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Auburn Basketball Team Gets Baptized in Jordan River, Taking Time to 'Walk Where Jesus Walked'


JERUSALEM - Members of the Auburn University basketball team embraced the literal paths taken by Jesus Christ while visiting the holy land recently, even taking the remarkable step of getting baptized in the Jordan River. 

The team "shared a special moment with each other" when they were baptized in the Jordan this week in Israel, the team tweeted.

The Auburn team was in Israel for a 10-day trip to play three exhibition games. 

But that left them plenty of time for touring in the Holy Land.

"We blazed a trail now. I think there's going to be other college teams who want to come over and have this competition and have this kind of historic, educational, religious, spiritual experience. It was nothing short of amazing," said Auburn Tigers' Coach Bruce Pearl in an interview with SECNetwork.

The Tigers are only the fourth college basketball team to play in Israel in a pre-season tour. 

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Pearl, who is Jewish, said the pilgrimage would have an enduring influence on the lives of his players.  

"My players are going to see their Judeo-Christian roots, and for those who want to get baptized in the river Jordan, they will," said Pearl, whose first trip to Israel was in 2009. 

"They'll walk in the garden where Jesus walked, and they'll pray at the Western Wall. And they'll experience firsthand God's presence in the Holy Land. Just come and see it, you'll be changed forever," he said.

Auburn center Dylan Cardwell wrote about the trip on his blog.

"First, we went to see the Mount of Olives, which had the most amazing view. From there, we walked down the mountain and visited the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane, which has been preserved since the days Jesus walked the Earth," Cardwell wrote.

"We even walked along the Via Dolorosa, which is the historic path Jesus walked before his crucifixion," he said.

"My personal favorite was visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was buried. It was an amazing sight to see," Cardwell said. "Walking through the Old City of Jerusalem was a huge blessing — just observing people's way of life and how they differ to our livelihood back home in the U.S. The next day, we traveled to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. It was another significant scene. Just to be able to stand where Jesus once stood was a crazy experience." 

The team also danced while on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.

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