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Faculty visit Holy Land to explore more travel opportunities for students

Faculty members spent eight days in the country of Israel before the start of the Spring 2017 semester.

Liberty University strives for its students to have a global focus. To ensure that this mission continues to be carried out, 13 faculty members representing nine departments traveled to Israel before the start of the Spring 2017 semester to learn more about planning future trips for students and to establish partnerships with ministries there.

Faculty spent most of their time in Tel Aviv, Tiberius, and Jerusalem over the eight-day trip (Jan. 2-10), but traveled to other areas within driving distance. They visited significant biblical sites, such as the Garden of Gethsemane, Bethlehem, the Jordan River, and the Sea of Galilee. They were guided by three representatives from LU Send, the office that handles all aspects of group trips for the university.

The group met with 25 Israeli ministries about establishing future partnerships. They also met with 15 Holocaust survivors with Helping Hand Coalition, discussed the pro-life movement at Be’ad Chaim, and worshipped at a local church, King of Kings.

Other highlights included visiting with members of the Israeli Ministry of Education and sitting down with Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, who hosted the group at the Knesset (Israeli Parliament).

“We had a very successful familiarization trip to Israel for the faculty,” said LU Send executive director David Welch.

While Liberty faculty have hosted student trips to the Holy Land for many years, some of those attending this trip were experiencing the culture for the first time, learning how future trips could benefit their students.

“You hear all the time people say that the Bible comes alive when you go,” said School of Nursing Dean Dr. Deanna Britt, who was on her first trip to Israel. “I know it’s cliché to say, but that’s exactly what happened.”

Britt said there is tremendous opportunity for her students in the Holy Land when it comes to the medical field.

“Israel is one of the leaders in medical practice, especially when it comes to trauma care,” she said.

Dr. Jeanne Brooks, associate professor for the School of Behavioral Sciences, said she felt strengthened in her faith after the trip. While there, Brooks was baptized in the Jordan River, the same place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. According to Brooks, the location’s significance and her personal experience helped her commit to a deeper walk with her Savior.

“It was a sweet gift from the Lord,” she said.

Though Brooks said the trip was a great experience for faculty, it also showed her the potential that it had to impact her students, both personally and professionally.

For Helms School of Government Dean Shawn Akers, it was his fifth trip to Israel.

“Every time you go, it’s a brand new experience each time,” he said. “Being able to go with faculty, deans, associate professors, and the LU Send team was just incredible.”

The recent trip is an example of many opportunities provided through LU Send. Currently, aeronautics students are wrapping up a trip to Fort Pierce, Fla., where they have visited staff from Missionary Flight International and met with maintenance technicians who work on planes for humanitarian flights. More than 100 trips are expected to take place during the Spring 2017 semester. Next week, a group of students will attend the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, when Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States.