Tyndale’s Israel Study Tour is an immersive educational experience that goes beyond a typical tourist excursion. Usually offered every other year through the seminary, this tour is primarily for course credit for students but is also available to alumni, faculty and staff. The emphasis is to follow the historical geography of the Bible, examining such aspects as the archaeology, local vegetation, historical foods and settlement patterns of the tribes of Israel. This year’s three-week tour was led by Dr. Rebecca Idestrom, Associate Professor of Old Testament, and included a special addition to the student group.
Rev. Joseph Royal, Director of the Arthur Turner Training School in Iqaluit, was searching for a tour for the Inuit students attending the college. Along with Rev. Royal, three of the students enlisted for the tour as they prepared for ordination as Anglican priests. During the preparatory classes for the tour, these three students fully participated in the course work using technology to create a ‘synchronous classroom’ experience. They joined live lectures by using an interactive video chat platform called Zoom. Students from Saskatchewan and Fort Erie, Ontario, were also able to join in the class through this modality.
One of Tyndale’s primary goals is to ensure accessibility for students seeking higher education. Online and interactive formats allow students at a distance to take courses and even complete their entire MTS degree or part of a number of other degrees without having to physically be on campus.
For the Sunday services during the tour, the three Inuit students wore their traditional hand-crafted clothing and also prayed in their language during a communion service. “It was great how they fit into the group and how we also learned about their culture,” shares Dr. Idestrom. “We had a testimony time on the last night. All three of these students shared how meaningful this trip was to them, and they were so glad to be part of the group. It was definitely worthwhile.”
Dr. Idestrom points out how much this trip can affect all the participants. Experiencing the Holy Land and its environment firsthand can change how one views the Bible. “I think it can lead to spiritual renewal,” she notes. “The impact of this region goes beyond history. My main goal is to impart to students a love for scripture so that they will want to dig deeper and grow in their faith in God.”