Israel National News sat down with Scott Phillips, Executive Director of Passages, at the IAC National Summit in Florida, to learn about his organization and how it is working to ensure the next generations of Evangelical Christians are supporters of Israel.
Passages was founded in 2016 to take Christian college students from the US to Israel to help them “discover the roots of their Christian faith” and to connect them with modern Israel.
“Many Christian groups who go over, they don’t connect with the people who live there today, the modern Jewish state. Mostly just go to Biblical sites,” Phillips says.
There is a delicacy to the issue of Christian groups visiting Israel. Do they feel people in Israel are deterred by the or fear they are missionaries with a hidden agenda?
He says that is not the case. They have always been welcomed.
“We’ve met nothing but welcoming arms for our students to come to Israel. One of our policies is this is an educational trip, this is not a missions trip. A trip for them to meet the people who live in Israel today, to build bridges of friendship between Jews and Christians. Between Israelis and Americans. And build bridges of friendship for the next generation of Christian leadership who will be in policy and politics, in business, in ministry, in the sciences.”
The program has taken over 8,000 students to Israel on scholarship trips over the last five years.
“The trip is just the beginning. It’s a means to the end. And the end is to have ongoing alumni engagement with these students,” he says. “So we have the Passages leaders network that students are able to join whenever they come back as alumni. We engage them for years go come. It’s a full program.”
They have 15 of their alumni at the IAC Summit.
“We take students to conferences like this all the time to help them learn more,” Phillips explains. “These students are from diverse Christian backgrounds here in the US.”
They are getting a look at the internal discussions of the Israeli American community by attending the conference. It’s also another way to connect them to Israel and the American Jewish community.
“That kind of exposure helps to build the bridges of friendship between the two communities,” he adds.
But much more work needs to be done to ensure support from the christian community for Israel.
“We have to ensure that the next generation of the Christian community support Israel,” he says. “We see worrying trends happening right now. Evangelical support among the younger generation is decreasing significantly. We have a lot of work to be done. We want to be taking 10,000 students a year by 2026. That’s our goal.”