I returned to the States after a glorious April month in east Jersusalem at the Ecolé Biblique et Archéologique Française (or EBAF, for short). I’m still processing my experience in the midst of pushing forward on the intellectual boost I received on my research project from well-spent time in EBAF’s library. My trip had a multi-faceted missional character and I hope to blog about my experiences in the months ahead.
   First and foremost, it was a tremendous opportunity to get a huge breakthrough in my writing. I’m grateful that I could bust through some conceptual and exegetical roadblocks to my project on Paul and the Epicureans while at EBAF.

Front Reception Area of the Ecolé Biblique et Archéologique Française (EBAF)
Photo Credit by Max Lee © 2016

   Second, not only was my post-doctoral studies a researcher’s dream, as a seminary professor who teaches with the mission of the church always in the forefront of my work, it was a teacher’s dream as well. I took thousands of photos (10,000+) that I plan on incorporating into my powerpoint slides that I use in my courses at North Park Theological Seminary. I can finally replace other scholars’ photos of the Holy Land with my own. Vocationally, it was just inspiring to live, breathe, and see firsthand the archaeological and historical sites where much of the biblical narrative took place.

Finally, after years of waiting, I visited Qumran, the home of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Photo Credit by Max Lee © 2016

   Third, pastorally, I am grateful for the warm welcome and reception I received from the Palestinian Christian community. I visited both Nazareth Evangelical College and Bethlehem Bible College and heard first-hand the challenges that Palestinian Christians face trying to live out their missional mandate to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) in a volatile political climate where secular Israelis, orthodox Jews, Muslims, Messianic Jews, and Palestinian Christians are in conflict and experience personal frustration at the reconciliation process. It does not help that while many evangelical Christians in North America are keenly aware of Israeli politics, they nevertheless are unsympathetic to the suffering of their fellow Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters in the church. I’m hoping, after my trip, the doors will be open to sending some North Park seminarians to Bethlehem Bible College for field education and study on the peace process in Israel/the Palestinian Authority.

Bethlehem Bible College in the Palestinian Authority where Arab Christians
receive a theological education in preparation for a life of ministry
Photo Credit by Max Lee © 2016

   Fourth, personally, I’m grateful that my family could join me during my last week in the Holy Land and we could visit, survey, pray, read God’s word, and hear the Lord speak to us as we went to Caesarea, Nazareth, Mt. Carmel, the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Ein Gedi, Masada, Qumran, the Dead Sea, Jersualem again, and several other sites throughout Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In many ways, this family time felt more like a spiritual retreat than a vacation. Praise God for that! Amen!

My sons Zach and Jonathan posing in the Mediterranean Sea near Tel Aviv
Photo Credit by Max Lee © 2016