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IBEX Family & Friends Program

Program Description

At the core of our Family and Friends trip to Israel are the parents and relatives who have children attending at The Master’s University IBEX campus. However, we also open the trip to those who may have no direct connection to IBEX or TMU. We invite you to join field instructor, Dr. Michael Grisanti, for a ten-day trip to Israel in March 2021. The Family & Friends Program is arranged for you to visit Israel, explore the historical and biblical sites, and be introduced to our IBEX program. Opportunities for several meals and fun times together with the students have been arranged. Some sites of significance on the itinerary include the Sea of Galilee and Galilee region, the Shephelah, the Dead Sea, the Jordan River, and of course, Jerusalem.

Our trip is not a slow-moving tourist trip, but a fun and engaging study trip, with an emphasis on how the land of Israel connects with the Bible. Our desire is to help each participant better understand the land of the Bible through our time together. We will provide a pre-trip orientation packet and field notes to help you follow along with the instruction. We will do a fair bit of walking to several sites and ride the bus for other stops.

View Itinerary

Your Host

Dr. Michael Grisanti is professor of Old Testament at The Master’s Seminary. He has been actively involved in ministries around the world, which have brought him to Albania, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Dr. Grisanti has contributed to the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, the Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook, and the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. He wrote the commentary on Deuteronomy in the revised edition of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary and was one of three authors for The World and The Word. He also wrote the Deuteronomy commentary in the recently published The Baker Illustrated Bible Background Commentary. Dr. Grisanti loves the land of Israel and has been there over 30 times to study the land and lead study trips. Seven of his eight children have studied on the IBEX campus.

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“The trip has transformed our lives and has given us a new, fresh perspective on our daily readings of God’s Word. Though we did not spend a month in Israel and only a week, the places we visited and knowledge we gained was an incredible blessing… Our trip to Israel left us with a yearning to return and as we read God’s Word to be able to visualize the words on paper in our minds!”

Jack Faust, 2015 F&F participant

“We were so thankful to have a tour guide like Dr. Grisanti–his insights, in-depth knowledge of the Bible, and ‘contagious’ love for history exceeded our expectations for the tour… The support material and literature provided laid a solid foundation for seeing and touring each site and has been used countless times since returning home and ‘reliving’ and sorting out all we saw and experienced… Since touring Israel, I noticed that I have been much more aware of and mindful of this year’s Passion Week. I have a deeper understanding and perspective of Christ’s final week on earth, and helpful memories and greater awareness of the events surrounding Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. My husband John and I are very thankful that we were able to travel with the 2015 Family and Friends tour of Israel and are encouraging others to seriously consider and prefer a tour lead by TMU/TMS.”

Connie Dugas, 2015 F&F participant

10 years ago, our son attended IBEX and my husband attended that Family & Friends trip. The 2017 Family & Friends was my first Israel trip. The 2017 Family & Friends trip was a blessing. I appreciated Dr. Michael Grisanti’s daily devotions/encouragement on our bus ride toward our destinations, and how he associated passages of Scripture to the places where we traveled. We didn’t just visit places, each day we marveled at how God worked in the land, protected His own, and I believe God was honored by what was taught, and the extra bonus was what we saw. Together with the Satellite Bible Atlas, this time helped me understand the significance of the cities we visited. Now when places are mentioned in Scripture, I can visualize some of the places. It was truly a memorable visit to a special place where the OT Patriarchs, our Savior and the early church leaders lived and walked during their days on earth.

Lisa Low, 2017 F&F participant

Both my wife and I had been to Israel decades earlier, but we jumped at the chance to join the Israel study tour while our daughter was there for the semester studying through the IBEX program at The Master’s University. This trip was incredibly rewarding and more meaningful, as the resource material we received in advance and the Bible Atlas we received while on the tour added tremendous depth to our experience. That, and the extensive knowledge and teaching from Dr. Grisanti and our Israeli guide made it a tremendous blessing. We also enjoyed the fellowship from some wonderful like-minded believers we met on the trip. This was way more than just another tourist trip. Thank you for providing such a great privilege to see and travel throughout Israel.

