Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Deeper Thirst for Peace

Communication Arts major Kristin Bollier, a junior from Indiana, spent three weeks in Israel and two weeks in Jordan earlier this summer studying Biblical geography through Gordon's Israel International Seminar. She shares some reflections on her transformative time in the Holy Land and the lessons she learned there.


"Picture mountains, streams, valleys, olive trees and grapevines. Try to imagine deserts and the fertile Jordan River bed. Close your eyes. . . Picture Jerusalem.

There are winding corners of the Old City weaving in and out of little shops owned by Muslims, Christians, and Jews. You see an old woman selling vegetables, sitting on the ground, calling to you. There is a young boy learning how to haggle. . . stepping into manhood as he learns the trade of his father and his father’s father. Take in vibrant colors, a cacophony of detail that fills your eyes up to the brim. This is the Middle East, where I spent five weeks studying this summer with Gordon students and our professor, Dr. Elaine Phillips.

Elaine Phillips, professor of Biblical and theological studies, taught us a tremendous amount about the land. As we sat at the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, Dr. Phillips read the story, found in John 9, about the healing of a blind man. After Jesus spit on the ground and put mud paste on the eyes of this blind man, the man walked to the pool and was healed. But what makes this story even more incredible is seeing just how far this man had to walk in order to reach the pool. Dr. Phillips explained that Jesus would have confronted this man at the Temple, and that the blind man then walked a significant distance to reach the pool. The amount of faith this man had was remarkable. As he walked to the pool, he placed all his trust in the Lord. . . that the Lord was truly going to open his eyes. Though many people doubted the nature of the miracle, and this man wasn’t sure how Christ did what He did, he concluded, “I was blind but now I see!”

In many ways, after this trip to the Middle East, I feel my eyes have been opened. Opened to a new culture. One rich in beauty and diversity. . . A culture with people striving for justice and truth amidst aches and pains. My heart has grown more compassionate, and I have a deeper thirst for peace. I have seen Christ in new ways through this trip to Israel. I have seen His heart for his people, whether Jew or Gentile, and I understand His character more fully. Walking on the streets his sandals touched has changed my heart .
. . . I was blind but now I see."

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