Huntington, Ind.—News reports of turmoil in the Mideast have new meaning to the Huntington College community this semester. Five HC students are spending the term at Jerusalem University College in Israel.
Huntington College students Bruce Bergdall (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North), John Brittenham (South Milford, Ind./Prairie Heights), Mark Flood (Angola, Ind./Eastside), Lindsey Hamer (Baldwin, Ill./Red Bud Community Unit) and Ben Newton (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) arrived safely in Israel and started classes this week. [Click here for photos]
Faculty say the semester abroad offers unique education opportunities. “Studying the geographical, historical, cultural and archaeological background of the Bible in the land where most of those events took place is a life-changing experience,” said Huntington College Bible and Religion professor Dr. Chaney Bergdall. “It causes one to read the Bible with new insights and levels of understanding.”
“Jerusalem University College has a long history of excellence and we have the utmost confidence in their ability to provide as safe an environment for our students as possible,” said Dr. Ron Webb, vice president and dean of the college. “We realize that Israel is in great turmoil right now, and we realize the dangers of being there. We met earlier in the summer with the parents and students from Huntington College who had planned to attend Jerusalem University College this fall to inform them of all we knew concerning the danger. And we have continually kept them abreast of reports from Jerusalem University College and our government. We wanted them to make a decision to go or not based on as much information as was available. We will continue to pray for their safety and pray especially that they will use good common sense related to their travels in Israel.”
Jerusalem University College, a nondenominational center in Jerusalem, Israel, was founded in 1957, to provide a setting for undergraduate and graduate students to study the Bible in the land of the Bible. It is an international affiliate of the Council for Christian colleges and Universities, and it is also linked to a Consortium of Associated Schools, which includes over 100 theological seminaries, Christian colleges and universities and Bible colleges.
Jerusalem University College was expecting an enrollment of 80 this semester but cancellations dropped the number to 58. The smaller number makes it a very family-like atmosphere and allows each student to stay on campus in the dormitories, offering an added measure of security.
Jerusalem University College has extensive experience in knowing how to plan their field trips in such a way as to avoid troubled areas. They give an orientation to the students about living and traveling in Israel. “Our commitment and ability to meet the personal and security needs of our students remains as strong as ever,” said Dr. Paul Wright, the academic dean of Jerusalem University College.
Lindsey Hamer, the only female student from Huntington College to attend Jerusalem University College this semester, felt confident in her travels. She and her parents carefully considered the safety concerns prior to the trip.
“I think what was the most helpful to us in allowing Lindsey to go was Dr. Chaney Bergdall,” said Lindsey’s mother, Mrs. Vicki Hamer. “He had all the parents come to his house in August and talked openly about safety. It was very reassuring to us.”
Lindsey was to be a member of a Huntington College J-term trip last January to Jerusalem that was led by Dr. Mark Fairchild. The College took precaution and canceled that trip.
“We really felt confident that if there were any great danger, Huntington College would step in,” said Mrs. Hamer. “We knew Dr. Bergdall had confidence in his son Bruce going and Dr. Newton with his son Ben going. And the four guys from Huntington College that Lindsey went with are just incredible Christian men.”
After a lot of praying, Lindsey and her parents were given a peace that Israel is where God wants her at this time.
“There is just nothing greater than to be in God’s will,” continued Mrs. Hamer. “Our peace is coming from the Lord.”
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