Jay Russell, 2017 F&F participant

“My wife and I have been on two tours with Dr. Grisanti’s F & F Trip. Our understanding of scripture has been significantly enhanced through a greater understanding of the geography and history of the land. Mike is a trusted teacher & servant, who leads a fast pace, fun, comprehensive tour with enough time to sufficiently relax in pleasant accommodations. Our safety was never a concern. We invited four 4 friends who joined our second trip and they too greatly enjoyed the experience. Enrich your life. Go to Israel.”

Scott & Karen Miller (2016 and 2019 F & F):

“The tour group leader and the group you travel with make all the difference for a tour to Israel. Most significantly Dr. Grisanti is a leader who displays a deep love for Christ which manifests itself in the daily devotions he led and his joy and patience during each busy day on the tour. He is a fabulous tour leader. The logistics of the tour were very well managed. The accommodations were very nice. He is a world class Old Testament scholar and teaches in a way that is accessible for everyone. One of the best surprises before the tour even started was receiving the Satellite Bible Atlas in the mail. This is an incredible resource. It makes the scriptural narrative in the OT and the NT come alive in a new way when you can relate it to the spatial aspect (geography) of history. The group on the tour was wonderful also since this tour tends to attract those with a commitment to the authority of scripture. Some on the tour were parents of Masters University students studying at the IBEX facility but the majority, like us, had no formal connection with Masters University. To be able to walk where Jesus walked and see the same geography he saw was profound. We can say that our study of scripture will be enriched for the rest of our lives by this trip.”

David and Celia Johnson (2018 F & F):

“The Family & Friends tour is an amazing way to see Israel! To be able to share the rich history and wonderful lessons with two dozen like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ was a blessing I had not expected. I made some lifelong friendships. The group was large enough to be beneficial and small enough to be able to meet everyone.

Dr. Grisanti’s understanding of biblical events combined with his knowledge of the land truly gave life to the events of both the Old and New Testaments. Being shown the topography of the land and the proximity of key places gave me an entirely new perspective on many biblical events! Additionally, beginning each day with a targeted devotion focused our minds on the fact that this was much more than a “tour” it was an opportunity to experience the Bible in a way most people never will. When I read my Bible, I often look at the map of Israel or the pictures I took and am reminded again how God used even geography to accomplish His great purposes!

I am thankful to have been able to experience Israel with Family & Friends, and Dr. Grisanti. I strongly encourage others to make the plans and sacrifices necessary to experience it themselves.”

John LeProhon (2018 F & F):

“While there are numerous tours of Israel available, the uniqueness of the Friend’s and Family trip is the acute focus on biblical history and geography. One will have the opportunity to tread ancient turf and view city gates from Abraham’s day. Dr. Grisanti is very skilled in pacing each day to include multiple sites while explaining the significance to various biblical passages. The tour and learning is thoroughly satisfying, but it will leave a desire to return and visit the land again!”

Sean Holland (2019 F & F):

“The Family & Friends trip to Israel was a life changing event for me. After almost 40 years of preaching in small churches in Montana and Washington, I finally received the gift of taking this trip to Israel and seeing the places I had been preaching about. This trip included the joy of being able to touch base with Dr. Mike and his girls after about 35 years. I attended 2 years of Bible School with Mike and knew his wife and family as close friends for years. Seeing the locations of many of the Biblical events and being able to connect a mind picture of what it must have been like to be there has radically improved my preaching and applying accurately the truths of God’s Word. Any serious Bible student needs to take this trip and receive the energy and enlightenment that comes from being there. The only thing I would change is to go when I was younger so that I could have the energy to walk easier and see more. Don’t wait, you will never regret living the Bible as you walk in the locations of God’s Word and get a taste of the culture of the promised land. Thank you, Dr. Mike, and all my fellow team members for including me in this wonderful life changing adventure.”

