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Florida Church Group Returns Home From Israel; ‘We’ve Been Through a Lot,’ Says Pastor Zach Terry

Pastor Zach Terry
Screengrab via YouTube / @zachterry

Zach Terry, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Fernandina Beach, Florida, led a group of 25 people to tour Israel. While the church has taken many trips to Israel, this one was met with the unexpected terrorist attack from Hamas. As a result, the group, along with many other visitors, were unable to fly home to the United States as planned.

While the trip members remained safe, the nearby attacks, delays, and changes of plans were unsettling. “God used it all, and we’re very thankful,” Terry told News4Jax. “It’s good to be home.”

Church Group Led by Pastor Zach Terry Returns Home After Being Stuck in Israel Amid Attacks

According to News4Jax, the group of 25 people (as part of a larger group of 54) returned home to Florida via separate planes between Friday and Sunday night.

“This salty piece of First Coast land is amazing, and we value it so much from everything that we’ve been through this week, just wondering how it would turn out sometimes,” Terry said. “We’ve been through a lot.”

Terry recounted many of the events. “What happened moved so fast there at the Gaza border. And then when we were in Jerusalem, we would hear the gunfire,” he said.

The group was near the Lebanon border when attackers came into Israel, and they fled toward Jerusalem. Last week, Terry shared with The Morning Show (of News4Jax) that they saw the Iron Dome and heard machine gun fire within blocks of the hotel. “All in all, we’ve stayed safe,” he said.

The group was able to move into Jordan in an effort to secure flights back to the United States. “We’re in safe territory as we speak,” Terry said at the time. “We’ll feel better when we’re back on American soil.”

Throughout the process of rerouting the group, Terry explained that they were safe and that many other groups were attempting to reach Jordan. “That was cool to see all the cultures work together,” he said. “We couldn’t speak each other’s language, but we’re trying to be kind to each other and help each other get to safety.”

Terry posted a video while he was walking through the Jacksonville airport, near his home. “Hey, guys. We’re back home in Jacksonville. All of our group is back in the States, now. And, one by one, they’re making it back home,” he said. “I want to thank you all for praying…all the messages you’ve sent—it all means the world to us. The Lord used it, and we’re back in safe territory. Thank you so much.”

Group members embraced family and friends as they arrived home. Terry’s daughter turned 22 while he was stuck in the Middle East. The family had planned a birthday celebration but ended up postponing the gathering until Terry returned safely.

With nearly 15,000 views, the video has reached friends, family, and those praying around the world. One person commented, “Happy to hear this news! An answer to so many prayers!” Another shared, “Praise the Lord! We’ve been praying for you guys! Glory to God!”