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Israel Birthright Experience Adapted for Christians

May 13, 2015


Tourists in Israel’s Negev Desert enjoy the view along the Ramon Crater at sunrise.​  (Go Israel photo by Dafna Tal)

“I will make an everlasting covenant with them:  I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear Me, so that they will never turn away from Me.”  (Jeremiah 32:40)

Christian student leaders from universities and colleges in the United States are being offered the opportunity to visit Israel for 11 days where they will strengthen their faith through a Taglit-Birthright type program called Covenant Journey. 

The program, which has the full support of the Israeli government, was unveiled on Friday during the Annual Christian Solidarity Event at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

It is designed to strengthen the faith of Christians and their understanding of the Bible, as well as inspire them to be goodwill ambassadors for Israel and the Jewish people.  (Covenant Journey)

Donations from the Museum of the Bible and the Philos Project will keep the cost to $500 per student.

“There’s one thing better than standing with Israel, and that’s standing in Israel.  It is critical to bring the next generation of leaders in the Christian Community to Israel,” Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said.  “If they walk in the places where the patriarchs and the prophets and the kings and that young Rabbi from the Galilee walked, then they will stand with Israel here and they will strengthen their Christian identity.”  (Arutz Sheva)

Empty tomb-Garden Tomb-Jerusalem-Christians

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

On the itinerary are stops at the Sea of Galilee, Mount of Olives, Garden Tomb, Western Wall, City of David, MasadaDead Sea, and the Jordan River for baptism, among many others.  As well, they will visit a military base and interact with social, business, technology, and political segments of Israel.  (Liberty Counsel Action)

“As young adults experience Israel firsthand, their faith is strengthened, their knowledge of the Bible is increased and their understanding of the connection between the Bible and the Land of Israel is put on solid ground,” said Steve Green, chairman of the board for the Museum of the Bible.

“The students will discover ancient Israel and modern Israel at the same time,” said Paul Singer, Jewish philanthropist and activist, who was one of two keynote speakers at the event.  “And for me, as Jew, that’s huge.  At this point Covenant Journey has become part of my journey, and I’m proud to say that I support everything that it stands for.  I truly believe that Jews, Christians, and all of Western civilization will be reaping the fruit of this project for years to come.”  (YNet)

The program is modeled on the Taglit-Birthright program that has already brought over 500,000 young Jewish Americans to visit Israel. 

Hundreds are expected to participate this summer with more next winter break. Thousands are expected to visit Israel in the years to come.  Students are being selected for their on-campus leadership roles and their desire to represent and support Israel and to strengthen their Christian faith.  (JP)

Sea of Galilee-tourism-boat-Christians

Tourists sail on the Sea of Galilee in Israel.  (Go Israel photo by Itamar Grinberg)

Although support for Israel may have softened among Millennial evangelicals, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that support among evangelicals in the US has remained strong.  According to the poll, when asked, “In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, who do you sympathize with more?” evangelicals were far more likely to say Israel—72 percent to 4 percent in 2013.  (Washington Post)

Recognizing the opportunity and the need to match support for Israel with evangelical faith, Steve Green adopted the cause, which also fits into the mission of his Museum of the Bible project—”to invite all people to engage with the Bible.”

Green is the president of the $3 billion family-owned Hobby Lobby chain, which donates 50% of its pretax earnings to evangelical causes.  He is also the chief idea architect and salesman for the largest Museum of the Bible in the world, which is scheduled to open in Washington DC in 2017.

“If you have anything or if I have anything, it’s because it’s been given to us by our Creator,” says Green’s father, Dave Green, the founder of the largest arts and crafts chain in the world and #79 on Forbes list of America’s 400 richest people.  

“So I have learned to say, ‘Look, this is yours, God.  It’s all yours.  I’m going to give it to you.’”  (Forbes)

The other Covenant Journey sponsor, the Philos Project, is a group based in New York City.  Its website states that it “seeks to promote positive Christian engagement in the Middle East.” 

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7)

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