Bethel University & Seminary
St. Paul, Minn.
- Length: 3 weeks
- Date: winter
- Cost: $4,000
- Credits: 4
“I will be reading the Bible in a new and exciting light for the rest of my life. I am truly thankful for my experience studying abroad in Israel,” says Bethel University student Anna Hachfeld, a senior in biology who took part in the school’s Israel program in Jerusalem.
The program at Bethel University (not to be confused with Bethel College) is based at Jerusalem University College and includes classroom coursework—but also plenty of outdoor learning. Students take several day and overnight trips to explore local geography and historical sites and their importance. Program director Gary Long, a professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Bethel, says students learn mapping, geology, the historical diversity of each location and topography. They are even given a broad-based exposure of Israel from the age of the Hebrew Bible to the Byzantine period.
Hachfeld’s favorite recollection is studying one day in Jerusalem where the temple would have been, while enjoying the breathtaking view of Kidron Valley. Her professor was teaching about Matthew 23:27, in which Jesus tells the Pharisees they are like whitewashed tombs that are beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with “dead men’s bones.” She learned that while the Pharisees were hearing Jesus teach this from the temple steps they would have been looking straight at the tombs in the hillside above the valley. “How poignant that must have been for the Pharisees,” she says.
Hachfeld, who wants to go into nursing, believes that what she learned while in Israel will help her in whatever God has her do. “Spending time in the Holy Land impacted my understanding of Scripture much more than I ever expected,” she says. “It was a time of understanding more deeply who Jesus was and who He ministered to.”
- Length: 18 days
- Date: summer
- Cost: $3,400
- Credits: 3
Wave Nunnally, Ph.D., moved to Israel in 1982 to earn his master’s in Hebrew at Jerusalem University College (JUC). Almost every other year since, he’s gone back, usually as a teacher leading groups ranging from 25 to 82 students. That he views the visits as study trips and not tourist tours, there’s no question.
“There is a gigantic gulf between sightseeing versus developing solid tools of contextualizing Scripture so that we become better readers and proclaimers of the truth of God’s Word,” Nunnally asserts. “We give students an ‘understanding experience’ in every area of Israel, not just where tours go.”
For example, Evangel’s students get to spend a considerable amount of time in the West Bank, one of the main Palestinian areas of Israel. Included in their trip are such places as Hebron, Shiloh, Shechem, Jericho, Jacob’s Well and the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim. The Evangel program is in good standing with the Palestinian community, Nunnally stresses, and he says a primary aim of the study program is to offer students the entirety of Israel, not just select bits and pieces.
Evangel uses a team-teaching approach in which more than one teacher is available at all times during the trip to offer a constant hands-on availability of expertise. The trip encompasses Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and is scheduled on even years only, so 2010 is in the rotation. The per-person cost includes everything—airfare, meals, lodging, bus fare, and fees for national parks and museums—and the opportunity is a great one, Nunnally says.
- Length: 1 semester
- Date: spring
- Cost: $15,200
- Credits: 15
The Jerusalem Studies program of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., enables students to study biblical history, archaeology, the life of Christ and current events in a modern facility in the heart of west Jerusalem. The Assemblies of God recently opened the luxurious George O. Wood center, which houses approximately 45 students and is located only 10-minutes’ walking time from the Old City.
The semester-long program includes five weeks of field study in Israel as well as online coursework before and after their stay in the Holy Land. The cost is about $3,000 more than attending Southeastern for a semester.
Program Coordinator Margaret English DeAlminana strongly encourages students studying religion to sign up. Those who cannot, she says, may still participate in the program every week from Lakeland, when the students abroad call in via the Internet phone program Skype to talk about what they are learning.
For Holly Hungerford, a Southeastern senior who took the trip last year and works in the Jerusalem Studies office on campus, the experience furthered her long-term goal to go abroad to help develop children’s ministries in churches. One of her favorite segments of the program was service outreach. She and her group befriended local Arabs by picking up trash in their community and making clothing that was available to them for a donation.
Her trip to Israel also was “the most spiritually intimate time I’ve ever shared with God,” she says. While visiting the Jordan River, Holly was baptized for the fist time. “There’s just something about being in the land where our Savior was born that just pulls at your heart strings,” she says.
T.J. Harrington holds a master’s degree in political science, with a concentration in religion and politics. He lives in Florida and is a consultant for political candidates and on policy-change initiatives.
Check out similar programs offered by other Christian schools; go to homeland.charismamag.com
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