Liberty University School of Law students and family experienced life-changing events that left them at a loss for words as they traveled to the Holy Land in the law school’s first Israel study trip last month.
The program actually began a week before the trip, when students took a full week of classes at Liberty from an Israeli professor who taught them a deep background of the history of Israel. The 12 students then began their two-week study trip on May 19, taught by Liberty and Israeli academic and political experts.
|Liberty University School of Law students stand in front of Knesset, the legislature of Israel.|
The trip provided rare and unique opportunities, including a chance to meet with the spokesman and advisor from the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, an Israel Supreme Court Justice, as well as business leaders. They also took a tour of an Israeli Air Force base in the valley of Jezreel, which civilians rarely get a chance to witness.
Third-year law student Susan Alkire said the trip impacted her in a profound way.
“It has been an amazing experience that has not only challenged me educationally, but most importantly spiritually. The Lord is moving and shaking Israel. The opportunity to represent the Lord through all I am doing is an incredible privilege,” she said.
Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law, went to Israel last year with the goal of establishing the program and externship opportunities. Returning with a group this year, he described it as something “only God could have orchestrated” and “truly an experience that was beyond words.”
During the week, he was able to share from the Scriptures of Matthew while standing on the Sea of Galilee; lead the group to the Garden of Gethsemane, the site of Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; and view the Via Dolorosa, the road where Jesus walked with the cross to Golgotha.
“It’s phenomenal that you are actually in the Garden of Gethsemane, where there is an Olive tree that would have been a little tree at the time of Jesus, but now it’s 2,000 years old and still surviving,” Staver said.
|Law students and faculty enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee in Israel.|
A trip to the Holy Land allows people to walk away “literally knowing more about Israel because they have walked the land and they have touched and communicated with the people,” he added.
The students were able to visit Yad Vashem, a Holocaust museum in Israel that tells the story of the Holocaust through the survivors. They met Holocaust survivor Jacob Handelli, who still bears the tattoo on his forearm from Auschwitz.
“It’s incredible to tour Yad Vashem and then actually meet a real Holocaust survivor in the flesh,” Staver said. “It’s hard to describe it in terms of the impact that it has had on us.”
Next year, Staver said the study trip will also be available to Liberty University undergraduate and graduate students.
This summer, three of Liberty’s law school students who participated in the trip have remained in Israel for eight-week externships at separate locations. The students are staying in the home of a former advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Alkire remained in Israel for her externship at Project HEART, a Holocaust-era asset restitution task force. She said she is blessed to be able to travel, attend the study abroad program and now extern there.
“They [the Israeli people] have opened their homes and hearts to me, and it is a real privilege and honor to be working over here representing Liberty University School of Law and, most importantly, the Lord.”