Acts 9

Stronghold on the road to Damascus


This stronghold, resting on the flanks of Mt Hermon, protected the road to Damascus. It is known popularly as Nimrod’s Fortress or Qal'at al-Subeiba (“Cliff castle”). The site was hastily erected in the 1220s to prevent the European Crusaders from a return to the region.

The fears were unfounded. The Crusaders did not return and despite the adaption of the latest technologies in this medieval slugfest between East and West, the fortress was never used as a point of active defense.

I set our students free to explore the site on their own. Naturally the adventurous ones headed straight for the keep, the inner stronghold on the highest point of the ridge pictured here.

We know that Saul of Tarsus was converted along the famous “road to Damascus,” but it is unknown where the event described in Acts 9 (see here) took place.


The residency program of Johnson University leads to a Master of Strategic Ministry degree. It involves a collaborative relationship between Johnson University and local churches. This accredited program equips students for effective, strategic Christian leadership and includes a study-tour to Israel/Palestine.

To learn more about residencies, see the link here.

Acts by the sea

A Franciscan church dedicated to St Peter overlooks the Mediterranean Sea in Jaffa (Yafo), Israel. Its stepped bell tower rises from the shoulder of a tell (ruin-mound) evincing maritime life on the spot going back to the eighth-millennium BC.

The church is, by such standards, brand new. The footprint dates to the time of the crusader King Louis IX (13th century), while the structure seen today was largely constructed in the late 19th century. Curiously, the old citadel of St. Louis served as a temporary home for Napoleon during his Eastern Campaign with the the Armée d'Orient in 1799. The fingerprints of empire are everywhere!

Jaffa's association with St Peter is drawn from two stories found in the book of Acts. In the first (read it here) Peter raises a disciple of Jesus to life. In the second, Peter has a dream that eventually leads him up the coast to Caesarea Maritima (read it here).