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Earlier this year Aaron Graham, Mike Li and myself rolled the dice on going to Israel and the Palestinian Territories to learn more about the ongoing conflict, opportunities for peace, and to walk the ground where Jesus lived out his ministry while here on Earth.
It was to be part geo-political education, with a series of meetings arranged with stakeholders in the conflict, and part pilgrimage, serving as a spiritual retreat amidst the geographical and historical surroundings of our faith.
I was skeptical of such a trip, usually preferring the price tag and sense of adventure that comes with just grabbing a backpack and winging it. But we experienced a program that I could never have put together independently and executed over just seven days.
On our first day we visited the Galilee and sat on the hillside where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. We then met with an Orthodox Priest who took Jesus’ ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ call to heart by refusing to seek vengeance against those who bombed his home, instead building a school where Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children could all grow up with a hopeful future. We visited the homes of Mary and Peter, the synagogue where Jesus declared his ministry (Luke 4:18), and over dinner interviewed Palestinian Christian theologians on theology, history, and whatever else we fancied. And that was just day one. For six more days we were immersed in the history of a conflict that has riddled this land for generations, all through the narratives of those who have lived it: Jewish immigrants, Muslim clerics, Christian farmers and theologians, political and military leaders, business entrepreneurs, and victims from all sides who are playing their part in reducing the spread of hate and violence. All the while confronting our faith, its very real history in this land, and Christ’s call on all of us to be peacemakers in our own conflicts back at home. For they will be called children of God.
Many of you attended our presentation at the office where we debriefed the trip, and given how well that was attended, I have been working with The Telos Group (the non-profit organizers) to put together a similar trip for our church. I’ve worked with them on bringing the price down a lot, so we’re currently looking at a trip in May that would cost approximately $3000 per person for everything (flights, hotels, all meals, transportation in-country), with slight variations depending on flight costs at time of booking and the number of people interested. It is expensive but the experience and educational opportunities are unparalleled.
If you are interested in going in May, can you please email just me at: .
I will then follow up with those who have expressed an interest in this to confirm the May dates and final pricing once dates and numbers are finalized. I would invite you all to check out the Telos website (and this recent WashPo article) to learn more about what they do, and of course feel free to email me with more questions. (Side note: safety is an obvious priority and to my knowledge Telos has not had an incident on one of its trips, but there is always an inherit risk when travelling to this part of the world, though I would argue no more so than living in a metropolitan area like DC).
I can’t recommend this opportunity enough to anyone who is interested in educating themselves on this conflict in particular, and peacemaking in general, or is looking to explore the historical evidence for their faith.