ETBU Students, Faculty Preparing For Two Weeks In Israelby Joe Holloway News Messenger
MARSHALL NEWS MESSENGER (5/2/12) - A group of East Texas Baptist University students and faculty, including Professor of Political Science Dr. Israel Nandamudi and President Dr. Samuel "Dub” Oliver, are set to begin a month-long course that will take them all the way to Israel for two weeks this May.
Nandamudi said he hopes the course will help students learn what it’s like to walk where Jesus walked.
"We have several students with the potential to be spiritual leaders,” he said. "That is the main purpose of this is that we want to train spiritual leaders, train them in their spiritual walk so they can make a difference on campus and after they graduate.”
The course will be split into two 2-week periods, the first of which will be spent focusing on the more academic side of Israel on the ETBU campus.
"We want to teach the geography, the history, the culture, the political systems,” said Nandamudi, adding that there are a lot of misrepresentations about the region, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "You’re talking about the Holy Land. It’s a very important place for three religions. This is where we train our future leaders, unless we teach them, they will not have a proper understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Dr. Nandamudi did say it would be quite an effort to cram all of that information into a 2-week period.
"It’s going to be a Herculean task to teach all of that in 2 weeks,” he said. "But they’ll have a basic understanding of the Holy Land before they go.”
The second half of the class will come after the group takes flight to Tel Aviv, Israel on May 16.
Nandamudi said that half would be more spiritual in nature and would include trips to places like Mt Carmel, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
"We not only visit these places, but we’ll see these places and then come back and have a devotional about them,” he said. "We can go visit the house of Peter and then later come back and talk about Peter.”
Both Nandamudi and Oliver have made their own trips to Israel in the past and Nandamudi said their own experiences were a big part of why they thought students should have a similar opportunity, which he said would be transformational.
"Your study and quiet time will never be the same after you visit these places,” he said. "It’s one of those mind blowing spiritual experiences that will make sure your life will not be the same. It’s like reaching out and touching history.”
According to Nandamudi, it’s a trip the school hopes to repeat in the future, and hopefully one it can include people in the Marshall community on as well.
"This is the first time we’re doing this, which is why I’m so excited, but we want to be able to go at least once every two years,” he said. "And we want to include the community as well. In the future we want to combine the Marshall community and students and we can all go.”
The initial price tag on the trip was approximately $3,400 per person but, thanks to some generous donations, Dr. Nandamudi said the price ended up being closer to $2,000, where he hopes it will stay for future trips as well.
"We want to keep it in that ballpark because these are students we’re talking about,” he said. "And the local community would also be able to join us and be exposed to the Holy Land too.”
Anyone interested in the program can contact Dr. Nandamudi at (903) 923-2085 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this or future trips.
"It’s been a lot of work to get this together,” he said. "But I am so thrilled it’s happening.”
(Used by permission www.marshallnewsmessenger.com)