By Camryn Manning, Opinions Editor
November 8, 2023
In light of the Israel-Hamas war, many OBU students have been left wondering what will happen to the scheduled Israel Biblical Studies trip this upcoming summer. Some wonder if the trip will be postponed or modified, and some assume it will not happen altogether.
Dr. Nykolaishen, professor of Biblical Studies and faculty sponsor, responded to these concerns.
“Yes, we are going to do the Biblical Studies trip and go somewhere safe,” Nykolaishen said. “Right now, it’s still looking like the area of Israel we will visit is safe. Gaza is a small area of land 25 miles long and 6 miles wide on the Mediterranean coast, and we haven’t had any plans to even come close to Gaza. Our sites, in the central and northern parts of Israel, haven’t been damaged at all.”
Other options are being weighed in case the original location for the trip becomes unsafe.
“If it gets closer and looks like it may not be a good idea, we will shift to another destination,” Nykolaishen said. “The details haven’t been fully worked out yet, but we have considered a trip following the journeys of Paul. It would take us to a number of sites mentioned in Acts 7 and the areas of the churches in Revelation.”
The purpose of the trip is to help students more fully understand what is happening when they open their Bibles.
“Our trip includes sites mentioned in the New and Old Testaments, giving a lot of perspectives on those passages,” Nykolaishen said.
Some of these sites include the Jerusalem temple, probable sites of Jesus’ teaching and miracles, a Nazareth village that has been reconstructed and represents first-century life around the time of Jesus, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Bethesda, the site likely for Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, Caesarea Phillipi, Shiloh, Jacob’s Well, Beersheba, Jericho and the Valley of Elah where David fought Goliath.
“We chose all of these sites because they connect with the Bible and help understand those passages better,” Nykolaishen said. “By seeing what’s there, we can understand the context better.”
Junior Jenna McGraw has been planning on attending the trip since last school year.
“I work in Pruett, so I’ve heard a lot about it,” McGraw said. “I’ve wanted to for a while, and my parents urged me to go. I’ve been planning on it for a few months. It has such an educational focus and makes the Bible come to life.”
McGraw believes that she’d like to see the trip look toward not only education, but also service.
“There are a lot of people’s lives being turned upside-down right now,” McGraw said. “When we travel there, we may have a shift in perspective and begin to ask, ‘how can we serve?’”
An accompanying class this spring is required for those interested in going on the trip.
“Students won’t be paying into the trip until January,” Nykolaishen said. “If anyone wants to go, they should let me know so I can keep them informed about any updates or changes.”