I wrote this in late December before my departure.
Our departure date is 6 days out. I’d be lying if I said I was feeling totally ready, at peace and prepared for both the immense beauty and unspeakable difficulty that awaits.
The 15 of us travelers have taken a class at Princeton Theological Seminary about Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. We were all drawn to this optional second part for different reasons, but all of them weave back to serving Christ and the people of the world better through deeper understanding of what – and who – is out there. We will be going to Jerusalem, including various Israeli and Palestinian neighborhoods within it and other cities surrounding it, and learning more about the Abrahamic religions, the region, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how these things intertwine. We will get to walk where Jesus walked, see many of the most famous holy sites of the 3 religions, and meet and learn from people who spend their lives fighting for progress in interfaith relations. We’re excited, to say the least.
As I prepare for my departure from my corner of the world, central New Jersey, I expect to learn more about how I can be in better dialogue with my neighbors and help take steps toward peace on personal and societal levels. I believe that there is no better time to go to Israel and learn from and with stakeholders than right now. I pray that this will help me better participate in interfaith dialogues, strong and supportive political advocacy for human rights, and the work that I will be doing as a hospital chaplain as I go through my first Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) module this upcoming summer in a New Jersey hospital. New Jersey has a highly diverse body of religions, and I think this trip will be indispensable and forever heart-changing in how I interact with other “people of the book” (or no book at all). I don’t know what it will look like yet, but I trust the Lord’s guidance and calling to go here and listen. After all,
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.