By Kia Croom
Two members of the Southside Church of Christ in Richmond, Tami Wilson and Monica Williams, traveled to Israel and Egypt for a two-week pilgrimage that included guided tours of Jerusalem, Galileo, Judea and Cairo. They learned of the opportunity two years ago, when they heard about a Church of Christ minister in Texas who coordinates bi-annual trips to the Holy Land. It was an opportunity they could not afford to pass up. “I thought, oh I have to go! And I began to save up money,” said Williams. “It was a once in a lifetime trip,” Wilson said. “Traveling to places where Jesus actually lived, I found myself thinking about the Biblical accounts. I imagined the children of Israel walking through that Judean desert and thought oh my goodness! Imagine being in this desert for 40 years.” Wilson has been a member of her church for 14 years. She works with the youth ministry and teaches fourth and fifth grade Sunday school classes. A native of San Francisco, she currently lives in Oakland. Williams has been a member of Southside for the past 20 years. She supports the church’s library ministry and new converts committee. A Richmond native, she is active in the Cortez Stege Neighborhood Council, where she serves as the secretary treasurer. Wilson remembers one of the many highlights of the trip that deeply impressed her. “We visited the tomb where Jesus was buried and rose again,” she said. “The site was carved out of a mountain— it was a small space about the size of a walk- in closet. Only about four people at a time could go inside. We began to sing the song Because He Lives. “In our parting, a group of Japanese tourists approached the site and began to sing the same song, but in Japanese. And although we couldn’t speak their language, we could tell from the melody what they were singing. It was so moving,” she said.