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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2018

Group that traveled to Israel with FCOC in March followed ‘in the footsteps of Jesus’

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News | May 01, 2018
Photo by: Submitted photo FCOC Pastors Monte and Peggy Knudsen invited 39 people who have ties to their church on a 10-day trip to Israel, which took place in March.

It will take a lifetime for the 39 people from Faith Christian Outreach Center in Mt. Pleasant and surrounding churches to unpack everything they experienced on their trip to Israel in March.

Although many in the group started the 10-day trip as acquaintances, they traveled home together friends, having experienced the Bible brought to life.


Tenth trip

“The joy of going to Israel is the joy of our Christianity and our belief in Jesus Christ,” said Faith Christian Outreach (FCOC) senior pastor Monte Knudsen, discussing in particular how celebratory his 10th trip to the nation was with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state upon them.

Each traveler was responsible for paying for their own passage, which Monte said individually was under $4,000 each. For Monte, it is an honor and a privilege to travel with a group of like-minded believers who have never been to Israel before. Monte believes that not only does Israel hold the past of Christianity, but it holds the future and is biblically relevant to the history of Christianity.

“You get to follow the footsteps of Jesus, but you’re seeing literal miracles in front of your eyes.”


Leap of faith

Johan Roberts-Hecker can attest to those miracles. From walking through the valley at the foot of Israel’s Mt. Megiddo where the final battle of Armageddon is believed to be fought to being baptized in the Jordan River, Hecker didn’t know at her age that she could experience change like that.

The entire trip was a leap of faith for Hecker, who had planned on going with her then-husband eight years ago before he suffered from a heart attack followed by a stroke. After that, it just wasn’t in the cards until FCOC senior pastor Peggy Knudsen reached out to Hecker, saying there was an extra ticket.

“Everybody watched out for me like I was their mother,” Hecker said. “There was just so much that changed me on the inside. Maybe nobody can see it on the outside.”


Jordan River

Hecker’s baptism in the Jordan River was a particularly giant leap of faith. Hecker doesn’t know how to swim. While Hecker said it was an amazing experience, at the time it was humorous because of the convincing it took on the part of Monte that he wasn’t going to let her go.

“I thought the current was strong. I couldn’t get my feet any where so they just flopped up in the air,” Hecker said.

“Hold onto me, hold onto me,” Monte lovingly mimicked what Hecker was saying to him at the time of her baptism.

In the midst of the chaos and mild hilarity of Hecker’s baptism, she later reflected on it wishing for a more spiritual experience when she heard God say to her, “You had it. I’ve always be with you, and I’ll never let you go.”

“To me that just settled it,” Hecker said. “It didn’t matter how much everybody laughed or how my feet flopped up, it was just that God has always been with me, even when I didn’t know it.”


Time to go

Just like Hecker, Tony and Lynn Fedler didn’t expect to be traveling to Israel this past spring. Although with each trip Monte has taken, the Fedlers have expressed interest in, “life got in the way,” Tony said.

This time, however, Monte picked up the phone and told Tony that it was time.

“Something came over us and it was time to go — hook, line and sinker,” Tony said.

Before the trip, Tony heard a lot of people questioning if he was afraid to travel to Israel, but while he was there he said he never felt safer. Now back on U.S. soil, he believes every Christian should take the opportunity to see Israel and get “filled spiritually.”

Tony particularly pointed out how it brings to life the passages of scripture he has read all his life. Now, he can pick up his Bible and say, “I’ve been there.”

“Everything fell into place once you got there,” David Shadle recalled when it comes to piecing together passages of the Bible.



David and Chris Shadle are two other travelers for whom the trip fell into place. Newlyweds, instead of asking for wedding gifts, they asked for money for their trip, which added up for just enough for one ticket. The other, they scraped together funds for. But it was worth it, David assured.

In fact, they’re already planning a return trip. “We want to go back. We’re trying to find a way for enough funds to go back,” David said.

Moments like sitting on a boat on the Sea of Galilee are when David said he would get scripture “rolling through” his head such as Jesus walking on water or sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion.

Walking away from the trip, travelers are still trying to digest everything they saw and learned, especially when it comes to how it plays a role in their faith.



David believes his stories from Israel will serve as a great witnessing tool. FCOC Executive Pastor of Media Brant Knudsen said that now he feels like he has more compassion. Tony sees it as help to deal with life’s troubles.

“The good Lord isn’t going to give me anything I can’t handle,” Tony said.

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