Producing Christian ambassadors for Israel

For 5th consecutive year, NY-based church brings group of students to Israel for a 3-week trip.

christian birthright (photo credit: Courtesy)
christian birthright
(photo credit: Courtesy)
One former participant of the Eagles' Wings Israel Experience program became a legislative aid and speech writer for US Senator Sam Brownback, and is now serving in Iraq as a US army lawyer. Another served as a US congressional staffer on the House Committee on Ways and Means, while a third is the executive assistant to former US Attorney General John Ashcroft, who now serves as a consultant and lobbyist. For the fifth consecutive year, New York-based evangelical Christian ministry Eagles' Wings brought a group of high-achieving Christian students to Israel this week for a three-week-long trip aimed at forging deeper bonds between participants and the State of Israel, and educating them about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that they can become "voices of Zion" on their campuses, and beyond. The program is coordinated with the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus. Dubbed "The Christian Birthright" for its similarities to the Birthright Israel program which brings young Jews on on trips to Israel, the program includes a visit to the Knesset, meetings with lawmakers and Foreign Ministry officials and tours of key religious sites. This year's group comprises 24 young people from the US, Brazil, Kenya, the Netherlands, and Germany. "I always had a heart for Israel and felt that at college I was getting only one side of the story but I lacked the arguments," said Shamir Ceuleers, 23, of the Netherlands. "It was a David and Goliath story at university and Israel was the Goliath." Ceuleers currently serves as a parliamentary assistant to European MP Paul van Buitenen. He works closely with the MEP on investigating allegations that EU funds to Palestinians are being used for terrorism. According to Knesset Christian Allies Caucus Director Josh Reinstein, the program is symptomatic of the burgeoning relations between Israel and the largely supportive Evangelical Christian community around the world. Former and current participants' successes in the political arena are proof that it's already succeeding in producing good-will ambassadors to Israel in political circles, he says. "The Israel Experience Program already has a proven track record when it comes to producing the leaders of tomorrow. With the rise of anti-Israel propaganda, we are dedicated to supporting programs that make the case for Israel and the Israel Experience Program is doing just that."