More from David and Anna Landis
What’s your shared vision for the Jesus Trail in coming years?
David: It’s [the trail] come a long way, and we hope to see it continue to grow. Each year there seems to be a record number of tourists. We hope to keep supporting it when we can and let it grow on its own.
Anna: The trail is the main trail in a network of trails. We are hoping to build relationships and trial connections to further develop the Jesus Trail with other trails across borders, as politics allow. In terms of our staff, we’ve had a number of EMU grads and students intern with us, sometimes for up to three months to a year to help out with the trail. EMU grads are particularly important to the future of the trail. EMU grads get what’s going on, have excellent cross-cultural skills and understanding of relationships that other people might not possess.
How has your work with the Jesus Trail physically and spiritually impacted your life?
David: It is gratifying to create something powerful that moves people. It is even more exciting to see it continue on its own without direct ongoing involvement. This shows that the local communities have really caught the vision and are pushing it forward. We recently heard feedback (via a third party) from the head of the Israeli trail-marking committee (SPNI) that the Jesus Trail was his favorite trail work on from all of Israel’s 6,000 miles of marked hiking trails, for the reason that the Jesus Trail vision was really adopted by the communities along the path, pulling them together for collaboration. Statements like this is what gives us motivation to continue moving forward, connecting paths across boundaries and looking to a future of shared hospitality in the region.
David: We spent the last year working on the [Jesus Trail] guidebook. That has been a major step for us and it seems to be doing fairly well. We are finishing up another book on Santiago, Spain, in addition to working on three other guide books connected to the trail. We also started tour services in 2010 to support hikers in a variety of ways. Getting people on trail is our primary goal, and we felt more people wanted an organized tour. So far, we’ve put almost 1,000 people on trail since the guidebook became available. These guided tours also include moving people’s luggage, setting up host stays and just raising general visibility for the trail. There has been an influx of German and Dutch visitors to the trail, probably the second highest demographic behind North Americans. We hope to keep raising awareness of the trail and its importance.