Members of the third set of the Rose of Sharon Glorious Ministry International (ROSGMI) that travelled to Israel on pilgrimage last November are still savouring the experience.
It was a colourful team that departed the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, that day, dressed in their Ankara green and cream outfit.
The journey to Israel through Addis Ababa was all fun and exciting.
The tour began immediately the team landed in Israel before 6am the next day. The Israeli tour guide, Sima Even, gave the group no breathing space as she took the team round the phenomenal places in Israel, including Joppa (one of the oldest seaport cities in Israel), House of Simon the Tanner (where St. Peter resided while he was in Jaffa), Mount Carmel, which is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast and Wishing Bridge in Old Jaffa.
The journey kicked off early the following day. The team visited Cana of Galilee, Nazareth Village, Mount of Transfiguration, and others. It was an energy-sapping but enjoyable experience.
The group journeyed to Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the course of the trip. The two significant places visited in Bethlehem centred around the birth of Jesus Christ, where he was born and the place where the angels announced his birth to the Shepherds. Jerusalem was the third place visited before the team headed to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested.
The team also visited the house of Caiaphas, where Jesus was first tried and spent the night in a dungeon, and the street he passed through carrying his cross to the place where he was crucified.
Indeed, the trip to Israel provided the team the opportunity to see the Holy Bible in reality.
Some members of the team expressed joy at the opportunity to visit Israel. Mrs. Olurinde Yemisi said: “I want to appreciate our mummy, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, for giving me the privilege and opportunity to travel out of the country and visit the Holy Land. The experience was wonderful.”
Akinola Kehinde, a vocalist in ROSGMI, said: “The journey is seeing the Bible coming into reality. It makes me fear God the more.”
A seamstress and widow, Lucy Iheanacho, thanked the sponsor, Mrs. Alakija, for financing the trip.
“If not for Folorunso Alakija of Rose of Sharon, I won’t have been to Israel. Through her, God turned my life around,” she said.
The group returned to Nigeria after nine days in the Holy Land. A few days after, the Servant Leader of Rose of Sharon Glorious Ministry, Mrs. Alakija, hosted the pilgrims at a special welcome back service. That was also the day the pilgrims presented their JP certificates to Alakija.
Speaking at the service, Alakija said she wanted to send 25 members on pilgrimage in 2018, but some did not pass the in-house test: “Those that passed had another hurdle to cross and that was the questions and answers with immigration service, which some of them did not pass.”
She said the major immigration rule is that intending pilgrims must have a job. “Only 15 ended up going out of 25. I had paid for 19 pilgrims but money for four people was paid back to us.
“I’m saying this so that the next group going in 2019 would know what is required. You also need to be married. However, if you are not married but you are working, you stand a chance. But don’t go and get married because of this because you might get married to the wrong person.”
She urged members of the fellowship who wish to embark on the same trip in 2019 to do the needful by studying their bible to enable them pass the in-house test. They should also get a job, she said.
“If you want to be living off other people, it’s not going to work. We wanted to send 25 people on this trip in 2018 and we could only send 15. We thank God for those who have gone and come back. To God be the glory. We are promising to send another 25 in 2019. It’s up to you so that you can begin to prepare and God will make it possible for you.”
Asked why she sponsored people to Jerusalem, she said: “It is a command I received from the Lord while preaching on the pulpit. I have to obey. I was not told the number of people to take yearly but I just decide to start with 20 pilgrims. It is not cheap. It is almost a million naira per person and they are given $500 as allowance.”
Ebun Makinde, who spoke on behalf of the pilgrims, commended Alakija and said she had brought value to their lives.
“When I got on the flight, I was crying like a baby. I would not have been there without Mrs. Alakija. If all the rich people in the world have the kind of heart that you have, many lives would be changed,” she said.