by Pastor Lyndon Allen
Flying thousands of feet in the air, Tel Aviv comes in sight. With us are twenty-four precious high school students buzzing with expectation for the Holy Land. Ranging in age from 16-17 years old, their eyes were bright with the future. Little did they know that many of those eyes would be filled with tears of compassion by the end of our ten day journey led by Destiny Albrittan of CUFI on Campus and me. These young men and women come from three separate churches in the Central Region of CUFI: Cornerstone Christian School of Pastor John & Diana Hagee’s Cornerstone Church in Texas, Living Word Christian Center pastored by Mac & Lynne Hammond in Minnesota and Word of Faith International Christian Center led by Pastors Keith & Deborah Butler. No doubt; these are sharp students. Each organization sent a chaperone who provided solid preparation for their respective students before the trip.
First stop Caesarea. The Mediterranean shore line wowed them with unexpected beauty and a history that set the tone for the remainder of the trip. The Bible began to come alive to them like never before; they were now seeing what they have only been reading about. The city where Cornelius lived was just the beginning of our tour (Acts 10). Moreover, our guide was Kool. Really, that was his name Philip Kool, fitting for a group of social media savvy high schoolers who ran away with the #CufiKoolYT. Yes, we had a Kool youth tour.
We showed them the Mount of Beatitudes, boated upon the Sea of Galilee, visited Capernaum and drove through the Golan Heights, visiting IDF soldiers. Then, things took a more somber tone while in the north when all twenty-nine of us stood in a bomb shelter in Kibbutz Malkia with leader Eitan Oren. He explained what life would be like having a prolonged stay with several families in a bomb shelter. With that, I posed this question to the students: “How many of you have a bomb shelter beneath your house?” Of course, none responded. The seriousness of Israel’s reality settled deep within them. Here, they realized that their counterparts in the Holy Land were under regular physical and mental pressure. Life in their cities back home was far from this.
Next, the students braved Masada at sunrise, hiking up the siege ramp side of the fortress. This site served to be a place of bonding for the students as the group rallied around one young lady who overcame her fear of heights atop Herod’s desert home. Every step squeezed out fear through every tear she cried. By the end of our time on Masada, this sweet young lady boldly stepped into the cable car that would bring us below, all the while being cheered by her peers. What an experience for all of us to have witnessed. She started in tears in the morning, by that afternoon, joy and laughter. She became an overcomer in Israel. On shabbat night the Lord revealed the depth of the profound experience our youth were having. During our dinner, Nathan Cohen our host asked each of us for a brief introduction and to share our experiences thus far. That’s when the water works welled up in the eyes of all of us as one by one the impact of the trip began to be expressed through the heart of each student. Several stood and explained through tears the sorrow they felt for their peers in Israel having to live with the constant threat of harm. The gravity of which could not be experienced apart from coming to the land itself. The purpose of the trip had been captured; hearts were connected to Israel and the Jewish people. Walking in the physical localities of Christ’s ministry, being baptized in the Jordan River and floating in the Dead Sea, without question brought excitement to the trip. Not to mention their time in the Old City. However, when you see high schoolers shedding tears for the plight of their counterparts in Israel, you know a connection was made!
At CUFI, our desire is to see the minds and hearts of future leaders gain a deeper understanding of the Word of God and to connect with the people of Israel and the land with zeal of the Lord (Zechariah 8:2). In the end, the passion for Israel and the Jewish people must not fizzle out in my generation but must be handed down to the next. Waving the national flags of Israel and the USA at events has its place but nothing can compare to the important step of seeing the next generation open their own hearts to the land and the people who have so touched ours. The future looks even brighter; it beams from their eyes.