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    US Christian Students Visit Israel to Strengthen their Faith

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    A project lets young Christians visit Israel and learn about the history of Christianity and connect with modern Israeli society.

    Five hundred college students from the US came to southern Jerusalem early this month to participate in the fifth year anniversary of Passages, a 10-day pilgrimage to Biblical sites in Israel. In addition to connecting to the roots of their faith, they are given the opportunity to experience life with Israeils, reports The Times of Israel.

    Seeing the sites solidifies my faith. When I read the Bible, it’s no longer in black and white. It’s in color. —Darion Ouliguian, a senior at UCLA and a Passages fellow

    The young believers were brought to historical sites important to Christianity and Judaism. They also sat in a traditional Shabbat dinner to witness how Israeli families honor members of their families.

    Passages executive director Scott Phillips said, “We are ecumenical in our approach and accept students from all [Christian] denominations and backgrounds. One of the goals of our program is to create an ecumenical dialogue between Christians of many denominations.”

    Passages aims to mold future Christian leaders by making young participants learn about the rich history of Christianity and engage with people living in Israel.

    “Passages is meant to ignite your faith and introduce you to the [Holy] Land. You will never see your faith in the same way again,” co-founder Robert Nicholson said to the students.

    Darion Ouliguian, a senior at UCLA who attends a non-denominational Protestant church, was a former Passages participant and is now a Passages fellow (group leader). “Seeing the sites solidifies my faith. When I read the Bible, it’s no longer in black and white. It’s in color.”

    US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended the anniversary celebration. He lauded Passages for bringing together young Christian leaders from around the US. He added that it is important for young believers to experience Israel first hand, reports The Jerusalem Post.

    Meantime, Former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren told the participants, “When you travel through this country you have to know that this country belongs to you too. It belongs to you because of what you believe in, because this is part of your faith.”

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