Israel Study Abroad Trip Enlightens Students
"Safe. Amazing. Hummus."
These are the three words HIU student Luke Patrick used to summarize his two week study abroad trip in Israel at Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary (NETS). The first two words might make perfect sense, but, hummus? “Israel has a lot of things to offer,” Patrick said, “and the experiences were all great, including the food. We had the best hummus in Israel and every place made it fresh. It was delicious.”
Patrick, along with fellow students David Scotti and Brian Yoou, experienced a winter J-Term course called “Christianity and Islam” at NETS that all three students agree was incredible. “We had some classroom time with lectures and such but we also did a lot of traveling to historical sites and learning on the spot,” said Scotti. Yoou said one of the NETS professors took the students to places like the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, Jericho, and Mount Tabor. “The land is so rich with ancient history and this was evident almost everywhere we went,” said Patrick.
Indeed, from their room in Nazareth they could walk for 20 minutes and be at the Mount of Precipice, which is mentioned in Luke 4. They visited places that are traditionally believed to be where Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount and where he fed the 4,000. One of the main regrets each student had was not being able to stay in Israel longer. “Someone could spend three weeks in Jerusalem alone and not see everything,” said Scotti.
Dr. David Matson, Professor of Biblical Studies at HIU believes that being in the context of the homeland of Jesus makes the material in the Bible more accessible. “To be on the Sea of Galilee and to look at the shore and try to visualize seeing Jesus walking on the shore, just does something, I think, to your faith,” Matson said. “It makes it more real.” He explained that when we read the Bible, we try to imagine the locations mentioned in Scripture. For these three HIU students, Matson explained, “those pictures have been replaced by reality.”
Experiences like these are part of the reason why Matson would like to see students at NETS each semester. He believes this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many students and that they should take advantage of it. “I wish this program was in place when I was a student,” he added.
The requirements for students to study at NETS during J-Term include being close to a junior class standing or above and having approximately a 3.0 GPA. A semester long program is also available for Biblical Studies and preaching majors.
“I would absolutely recommend this trip to other students,” Scotti said. “Not only is Israel a fun place to go visit, but my experience at NETS was very positive and I felt as though I had become a part of their family. The faculty and staff really went out of their way to accommodate us, and they would do the same for other HIU students traveling there.”