Hundreds of young Christian adults are slated to arrive in Israel this summer for the largest Passages tour since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
The popular tour brings Christian college and graduate students from across the United States to Israel to connect with their ancient biblical roots and get to know the modern state. Since 2016, thousands of students have participated in the highly subsidized trip, which has been dubbed the “Christian Birthright.” Last summer, the group led a delegation of only a dozen young people due to lingering pandemic concerns.
“Our young people – the next generation of Christian leaders – come to be inspired, to connect with the biblical roots of their faith, and to get to know the people, places, and the land of Israel."Scott Phillips, CEO of Passages
Passages said that between the months of May and August, they will bring 17 buses with a total of 620 participants from 23 universities, student groups and fraternities, most of whom have never before been to Israel. The groups include Asian American, African American, Caucasian, and Latino students, with many tending towards pro-israel opinions, according to the organization.
“We are thrilled to be able to resume our trips to the Holy Land,” said Scott Phillips, CEO of Passages. “Our young people – the next generation of Christian leaders – come to be inspired, to connect with the biblical roots of their faith, and to get to know the people, places, and the land of Israel."
In addition, I hope the relationships that are formed in each group will lead to great programming and meaningful opportunities for our young Christian leaders when they return home. The trip is truly a life-changing experience.“
Evangelical support for Israel
Evangelical support for Israel is based on Psalm 122:6, “Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper,” and Genesis 12:3 where God tells the Jewish people he will “bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.”
Pro-Israel Evangelical groups are often quick to declare their loyalty to Israel, sometimes more so than Jewish groups. For example, during the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel in May 2021, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the political arm of the largest Jewish denomination, remained silent.
The anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace also said nothing about Jewish deaths but took it a step further by expressing solidarity with Arabs in Jerusalem. Christians United for Israel (CUFI), by contrast, had no talk of sympathy for both sides, just solidarity with the Jewish state.
In a 2021 interview with The Jerusalem Post, Cindy Matthews, vice president of Covenant Journey, another "Christian Birthright," said she would like Israel to provide more support to Christian tour groups.
“I’d like to see Israel engage with American Christian universities more, encouraging trips like Covenant Journey," she told the Post.
"It would be a tremendous asset if the Israeli government would subsidize trips for our students the way they do for Jewish trips. I have no shortage of students who want to go."