Center for Holy Lands Studies Celebrates 10 Years of Ministry
Ten years ago, the Center for Holy Lands Studies (CHLS) formed under the leadership of the Assemblies of God through the vision of former General Superintendent George O. Wood, who has a heart for in-depth biblical education. Today, General Superintendent Doug Clay continues that vision with a core value of Biblical Engagement, which dovetails directly into the reason for being for CHLS.
Over the years, CHLS has and continues to support the values of the Assemblies of God leadership and constituents by using the lands of the Bible to enhance biblical education in a physical and spiritual environment. The ministry accomplishes this through discipleship and deep biblical teaching.
CHLS teachers, having devoted many years of graduate studies to the study of Scriptures, travel with participants to the Holy Lands to be sure they glean every drop from the biblical text and the land it reflects.
"We understand this is a priceless experience that will transform lives,” says Amy Flattery, CHLS director. “We know participants are investing in their relationship with God, and will relive the memories every time they open the Scriptures."
Flattery says that the heart of CHLS throughout the last decade and continuing on into the future is intentional transformation.
“We pray that every person who travels with us will understand that the lands of the Bible display a rich tapestry of material, masterfully woven together,” she says. “The culture, history, land, and spiritual climate of the time-period create a powerful image of what the biblical text says, what was meant by what was said so long ago, and how we can apply the lessons in daily life.”
Although the Center for Holy Lands Studies is celebrating a decade of service, it is still a “well-kept” secret to many in the Assemblies of God. However, thousands of AG leaders, laypeople, and students have traveled to the Holy Lands with CHLS. And in the last few years, many have been able to take part in the significant archeological excavations that CHLS has offered.
“One of the most incredible things that occurred on my Bible Lands trip is instead of hearing lectures in a classroom, our teachings were given onsite — in the Lands of the Bible,” states Luis Murillo, a student at Southeastern University’s extension in Ocala, Florida. “As I read and listen to the Word of God now, it comes alive in a way that I never imagined possible.”
Flattery says Murillo’s experience is a common thread among those who participate in a CHLS journey through the Holy Lands. She also believes thousands more will soon share in that experience as the future for CHLS continues to look bright and is evolving.
“Over the next few years, the goal is to see another 5,000 people return home from the lands of the Bible different than when they left,” She says. “To accommodate growth and discipleship, we’re continually adding content, devotionals, and videos to the website blog, and we’re working on developing more new and exciting tour possibilities to Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.”
Not to be mistaken for a vacation to the Middle East, Murillo sums up what a CHLS experience in the Holy Lands is all about: “This is not schooling. This is not a tour. This is an adventurous, one-of-a-kind journey that will forever change your life.”
To learn more about CHLS and upcoming trips to the Holy Lands, see its website.