CBU group participates in inspiring and educational trip to Israel
Riverside, Calif. (Jan. 15, 2020) – For Janelle Smith, a student at California Baptist University, going to Israel was on her a bucket list. She longed to see historical biblical sites that could help her grow in her understanding of the Bible and ultimately her faith. The sophomore, who is a double major in Christian studies and Christian behavioral science, was able to scratch this off her bucket list as she took a trip with a group from CBU over the Christmas break.
“One of my favorite things was visiting a Jewish home for Shabbat dinner. They were the kindest people and as a group, we discussed theology, politics and Jewish culture. It was so eye-opening,” Smith said.
Smith’s journey to Israel was coordinated by Passages, an organization aimed at providing Christian college students an opportunity to encounter the roots of Biblical faith and to see life in modern-day Israel. The CBU group, consisting of 20 students and three faculty members, visited Israel from Dec. 29–Jan. 8 to examine biblical sites and to become more aware of the geopolitical factors of the area.
“I will never read the Bible the same way again,” said Dr. Nicole MacDonald, professor of kinesiology. “We all have pictures in our minds about the events in the Bible, but now having seen the places and gaining perspective of the time period, reading about these places will take on new meaning.”
The team visited biblical sites such as Nazareth, Bethlehem and the Mount of Olives. They toured the Garden of Gethsemane and partook communion at the Garden Tomb. The group also visited Tel-Aviv, the Western Wall and Yad Vashem, a Holocaust museum. Additionally, they heard from an array of speakers, including Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders in addition to college-age Israelis, who were serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
Emily Key, a creative writing senior, said she was naive about the conflict in Israel prior to the trip.
“Through the speakers and the political sites we visited, I glimpsed the reality of the pain in the land of Israel,” Key said. “One thing that I will never forget was when one of our speakers was talking about the people on the other side of the conflict. He said, ‘Our hands feel the same.’ They are all people and they are each loved by God.”