A Broadened Worldview: Israel
As Bethel’s largest international trip to date, 48 people – including students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and friends of the college – traveled to Israel to learn about the Bible in the places Scripture happened. Each day of the 12-day journey involved bus rides, hikes and lessons at key Biblical locations, including the Dead Sea, Jordan River, Sea of Galilee, Mount of Beatitudes, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Mount of Olives and Gethsemane, just to name a few. Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek and the recently named Missionary Church Endowed Professor of Biblical Theology, David McCabe, Ph.D., co-led the trip alongside Ronen Ben Moshe, who has been leading Israel tours since 1994. Adjunct Professor Cami Brubaker ’06 also led some of the teachings.
Of the nearly 24 students who went on the trip, about half took it for credit in courses including Old Testament Literature, New Testament Literature, Travels in Biblical Lands and Old Testament Prophets. McCabe says that studying scripture in its actual location provides unique insight that isn’t accessible through books or classroom study.
“There are times that the land of Israel is called the fifth gospel because these places are so linked to the Gospel … seeing [them] gives a perspective that is otherwise unavailable,” he says.
Sophomore Biblical studies and intercultural studies major Alayna Wort studied New Testament Literature as part of the trip, and gained new understanding at the Mount of Beatitudes.
“It wasn’t the most beautiful or biggest of mountains, but it was where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount,” she explains. “All 48 of us went up and read a section. We were just standing there and nobody could speak. God was here. Jesus was here. It was an awe-inspiring moment.”
The group also traveled to Katzrin, to a town of Biblical lands and dress, where they experienced a working olive press, reconstructed house, synagogue and bread oven. They visited the Western Wall and Temple Mount, and climbed through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. They saw literal streams in the desert and small patches of grass, bringing Psalm 23 to life.
And beyond helping them study and understand scripture in a new way, the trip deepened their faith. Five people were baptized where the Jordan River meets the Sea of Galilee – three of them Bethel students.
“A group of us became very close. We ended up giving testimonies to each other,” Wort says. “It’s been very interesting how God used this trip and these people to encourage my faith.”
For students, this fully immersive study trip made the Bible come alive, deepened their faith and helped them understand scripture in a way they never understood it before.