Council for the National Interest

Introducing Birthright for Evangelical Christians

May 17 2015 / 3:40 pm

Participants in the trip were transformed into enthusiastic pro-Israel advocacy messengers…

Nathan Guttman, Forward

Conservative Jewish funders and Christian donors of Hobby Lobby fame have joined forces to launch a Christian Birthright trip, modeled after the successful program that has taken thousands of Jewish young adults to Israel for the past 16 years.

Covenant Journey, a subsidized evangelical 11-day trip to Israel that was officially announced May 8, will bring 250 students to the Holy Land by the end of the summer. It aims to bring thousands more in the upcoming years.

Just like the Taglit-Birthright Israel program it is modeled after, Covenant Journey seeks to strengthen American students’ love for Israel. But instead of having them mingle with young Jewish soldiers, participants walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and visit Christian holy sites. According to the program’s founder, the results from a recently launched pilot tour were encouraging. Participants in the trip were transformed into enthusiastic pro-Israel advocacy messengers.

[The program was announced on May 8, 2015 at the Israeli embassy.]

“I grew to love Israel by reading my Old Testament, but after visiting Israel, it gave me a push to act for Israel,” said Erica Tomlin, a 19-year-old sophomore at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, the school founded by the late reverend Jerry Falwell. Tomlin, who participated in the first trial run of the trip this past winter, said: “It changed my career path. Now I want to work on advocating for Israel.”

Program organizers say their target audience consists of Christian student leaders who support Israel. While not officially limited to evangelical Christians, most of those signing up identify as evangelical. Many attend Christian colleges like Liberty. One of the trips planned for this summer will include only Christian students from Ivy League universities. The heavily subsidized cost for students on all Covenant Journey tours is $500. (Taglit-Birthright Israel is free.) Two foundations underwriting the project covered the rest.

The 11-day program, which varies slightly from trip to trip, is a mix of a Christian pilgrimage and a pro-Israel training camp. Participants in the pilot tour visited Christian holy sites, including Jerusalem; Nazareth; the Sea of Galilee; Mount of the Beatitudes; Tabgha, traditionally viewed as the place where Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and Capernaum. But they also toured the Western Wall and Jerusalem’s old Jewish quarter, and ventured to Israel’s northern and southern borders, where participants heard about the country’s security challenges. In Sderot, Christian students experienced an itinerary similar to one that many Jewish groups and American politicians go through: a lookout at Gaza, visits to a children’s playground with adjacent bomb shelters and a stop at the stack of Hamas rockets fired at the Southern town. The tour did not include any planned meetings with Israeli Arabs or Palestinians living in the West Bank.


Steve Green, Jackie Green, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, and Paul Singer at the launching of the new Covenant Journey program

Steve Green, Jackie Green, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, and Paul Singer at the launching of the new Covenant Journey program

New Taglit type program launches for Christian college students

Jerusalem Post

“There’s one thing better than standing with Israel, and that’s standing in Israel,” Israel’s Ambassador the US said in Washington.

A new program has been launched for Christian student leaders, modeled after Taglit-Birthright Israel trips for young American Jews.

Covenant Journey, a program of trips to Israel for Christian student leaders at colleges and universities, was unveiled on Friday, May 8, at the Israeli Embassy in Washington’s Annual Christian Solidarity Event.

“There’s one thing better than standing with Israel, and that’s standing in Israel. It is critical to bring the next generation of leaders in the Christian Community to Israel,” said Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer.

“If they walk in the places where the patriarchs and the prophets and the kings and that young Rabbi from the Galilee walked, then they will stand with Israel here and they will strengthen their Christian identity,” added Dermer.

Christian students will be able to participate in Covenant Journey for only $500 because of underwriting from generous donors including Museum of the Bible and the Philos Project.

“As young adults experience Israel firsthand, their faith is strengthened, their knowledge of the Bible is increased and their understanding of the connection between the Bible and the Land of Israel is put on solid ground,” said Steve Green, chairman of the board for Museum of the Bible and a keynote speaker at the Israeli Embassy’s Annual Christian Solidarity Event on Friday.

“It will create a foundational platform from which they can become goodwill ambassadors for Israel and the Jewish people, and the Covenant Journey participants will never be the same,” said Green.

Hundreds of students will embark on Covenant Journey trips this summer, with more to follow during the winter break this year and thousands to come over future years. Covenant Journey is selecting students from across the country to participate based on their leadership roles on their campuses, their desire to become advocates on behalf of Israel and their desire to strengthen their Christian faith. Participants in these 11-day trips will experience where Biblical history happened while also discovering the vibrant meaning of modern-day Israel.

When they return home, participants will serve as goodwill ambassadors building bridges between the United States and Israel, according to the program initiators. They will share what they saw and learned in Israel with their campus, hometown and church communities.

“By enabling Christian students to visit the land of Israel and see it firsthand, Covenant Journey is raising up a generation that will not only be stronger in their faith, but will also be introduced to the real-life people who live there. The students will discover ancient Israel and modern Israel at the same time,” said Paul Singer, one of the two keynote speakers at the Israeli Embassy’s Annual Christian Solidarity Event on Friday.

“And for me, as Jew, that’s huge. At this point Covenant Journey has become part of my journey, and I’m proud to say that I support everything that it stands for. I truly believe that Jews, Christians, and all of Western civilization will be reaping the fruit of this project for years to come,” said Singer.


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Posted by on May 17 2015 . Filed under Commentary & Analysis, Featured articles, Israel Lobby . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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