wire, waded through spiky milk thistle, and slid down a hillside that was too steep to walk. I couldn’t help wondering: Is this what Jesus did?”

For more information go to Jesustrail.com/guidebook. That is the publication that young Kevin had a hand in writing.

During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at froberts73@embarqmail.com.