Rob Morris (2019 F & F):

Flight Itinerary

Date Departure location Destination location Flight # Dep time Arr time
March 12 Los Angeles(LAX) Toronto(YYZ) AC790 7:00am 2:39pm
March 12 Toronto(YYZ) Tel Aviv(TLV) AC080 4:50pm 10:15am
March 21 Tel Aviv(TLV) Toronto(YYZ) AC081 10:55am 5:00pm
March 21 Toronto(YYZ) Los Angeles(LAX) AC793 6:45pm 9:08pm

Be sure to direct any questions about flights to our travel agent, Craig Dunning- craig@discipleshiptravel.com

Cost & Payment

Airfare and land costs:

$3,895 per person (credit card and check payments) - Secure Payment Portal

Land Only*:

$2,295 per person (credit card and check payments) - Secure Payment Portal for credit card payments. Mail checks to the address for the IBEX office given below.

Put “2021 Family and Friends Israel trip” in the comments section.

Credit Card Convenience Fee - $250

Note: If any part of the trip costs by credit card, you will be asked to pay this credit card convenience fee. It will be added to what you owe for the final payment. This helps cover the additional work by office staff and the extra charge required by your credit card company.

*Refer to the trip application for more information about the land-only price.

The following is included in the price:

  • Airfare to/from LAX*

  • Accommodations in double occupancy rooms**

  • Transportation by private air-conditioned bus

  • Daily breakfasts and dinners throughout the trip

  • Entrance fees to tourist sites and museums

  • Applicable taxes

  • Tips for the bus driver, hotel staff, and Israeli tour guide

*Not included in land-only price.

**There is a $700 (credit card and check payments) additional fee for single room accommodations. The accommodations will be comparable to any good motel in America (3-4 star), with each double room having a private bath.

Dr. Grisanti will be leading the tour (teaching), but the law requires that an Israeli tour guide accompany the group. The trip employs an Israeli tour guide who will offer insight into modern Israeli history, as well as flora and fauna of the land of Israel.

The following is NOT included in the price:

  • Lunches throughout the trip

  • Travel insurance

  • Personal spending (i.e., for souvenirs and snacks)

Travel insurance is highly recommended. Click here for additional information. If booking online, please indicate agency number 458167 for proper tracking purposes.

Payment schedule:

November 15, 2020: $300 (credit card and check payments) deposit due (non-refundable)

January 15, 2021: $3,595 (air and land price) or $1,995 (land only price ) (credit card and check payments)

***Note: As stated above, If you pay any part of the trip costs by credit card, you will be asked to pay this credit card convenience fee ($250.00). This helps cover the additional work by office staff and the extra charge required by your credit card company. You need to include that convenience fee with your main payment, due no later than January 15, 2021.

**A late fee will be applied to what you owe if the payment arrives at the IBEX office after the above due dates.

If you make any payments between December 17 and January 4, keep in mind that our IBEX secretary (who handles the payments) will be at her home for her Christmas and New Year’s break.

So if you make any payments between those dates, please don’t expect any response saying that your payment was received until she gets back into the IBEX office and can catch up with payments that came in during the break.If you are wondering if your payment was received, feel free to email Jenna after January 4.

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Application Process Descriptions

Download Trip Application

1. Please complete the application form legibly. This will help insure that we have accurate information and don’t incorrectly read someone’s handwriting. When we submit your personal information (full name, passport number and expiration date) to the airline, the information we submit must EXACTLY MATCH what appears on your passport. Otherwise, you will face challenges when you check in at the US and Israeli airports and likely have to pay some surcharge.
Be sure to sign and initial the marked places and give the date you completed the form. You must answer whether you are purchasing travel insurance and provide your initials on page 13 of the registration form. You can scan the form and email it to ibexoffice@masters.edu or mail it to the IBEX Office (see below address).

