Several high-profile evangelical leaders will travel to Israel next week as a part of the “Christians in Solidarity with Israel” trip put together by the National Religious Broadcasters in response to the conflict in Gaza.
The Aug. 17-22 trip will include Anne Graham Lotz of Raleigh, president of AnGeL Ministries; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews.
“I know Christians everywhere join with me in praying for the peace of Jerusalem,” Land said in a statement. “I believe it is especially important for Christians to show solidarity with Israel in the midst of a rising tide of virulent anti-Semitism in the world.”
The NRB is a large umbrella group for Christian communicators involved mostly in radio and television. Its annual conference attracts thousands, and it bills itself as the “world’s largest annual gathering of Christian media professionals.”
The trip will emphasize American Christians’ support for Israel, said Perkins.
“For a large number of Christians, there are two primary reasons to support Israel. We have the Jewish people to thank for our faith and we are instructed in Scripture not only to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but are told that those who bless Israel will be blessed,” Perkins said in a statement.
“Secondly, it is in the national security interest of the United States to support Israel. To abridge our commitment to the state of Israel would be an act of hostility not just to the Jewish state but would do damage to our own vital interests.”
The trip will include popular Bible teacher Kay Arthur, Richard Bott of Bott Radio Network and Chelsen Vicari from the Institute on Religion & Democracy. It will be led by NRB President and CEO Jerry A. Johnson.
Younger evangelicals in particular may not view Israel the way their parents did, wrote Dale Hanson Bourke, author of “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”
“Most evangelicals older than 50 grew up in churches that taught some form of dispensationalism, a theology that views Jews as God’s chosen people, Israel as the land promised to them, and the second coming of Christ tied to Jews returning to Israel,” Bourke wrote. “Dispensationalism has fallen out of fashion in many evangelical circles and is no longer taught in many seminaries or from pulpits.”
Lotz said her father, Billy Graham, has been a consistent supporter of Israel. “He would also express his love for the Arabs and Palestinians,” she said. Her brother, Franklin Graham, spoke at the Israeli Embassy this year on why evangelicals love Israel.
“My prayer is that God’s people in this country and around the world would intercede for heaven’s involvement in Israel, that God would defend and protect her from her enemies,” said Lotz.