My name is Mary Clare, and I’m the new Magdala volunteer!
I first visited Magdala in 2017 with a group from my university. I remember being awestruck, thinking, “My Lord Jesus likely stood here?”
I’ve always connected deeply with Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee, where Jesus used familiar subjects of nature and basic livelihood for his parables. Standing sweaty around the archeological site, I remember pushing past the mind-numbing heat to receive the tour guide’s words. I imagined Jesus’s kind gaze resting on someone across the synagogue. I could hear his voice reading the Torah that lay across the Magdala stone, speaking life into the people here. On the shore, my heart worshipped our Creator as I drank in the deep blues cradled by hazy red land. I imagined Jesus slipping away from the crowds to the water, being embraced by the same beauty. Encountering Magdala made my Savior more human. My scripture readings were transformed. For years following, gospels were painted with new colors and fierce clarity.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to return to the Holy Land for a 6 week program, studying Biblical Archeology, modern geopolitics, and the complexities of people groups in this land. My prayers were filled with questions about where I would follow Him after my program, asking God about my new desire to spend some more time in the Holy Land.
My friends and I used a free-day to come to the Galilee region from Jerusalem, and visited Magdala. We were greeted with warm smiles from Father Solana and Paola, who were delighted to welcome us. Paola’s concluding words, “Apply to volunteer!” caught my attention. After touring the synagogue and mikvaot, we were greeted by Father Kelly in Duc in Altum who repeated the words “Apply to volunteer!” I was previously unaware that Magdala had a volunteer program, but this nudge was all I needed. Following the peace of the Lord, I applied and began a correspondence with Paola.
Miraculously, my existing visa was valid for several months. I changed my flight date. I called family and friends to let them know I would be staying a little bit more in the middle east. The peace of the Lord was present in this time. I did not know much about what my work would be, but I knew I agreed with what Magdala is: providing an encounter for people of all walks of life and faith. Against all odds, God made a way for me to be here. Now, I am serving the Magdala family and walking where Jesus walked!