Three out of four evangelical leaders have been to Israel, according to the April Evangelical Leaders Survey. Many have visited several times. Some have led group tours of Israel.
National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) President Leith Anderson visited Israel this year. “Evangelicals love Israel because we love the Bible. Like many others, we are challenged by the complexity of the modern Middle East. Visiting Israel wonderfully enhances our Bible knowledge and encourages us to pray for the nation of Israel, our Christian brothers and sisters in the region and for the peace of Jerusalem.”
George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, has been to Israel nearly 40 times. “Mark Twain said Israel is the ‘Fifth Gospel.’ I agree. You understand the Bible so much better when you are in the land,” he said.
While evangelicals are often known for their strong interest in Israel, many are also concerned for the Palestinians. “As Americans we only get part of the picture,” said Jay Barnes, President of Bethel University. “There is injustice on both sides. Spending time with Palestinian Christians reminded us that God’s chosen people include followers of Jesus who trace their roots in the land for centuries. They get hard times from both sides and need our prayers and support.”
According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, more than 1 million visitors arrived in Israel between January and April of this year, which is 4 percent more than the previous record. Some 354,000 visitors arrived in Israel in April alone, 12 percent more than in April 2010 during Israel’s record year for tourism.
Anderson said, “Consider your own pilgrimage to Israel. Go with an open Bible, an open mind and an open heart.”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.