Alumna Ellen Fischer shares about her experiences in Israel

Posted by Julia Adams on 6/15/23 1:21 PM

Blog Banner_Alumna Ellen Fischer Visits Israel

“The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of God will stand forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

Right before the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount in Israel, alumna Ellen Fischer (IPP ’23) recalled, was where it hit her. She stood looking down an old Roman Road. To her left, she could see ruins perhaps of the old Jerusalem market. In the midst of the larger ruins, there were little foundations of shops from which people of ancient Israel used to buy and sell. To Fischer’s right, there was the corner of the Southern Wall, built during King Herod’s expansion of the Temple Mount.

While her tour guide pointed out the cornerstone, Fischer had a realization. She had glorified Israel, expecting to have the same spiritual experiences others had described to her. Fischer, however, had a different kind. “It is just [rocks]. The Lord does not dwell just in Israel anymore. He lives inside of His children!”

For Fischer, looking at the ancient sites was like visiting an old history museum. The ruins are of historic importance, of course, but the people who lived there, the places Jesus walked, are just stones slowly crumbling away.

Spiritual Life at Patrick Henry College

Fischer has traveled to Israel three times with Passages, an organization that takes students to Israel to experience and learn about the Holy Land. She first went on a 10-day trip in 2020, but it was cut short due to COVID-19. After that, she had an opportunity to participate in a study abroad program in Israel.

In March of this year, she led her own 10-day tour. Fischer said that she got very excited as she watched people’s eyes come alive as they connected biblical events with the places on which they were standing. “[I want to help] people … experience those moments,” Fischer said.Fischer_GardenTomb

Fischer had been praying about traveling to Israel since she was thirteen. “I read a book series about how Israel got their independence, and ever since then, there [was] just something about this land that I want[ed] to see.” Her prayers were answered during her freshman year when she heard about the Passages trip which only cost $600. After that first trip, her fascination with Israel has only grown.

Fischer said that the way she navigates through other cultures' perspectives on truth has changed since traveling to Israel. Through the training during her study abroad program, she learned to first ask questions to establish the truth. She would put herself in their shoes “and try to understand where you are coming from so that I can then, from my perspective, find common ground with you.”

Fischer also said that in certain Jewish orthodoxy, it is common practice to ask questions when they study. For example, Fischer said, “As you are talking, [someone] will [say], ‘What do you think about Genesis?’ Your answer has to be a question, so ‘What do you think about Abraham?’ Then [the other person replies back], ‘Is Ishmael or Isaac God’s chosen son for Abraham?’ You would continue going back and forth asking questions of each other.

Fischer 3

[Image: Fischer overlooking the Dead Sea]

Fischer remarked that while her understanding of the region has been broadening, her visits to Israel have changed how she reads her Bible. “I get so excited about certain sites … [and looking] at the Southern Steps and [seeing] the completion of the prophecy. God is so cool and He was so brilliant with how He did things.”

Fischer recalled how she read through the Gospels again after her trips and was reminded that she walked through the Old City where these events took place. “You read in the Psalms [where] David says that the LORD owns the cattle on the thousand hills, and … I remember standing in Galilee and seeing cattle on a thousand hills, [and] I get it!” For Fischer, the Bible was no longer a collection of historical accounts, it became very real to her.

“Yes, Jesus was here,” Fischer said, “[But] it does not matter anymore … now He’s in me.” Fischer had been told that she would feel the power of the Holy Spirit in Israel. “I am sure that some of those sayings could be true, but Israel is not a Christian nation. There are not a lot of Christians [who are] true believing Christians.”

Fischer said that Israel is beautiful, and believes that everyone should visit if they can. However, it is important to remember that it is just rocks. The Spirit is not limited by the rock borders of Jerusalem, but is present in her and all those who believe.

She walked away from the Southern Steps with the reminder that she did not need to visit Israel to get close to Jesus. “I don’t have to leave my house! I have everything in the Lord that I am ever going to need.”

Israel: Port of Caesarea (Fischer)

[Image: Port of Caesarea]


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