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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

In 2010, I made a difficult journey to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories. The trip was difficult for several reasons, foremost being it meant three weeks away from my husband and young children. But it also was difficult because I traveled alone to meet the rest of the team in Israel. This might have been okay had I not been detained in the airport for a couple of hours and questioned because of my last name (Jammal). The trip got off to a discouraging start.

But leaving home and getting detained at the airport weren’t the only difficulties with the trip. I heard a lot of hard stories, and witnessed some disturbing situations while there. I traveled with a group from Christian Reformed World Missions that was committed to learning about the experiences of Israelis and Palestinians, and hearing directly from those working for peace, particularly Christians.    

As I listened, the truth became clear to me: These are not issues. They are people. People who have faces and names, jobs and homes, feelings and children.  

In the next couple weeks, Rev. Bill Vanden Bosch, a CRC pastor who leads Calvin alumni on trips to the holy land twice a year, will share his thoughts on holy land tours — particularly on the different kinds of tours and what kinds of questions to ask when looking into a tour. Traveling to Israel/Palestine is an incredible experience, one that I would recommend to anyone, but particularly to Christians. Not only can we learn from the history of the land and its peoples, but the present conflict also presents an opportunity to learn about God’s justice and peace from people who are seeking it with diligence and grace.

Join me in praying for Bill Thornburg from Resonate Global Mission as he departs with a group of Christian Reformed folks for a trip to Israel this week.

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