2. Along with your registration, send a very clear and readable color scan of your passport face page (email a scan or mail the printed page).This helps Dr. Grisanti start to connect faces with names before the trip begins.It also is a kind of insurance.If anyone loses their passport (perish the thought!), the face page is a great starting point for getting that fixed ASAP in Israel.If you don’t have your passport when you submit your registration form, make sure to email or mail it to the IBEX office by January 10.

3. To pay by credit card, please use our secure payment portal. Put “2020 Family and Friends Trip” in the notes area.

4. To pay by check, please make the check payable to The Master’s University and mail or deliver to the IBEX Office.

Jenna Friesen IBEX Secretary—Box #16 The Master’s University 21726 Placerita Canyon Road Santa Clarita, CA 91321

5. In addition to important trip information, the trip application form Master’s University includes a health information section. By providing us your health insurance information and key aspects of your health, you enable us to work with medical professionals in Israel in the event that you had some health issue while in Israel. This information is not shared with anyone outside of Dr. Grisanti. It gives Dr. G. some basic information to have on hand in case a person has an accident and a doctor needs to understand the bigger health picture as well as insurance coverage information. I don’t know that I have every had to look at the trip applications during a trip. Regardless, it is important to be prepared (I am an old boy Scout—Eagle Scout). Please submit that completed application with your trip deposit by November 15 by email or mail.

The last pages of the trip application involve a section entitled “Informed consent, acknowledgement or risk, & assumption of liability.” It covers the expected legal concerns to protect TMU as the sponsor of a trip like this. Every Israel trip has something like this in the material they provide to their participants. Rest assured, we are not expecting something bad to happen. After the end of those points, there is a place for you to sign the document. You need to submit this trip application along with your trip deposit. After you have provided all the required information and signatures, you can scan the form and email it to ibexoffice@masters.edu or mail it to the IBEX Office (see address above).

6. For any questions regarding logistical and payment details, please contact Jenna Friesen in the IBEX Office, 661-259-2621 or ibexoffice@masters.edu.

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Will I need a passport and visa?

A current passport IS REQUIRED and must not expire until six months after our return date. If you don’t already have a valid passport or have one that will expire less than six months after our return date. Please apply immediately, as it may take several weeks to process.* Don’t delay in applying for your passport!! A visa, however, is not required.

Are there any vaccinations required for this trip?

No vaccinations are required.

What should I bring with me on the trip?

After the trip roster is settled, Dr. Grisanti will email a file that provides some guidance on what to bring and what to expect for weather.

I live outside of California. May I travel directly to Israel, or do I need to join the group at LAX?

You can contact our travel agent (his contact info found above and on the registration form) if you wish to make other arrangements. You are also free to use your own agent or book your own flight. It is possible to leave from other major airports and connect with the group in Toronto (YYZ). We generally discourage travel to Israel apart from the group due to potential scheduling conflicts. If you do travel on your own to Israel, the land-only cost of the trip is $2,295.00 per person (credit card and check payments).

However, we are not able to arrange ground transportation or hotels for alternative travel arrangements if your flight schedule does not match that of the Family and Friends group or your flight’s arrival in Tel Aviv is delayed for some reason. You will need to BE SURE you arrive before the group and depart after the group departs if you want to ride on the bus from or to the airport. You are also able to arrive a day(s) before or depart after the trip if preferred. If so, you can meet us at the Ben Gurion airport at the time of our arrival or arrange your own transportation to the Moshav where the IBEX campus is located. If needed, Dr. Grisanti will provide the address of the Moshav closer to the departure date. If you arrive before or depart after the Family and Friends trip, of course, you must cover the housing and transportation costs.

Itinerary details are provided on this website, so you can make accurate flight plans if you choose to make your own flight arrangements.

In light of the current conflicts in the Middle East, how safe is it to travel to Israel?

Rest assured that the IBEX Office does not want to put you in harm’s way. We won’t let the IBEX students go to Israel if we are convinced it is not safe, and we won’t pull the trigger on the Family and Friends trip (mid-January) if we have any significant concerns. We don’t go near Gaza during our trip, we don’t hang around border crossings, and we don’t match the profile that terrorists pursue (people in uniform).

