The East Texas Baptist University School of Christian Studies journeyed to Israel from May 9-20 as a part of the Global Study and Serve program. During the trip, a group of 32 students, faculty, and staff spent 11 days following the footsteps of Jesus. The trip was led by ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders.

“God is doing incredible things in this group of students in Israel this week,” senior elementary education major Haleigh Akin said. “As we climbed to the top of Mount Hermon today, I reflected on God’s goodness in His promises. Our experience worshiping the Lord this morning and reflecting on His promises on top of Mount Hermon was an incredible experience that connected us as a group of believers to endure together, as well as grew me personally to thank God for all He’s done.”

The Sea of Galilee, Mount of Olives and the Dead Sea were among some of the places visited that allowed the Bible to come to life. On the second day of the trip, the group visited Jerusalem, where they saw sites such as Jesus’ tomb, the City of David, and the Garden of Gethsemane.

“When we first arrived in Jerusalem, it was something that I will never forget as it was filled with history, culture, and fantastic scenery,” senior social studies education major Cade Fant said. “I was able to see places that I never really imagined I was going to be able to see. It helped give me a better visual of these places that are in the Bible. This trip has been one of the coolest experiences that I have had in my life, and it helps put the world in a different perspective, historically, politically, and religiously. It also helps me create a better visual for the Bible stories that I have heard about throughout my life.”

As the group visited these historical sites, they had the opportunity to learn in greater depth and detail from an accompanying tour guide who provided background information as well as shared his personal experiences in Israel. In addition, Sanders shared wisdom and insights with the group as they paused for moments of quiet reflection.

“Today, I was reminded of how God’s way of leadership in my life is better than the plans I could create for myself,” senior nursing major Lori Smith shared. “My focus should be on walking in obedience with the Father, and how each of us is anointed and chosen, designed with a purpose from God — sometimes it’s not up to us to figure out the story, but to trust the One who wrote it.”

From exploring Israel and experiencing the unfolding of God’s story of creation, covenant, sacrifice, and redemption, many students expressed sentiments of gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to attend after two years of cancelled University trips.

“The Lord has been guiding us on one of the most beautiful and life-changing experiences here in Israel,” senior Christian ministry major Colton Berryhill said. “This trip has been phenomenal and more than I could have ever imagined. Seeing the words of God come to life and reflecting on that has been incredible. I pray that the Lord will teach us to remain in His will and not in our own as we return to the States.”