The Baptist leaders at the IFCJ-supported Beit Gilboa orphanage..
(photo credit: IFCJ)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews sponsored a trip to the Holy Land for 14 Baptist leaders, to get a firsthand view of the work the Jewish state and The Fellowship are doing.
The hope is that after their return home, these leaders will take that message to their congregants in order to strengthen Christian support for Israel.
“We are honored to welcome these outstanding Baptist leaders in Israel,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of The Fellowship. “This important mission will not only strengthen the powerful connection between Christians and Jews, but will remind Israel and the Jewish people of the unconditional love and support we receive from our Christian friends.”
In recent years, The Fellowship has been reaching out to the African-American Christian community, building bridges and solidifying ties based on historic relationships forged in the Civil Rights era. Primarily, they have been working together to advocate for the Jewish state against the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and they have jointly protested instances of antisemitic activity.
In 2015, The Fellowship first hosted 21 ministers from the Detroit-based Pentecostal Church of God In Christ, while in January 2016, 22 top clergy of the Washington, DC-based Progressive National Baptist Convention, the movement of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., came to Israel on a trip sponsored by The Fellowship. Also in May of last year, 26 leaders of the NBCA came to Israel with The Fellowship, and last September the IFCJ brought 22 leaders from the Bahamas-based Global United Fellowship to Israel.
“Thanks to The Fellowship, this trip will help us build bridges with the Jewish people while helping us to serve our congregations and in turn to serve God,” said Rev. Samuel Tolbert, a trip leader and president of the National Baptist Convention of America (NBCA), said prior to the trip.
They have been here since February 14, and will be returning February 20, touring Jewish and Christian holy sites. Their stops included the Mount of Beatitudes and the Sea of Galilee, the Western Wall and the Old City of Jerusalem, and archeological sites such as Caesarea, Mount Tabor, and Megiddo.
The church group also visited Fellowship projects that support Ethiopian-Israeli immigrants and the elderly, and visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, and the Holocaust History Museum.
Steven T. Mack, the senior pastor of the historic Little Rock Baptist Church in Camden, New Jersey, has been documenting some of the group’s day trips on Facebook. Upon seeing the locations that he would regularly speak about the pulpit he couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I have often preached from 1 Kings 18:16-45. This is the view from Mount Carmel, where Elijah stood against the prophets of Baal!” he wrote.
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