In every part of the world, we cannot avoid random events over which we have absolutely no control. Nevertheless, Israel is an amazingly safe place to be. Dr. Grisanti has been to Israel 25 times and has never felt unsafe. Events like those that took place during the late spring and summer are not commonplace at all. In the end, we trust God’s providence and we are in continuous communication with people who know the status of travel in Israel.

Is there a way I can study and prepare for the teaching on this trip?

As the trip roster gets settled, Dr. Grisanti will send by email several study suggestions to the group participants directly. These resources will help those interested in laying some groundwork for what we hope to learn during our time together. Once the final payment deadline passes, Dr. Grisanti will mail to each person participating in the Family and Friends trip a copy of a great resource, the Satellite Bible Atlas. You will carry that around during the trip, esp. on the days we are travelling outside of Jerusalem. He will also provide links to other helpful resources.

Can I get baptized during the Family and Friends trip?

This question deserves more time than I (Dr. G) can give in this setting. The short answer is “No”. As the trip leader, this is my decision. On the one hand, having a full schedule and limited time on the day when it might have happened is a genuine factor. On the other hand, I firmly believe that the NT presents baptism as a local church ordinance, to be witnessed by the brethren who will hold that person accountable to pursuing the life proclaimed by their baptism. To be clear, I am not condemning other trip leaders (that include friends of mine) who perform baptisms during their trips. I must live by my biblical beliefs and conscience.

What happens if TMU decides to cancel the Family and Friends trip?

This has never happened yet, but if we decide to cancel the F&F trip before the full payment is due (Jan. 19), we will fully refund the deposit or whatever a person has paid. However, after the full payment is made and that money goes to the airline and the land vendors, the money is out of our hands. If things get so bad at that point that we make the painful decision to cancel the trip (which I don’t at all expect), we have no access to that money. That is where the travel insurance kicks in. That is why we are encouraging concerned people to buy the travel insurance–making sure they understand the parameters of the policy they choose.

There have been times that a spring snowstorm on the east coast has complicated flight connections. In March 2018, a few people arrived a day or two late because of being stuck somewhere in the US due to cancelled flights. In that situation, if a person decides to call off the trip for themselves because bad weather will delay their arrival by a couple of days, that is their choice. However, in that instance, keep in mind that TMU will have no money to refund (already sent to air and land vendors) and most travel insurances will not refund trip costs because choosing not to travel does not serve as one of the conditions for refunding trip expenses. That rarely happens, but we need to emphasize that point in light of our 2018 experience.

What happens if there is another outbreak of COVID and our trip is cancelled?

In March 2020, we made it to Israel just as people were talking about COVID and we were one of the last trips to depart the country before Israel shut down. The normal policy for airlines and travel insurance companies was not to refund travel that was cancelled by “an act of God”. Because of the widespread nature of the impact of COVID all airlines and most travel insurance companies issued refunds.

Every indication is that COVID will be less of a problem and vaccines will be available by March 2021. In the end, we do not know for sure what the near future holds. I am trusting for the best and planning accordingly. I cannot and am not promising that all funds will be refunded. We will have to take things as they come. However, if it becomes apparent that we need to refund the money paid to TMU (before we send money to our vendors) we will refund it. After that, it will depend on the decisions made by airlines and travel insurance companies.

We will look at the situation very carefully before the money is sent off to the air and land vendors. I am very, very hopeful/confident that we will be able to do this trip. My contacts in the travel world, esp. in Israel, have the same idea. Regardless, we will seek to be wise. If we cancel the trip before we send the money to the air and land vendors (after the main payment is due), we will refund that deposit and main payment. I would encourage you, if you are interested in travelling with me to Israel this month, sign up and make plans. Rest assured, I will draw on the wisdom of others when we approach the time to make a final decision.

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