On April 21 – May 2, a group from Christ Church journeyed to Israel/Palestine to visit international missions partners at Bethlehem Bible College. There they gained the sort of education the Holy Land offers through both its geography and religious and political history. 

Elizabeth Sander, a member of Christ Church for the past eight years, shares what she gathered by walking where Jesus walked–in a land plagued by religious/political conflict much as it was in the first century.

When I told people I was going to Israel/ Palestine on a mission trip, the most common reaction was “Oh…. That’s interesting…” followed by a concerned look. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I would experience when I went.

Robbie Averwater, Elizabeth Sander, Eric Angel, Kevin Roehl, Tom Fuerst, Rev. Emily Matheny, Ken Dunvant, Lisa Dunavant

Robbie Averwater, Elizabeth Sander, Eric Angel, Kevin Roehl, Tom Fuerst, Rev. Emily Matheny, Ken Dunavant, Lisa Dunavant

Now, however, I would recommend this trip to anybody. Regardless of your feelings about the political situation, you can’t help but reevaluate how you view the area. The landscape and history are absolutely beautiful! But talking to the people put the beauty into a perspective that cannot easily be dismissed.

My biggest take away is probably not what you would expect: for how complicated we think the situation is, it is ten times more complicated.

That realization sounds bleak, and I’m still grappling with it. There is no easy, straight forward solution. There is no one, evil entity that caused all the conflict and if defeated, will immediately cause peace. When and if resolution comes, there will be no winner. Nobody will be completely happy in the end.

Robbie Averwater, Lisa Dunavant, Tom Fuerst, Elizabeth Sander, John Webb, Misha Webb, Ken Dunavant, Rev. Emily Matheny, Kevin Roehl

Robbie Averwater, Lisa Dunavant, Tom Fuerst, Elizabeth Sander, John Webb, Misha Webb, Ken Dunavant, Rev. Emily Matheny, Kevin Roehl

And the Christians who live there are caught in the middle. They are less than 2% of the population and spread out over the entire area. But, everyday life must go on for the people and they are just trying to make the best of a bad situation. They are very passionate and want their voice to be heard.

So how can I still recommend this trip? Because going there and experiencing the sites where Jesus walked, and talking to the people who live there and hearing their stories is the only way to even start understanding the situation.

Pray for the people who live there.

Know that for every story heard on the news, there are fifteen different sides and perspectives, and the actual events may be different from those reported.

The situation is complicated, but not hopeless.

The people are the hope.

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