HANNIBAL – Studying the Bible while seated in Old or New Testament Survey is one thing, but Hannibal-LaGrange University offers another way to help students appreciate Scripture.
HLGU partners with Passages, a program sponsored by the Philos Project and the Museum of the Bible Foundation to help students experience nine days in the Holy Land at a fraction of the normal cost. Thirty-seven students traveled to Israel earlier this year with several HLGU faculty, each paying less than $1,000.
“We are so excited about this ongoing partnership with Passages that accomplishes two of our goals for students,” said Miles Mullin, dean of academics at HLGU. “Through this experience, their faith is deepened by adding color to their understanding of the Scriptures, and their eyes are opened to the larger world through this international experience.”
Students commit to pre- and post-trip activities and studies, and once on the ground in the Holy Land, they visit the Old City of Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth and Bethlehem, as well as modern sites of interest, like the borders at Syria or the Gaza Strip (when safety permits), and they share a Shabbat dinner with a Jewish family.
“The students come back more confident in their faith,” said Eric Turner, professor of New Testament and Greek, as well as the head of HLGU’s Passages program. “They grow in their leadership abilities and have an understanding of the modern situation and conflicts that are going on in Israel.”
The trip – usually taken over Christmas break – also counts for academic credit. But aside from counting toward their degrees, students say the program is more than just a class.
“The Israel trip brought to life my understanding of the Bible in so many different ways,” said Tyler Shipley, an HLGU senior studying Bible who made the trip. “The one that brought it out the most was simply seeing and walking where everything happened. The text of Scripture was brought to life by walking where God and God’s people walked.
Alex Bradley, a junior studying public relations, agreed that the trip caused her to “come home with a transformed perspective on the Bible,” while helping her grow closer to her peers and professors.
Gabrielle Wood, a senior studying secondary education and history, said God used the trip to “teach me some things I can apply to my life in any given situation.”