News Release

Evangel & AGTS students have life-changing experiences with Center for Holy Lands Study trip

July 19, 2018 | Mallory Johnson


For three weeks this summer (2018), more than 20 students, faculty and staff from Evangel University and its seminary traveled to Israel and participated in a special on-site study of scripture through the Springfield-based Center for Holy Lands Studies.

The program is designed for anyone desiring an intense and comprehensive learning experience in the lands of the Bible.

B-2018-05.30, Wave, Mt. Arbel, Lake of Galilee

Dr. Wave Nunnally teaches students from the heights of Mt. Arbel. This vantage point provides an incredible overview of the Lake of Galilee, where the majority of Jesus’ earthly ministry took place. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“This is the largest contingent of participants from Evangel and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in a Center-led study trip thus far,” said Dr. Wave Nunnally, professor of early Judaism and Christian origins at Evangel. Nunnally has been working with CHLS since 2010.

“Most of the students are taking it for academic credit as a part of their program,” he said. “About one-third are preparing for professional ministry, whereas the other two-thirds are from majors ranging from communications to education to social work, among others.”

Nunnally lead the summer 2018 trip, along with Jeremy Stein, content development coordinator at CHLS. Vince Medina, professor of Old Testament at Evangel, also accompanied the group of students.

“We are thrilled to have such excellent teachers and guides that lead our students through the land,” said Trina Russell, CHLS programs and project manager.

C-2018-06.06 Western Wall 700 years

The team visited The Western Wall, which has operated as a place of study and prayer for the past 700 years. Traditionally, it has served as the closest available place for Jews and Christians alike to pray near the Holy of Holies. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

A total of 63 participants made the trip. There were also students and professors from Vanguard University, North Central University, Northpoint Bible College and Southeastern University who participated in the CHLS-led trip.

The Experience

By studying scripture within its geographical, historical and cultural context, students gain fresh insight into scripture and the life of Jesus.

“Throughout my life I have looked in the Bible with a western-lens,” said Anthony Pezzillo, a junior church leadership major from Michigan.

E-2018-05.28 Anthony Pezzillo

Evangel junior Anthony Pezzillo dressed in a traditional outfit from the First Century A.D. He is from Shelby Township, Mich. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“I’ve only been looking at it in a small lens, not recognizing important fundamental truths that are embedded in the Old Testament and New Testament,” said Pezzillo. “Through this trip, I now see the Bible in historical and geographical context, which helps me understand scripture in a deeper way.

On one visit, students hiked down the Golan Heights to the First Century city of Gamla.

“Since it was destroyed in the First Century and never rebuilt, Gamla gives us a window into the past and provides a greater understanding of what the cities in Northern Israel were like during the time of Jesus,” said Dr. Nunnally.

D-2018-05.25 Golan Heights

Evangel students hiked down the Golan Heights to the first century city of Gamla, which was destroyed during the Great Jewish Revolt in AD 67 by the Roman forces of Vespasian. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Gamla was explored through the four-part CHLS approach:

  • Culture – Discover, in original context, how the culture and language of the biblical story are interwoven in ancient society and daily life.
  • History – Find out what was said and done, and what was meant by it, in the biblical and historical context.
  • Land – See geographic landscape come to life, allowing the land to have its own narrative in Scripture and biblical story, and is as much a character itself as any person in the text.
  • Spirit – Explore the common beliefs of the biblical time period, and how the spiritual climate impacts our understanding of the story.

“My Israel experience has absolutely changed the way I read God’s word,” said Mason Rozean, Evangel junior. “Seeing the world that Jesus saw, and how that world impacted His teachings and life, transformed my ability to understand Scripture. This was one of the most transformational experiences of my life.”

For more information on studying in the Holy Lands, contact Dr. Wave Nunnally at nunnallyw@evangel.edu .

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