We made it! None of us can believe it. It seems as if we were posting promotional flyers around campus just a few days ago. That is not exactly the case now.
Our group has come a long way since that cold October day when we attended the first informational meeting to attend the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference. Countless new faces, differing interests, and differing talents would have once defined our group. At that time we barely knew our plans for Thanksgiving and we were thinking of going to Palestine—a hotbed of conflict—for spring break. Many of us were still focused on turkey and stuffing. We can just say a lot has happened since then. Applications have been processed, airline flights have been purchased, and conference registration has gone through. Health physicals have been competed, and safety meetings have been attended. On paper it looks as if we are ready to go, but in reality, we realize each day how much we have yet to learn.
It will be the first time to Israel/Palestine for 20 of the 23 students in our Wheaton College delegation. Each of us expressed interest in this trip in some way, be it through a class, or just having seen posters throughout the school. And Dr. Gary Burge must be credited as the true catalyst of energy and promoter of truth amongst our group.
Just two and a half weeks ago, we were able to listen to a historical presentation of the conflict, given by Dr. Burge. We were introduced to the refugee crisis, the Green Line, the Six-Day War, among many other terms, that were being heard for the first time by many in our group. This initial meeting prompted so many questions that another meeting was inevitable. Not only one meeting, but two.
Next, a student-led viewing of With God On Our Side, a film providing a historical and theological analysis of how different evangelical Christians understand Israel.
And finally, a gathering in my home (pictured) at which we were able to dialogue with three Wheaton College students, who have just returned from being in Bethlehem during the summer and fall semesters. Complete with full Middle Eastern cuisine, our group was able to ask these individuals questions regarding their experience amidst this conflict. As a group we were able to not only interact amongst ourselves and build relationships with each other, but also to listen to our peers who just lived out “hope in the midst of conflict.”
While we once stared at each other, on that October day, unsure of any particular spring break plans, we are now here, one day away from potentially the most life changing experience we will ever have. While we once sat in a room with other students whom we saw as having nothing in common with each other, we now see a united with group because of one person, the person of Jesus.
Each of us has journeyed to understand the importance of Jesus to some extent. We see Jesus as our personal savior, and Jesus as a peacemaker. We are, in fact, all attracted to him in some way. And therefore, we desire to understand Jesus’ teaching of “blessed are the peacemakers” in a context full of hostility and injustice. We want to understand what it means to love our enemies, as he taught, when it seems impossible. Tomorrow, Jesus is the figure who will brings us to Bethlehem.
We therefore invite you to take this journey with us as we dive into the question, what would Jesus Christ do at the checkpoint?
Christ at the Checkpoint Student Delegation Participant