Will Evangelicals support Israel in the future?
The amount of money that has been spent in sending young people on a free or highly subsidized trip to Israel is staggering.
The Jewish community has a program called Birthright which began in 1999 and has sent over 600,000 young Jews to Israel. In the Christian community this program has been modeled in a program called Passages where young Christians can visit Israel on a highly subsidized trip.
Why is it so important that young people come to Israel?
The unfortunate reality based on statistical polling and anecdotal evidence is that support for Israel amongst young Evangelical Christians and amongst young Jews is waning. The consistent bias and negative portrayal in the media and on the college campuses, has taken its toll on Israel’s image. Israel’s enemies have invested endless money in distorting the truth.
So, to respond to Israel’s enemies, we invest in bringing both young Jews and Christians to Israel to counter the false narrative that Israel is an apartheid state, that Israel is oppressing Palestinians, that Israel is not a free, democratic country and all the other lies cooked up by our enemies and the BDS movement.
Hearing cannot be compared to seeing
There is another more personal reason to visit Israel.
If you want to go somewhere where you can vacation and experience amazing food perhaps you will go on a trip to Italy. If you want to go on a trip because your passion is fashion perhaps you will go and visit Paris. If you want incredible outdoor experiences there are plenty of destinations—how about New Zealand or Australia. But why come to Israel?
You don’t visit Israel for the great food, though the food is good and you don’t come here for the great fashion though the fashion is…well maybe not! You don’t visit because of the outdoor activities though we have plenty of that.
So why do you come? You come to find a big piece of yourself. You come to discover your faith and deepen your connection.
For a Jew, how can you visit the Western Wall, the closest we can get to the Holy of Holies and not be moved? How can you visit Hebron, the resting place of the patriarchs and matriarchs of our faith and not relate to Judaism in a deeper way?
For a Christian, how can you stand atop the Mt of Olives or take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and still be the same Christian? Is it possible to experience the Garden Tomb, the Room of the Last Supper, Gethsemane and not be a new person?
That’s what Israel does to you. It forces you to confront your faith in a whole new way. It makes you think and it makes you feel. It is a place that everyone must do at least once in a lifetime.
All the money being spent on young people is worth it. Israel is not a country like any other country. It is like a pair of glasses and a mirror. It allows you to see the world differently and to reflect on your own faith.