Future Christian leaders brave the war to tour the holy land

Future Christian leaders brave the war to tour the holy land

On Monday, Israel365 wrapped up its nine-day Keep God’s Land Young Leader Fellowship tour of Israel.  While this was the second tour training young Christian Zionist leaders, the mission was clear, coming in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre. Despite the ongoing war, 12 participants, chosen for their extraordinary commitment to Israel, came to Israel to understand the truth about the current conflict and train in Israel advocacy.

“Israel is strong, but it needs our help today,” the website explains. “If the faith community remains silent, Jews will no longer be safe in our homeland, or anywhere else. The Keep God’s Land Young Leader Fellowship is an unprecedented unified response from Christians and Jews who believe that victory will only be achieved when we recognize the Bible is our shield of protection.”

The itinerary included lectures on Israel advocacy, antisemitism, Bible study, a Shabbat experience in Judea with Israeli host families, security briefings from IDF leadership, political analysis from Knesset members, and meetings with families and survivors of Oct. 7. The tour also included hands-on experiences, including visiting soldiers in rehabilitation facilities and helping cook a barbecue for IDF soldiers. The tour visited communities in the south that still showed signs of attacks. 

Keep God’s Land March 2024 Israel365 Israel trip with Rabbi Leo Dee

Participants visited Biblical sites like Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, Jerusalem, the Western Wall and Temple Mount, and the Garden Tomb. Their goal was to trace the people of Israel’s connection to the holy land, from biblical times through today. 

A highlight was ancient Shiloh, which was home to the Tabernacle for 369 years when the Israelites first entered the land. There, they were treated to a visit with the five red heifers brought to Israel from Texas in preparation to reinstate the Biblical commandment described in the Book of Numbers.

Brittany Salssbury from the Voice of Healing Church in Houston, Texas, decided to join the leadership tour after attending the National Religious Broadcasters national convention in February. She was impressed at the Jewish presence at what was largely a gathering of evangelical communicators. Israel365 spearheaded this effort and it was there that she met Rabbi Tuly Weisz. 

“One month later, here I am in Israel…for the first time,” Brittany said. It was everything I expected and so much more. It’s overwhelming. It is like everybody says about the Bible coming to life. There are no words to describe what we are being offered here in Israel.”

Keep God’s Land March 2024 Israel365 Israel trip

For Halle Motley, a college student and young professional from Fort Collins, Colorado, the Israel365 Leadership Tour was her second visit to the Holy Land. This visit was decidedly different.

“A lot of the tourist businesses were shut down,” she noted, adding that this only increased her desire to visit. “I want to support Israel and the Jewish people, and now, more than ever, they need it.”

Israelis are nicknamed Sabras after the thorny desert cactus native to the region. But Halle found that while they lived up to their reputation, like the desert fruit, Israelis are sweet on the inside. 

“I think the Jewish people are the most loving, welcoming people I have ever met in my whole life,” she gushed.

Halle cited the unfairly negative perception of Israel as one of the motivations for coming to improve her skills in Israel advocacy.

“I want to help anyone who’s experiencing injustice, and I think the world is treating Israel very unjustly,” she said, adding that her Christian faith was an added factor. “From a Christian standpoint, how can I not help the Jewish people? They’re God’s chosen people! How can I not want to help and support in any way I can?”

Keep Gods Land March 2024 Israel365 Israel trip at the site of the nova Festival Massacare

Halle described herself as being “raised in agriculture,” and experiencing the prophetic blooming of the desert was a powerful aspect of her trip. The highlight was her visit with the Red Heifers.

Lenny King from the Voice of Healing Church in Houston, Texas, was also experiencing Israel for the first time.

“It’s been amazing,” he said enthusiastically. “I think the tour, with its leadership and advocacy agenda, is not your typical tour. It’s been a boots-on-the-ground venture, going to the communities where people are affected, sitting and talking to them about their experiences. It’s been so rewarding, but I am stunned at the amount of misinformation that’s being distributed in the United States about Israel.”

Lenny, a devout Christian, was shocked at how his experience in the Holy Land affected his personal Bible study.

“When you read the Bible, you read the stories, you picture it in your head. But you don’t really get the picture of what it really looks like until you come and see it. And then it gives you a whole new perspective.”

“In Christian theology, there’s this idea of the natural and the spiritual significance of the Bible and how it’s not just something that happened thousands of years ago. We know what’s talked about in the Bible but we can also see that it’s relevant for us today. It’s living and active and it’s still happening today.”

Karina Sousa is from northeast Brazil but has been serving as a missionary for Iris Global Ministries in Mozambique for three years. This is Karina’s third trip to Israel. 

Keep God’s Land March 2024 Israel365 Israel trip at the Israel365 offices

“I love it here,” she said. “Because I love the Bible. Israel brings the Bible to life. Christians and Jews both have our roots in this land. Being here helps me understand the Bible better.”

“This is the land that God created for the Jewish people, and they are supposed to be a light to the world. The light of the Jewish people begins here and goes out to everyone. When you’ve got something special you want to share with others.”

She also sees Israel and Mozambique coping with a similar threat.

“Mozambique is threatened by ISIS and Israel is threatened by Hamas,” she said. 

Israel365 is planning another Keep God’s Land tour in June. Details will be released in the near future.

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