Lipscomb students returned home from a 10-day trip to Israel on June 3 with a better understanding of ancient Israel and the modern geopolitical issues in the country.
The trip partnered with Passages Israel to show the religious, social and political issues to students while exploring the roots of their faith.
The team traveled across Israel, spending time in historical places like Jerusalem, Nazareth, Galilee and Caesarea. Team members saw the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. Some students also chose to get baptized in the Jordan River.
Lipscomb graduate student Megan Deel is working on her Masters in Divinity and shared how visiting the Biblically-historic sights was the highlight of her trip.
“The whole experience in Jerusalem was my favorite,” Deel said. “Especially because that is where Jesus died and rose; it was just such a special place to walk.”
Senior Theology and Ministry major Joshua Stewart said the trip was more than just an educational experience.
“This was also a spiritual journey,” Stewart said. “I read about the people, places and events of the Bible so much differently because I saw it with my own eyes. I have a much clearer image of Jesus standing in the synagogues, teaching and healing people He never met but knew and loved anyway. The Gospel has been given new life.”
The students also visited the Gaza Strip and the Syrian border to better understand living in a war zone. Talking with people on the Gaza Strip, visiting bomb shelters and learning rocket alarm safety protocols are just a few of the ways the group learned about the conflict.
Trip leader and Youth Ministry Professor Dr. Surdacki felt the trip allowed students to see and hear from people on both sides of the conflict. After learning about the issues first-hand he said his views shifted from confusion to compassion.
“I came back with a much clearer understanding of what’s going on,” Dr. Surdacki said. “Now when we hear these stories on the news about Hamas, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have a better understanding of why there isn’t peace in that region.
“It’s a vital trip for most Christian students, because there is only so many slides I can show you in a classroom,” Dr. Surdacki said. “It’s important for our students to realize the United States and we as Christians are called to be peacemakers.”
Though the trip educated students on the conflict, it also showed how difficult the situation is in the Middle East.
“It’s not a black and white issue,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t always make sense to support one side or the other. It makes sense to support life, to support people, even though people fail. People are broken and hurting on all sides.
Deel added that the trip caused her to want to speak out for Israel and bring home an understanding about the struggles and experiences of the Palestinian people.
“Instead of being just pro-Israel or just pro-Palestinian, I am pro-Israel and pro-Palestine,” Deel said. “Even more, I am pro-human. And that does not discriminate or take sides except for the side of love.”
Photos courtesy of Surdacki