A Covenant Journey tour of Israel is unlike any other, as it is designed specifically to motivate college students to discover and affirm their Christian faith and identity through an experiential journey and educational experience of Biblical, historic, and modern Israel, providing participants with the ability to advocate for Israel upon their return.
The tour will consist of groups of approximately 40-50 students from various colleges and universities.
The Covenant Journey tour is only for college-age students who (1) are Christians, (2) have leadership potential, and (3) have some level of support for or interest in Israel. College students selected for the tour pay only a $500 registration fee. Everything else is covered by Covenant Journey, including flights from the United States to Tel Aviv, hotel, three meals a day, luxury bus, experienced tour guide, speakers, and all entrance fees.
1. February 2011 – At the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, TN, Mat Staver met with several different individuals from Israel to discuss the idea of bringing young people to Israel for a broad experience that includes Biblically significant sites and an unparalleled look into ancient and modern Israel.
2. March 2011 – Mat Staver convened a meeting in Virginia to continue the discussion of a tour program to create a “Christian birthright” tour program for Christian young people like the Jewish Birthright program provides for Jewish young people. The working name was the “Goodwill Ambassador” program.
3. April 2011 – Mat Staver convened multiple meetings during this month in Virginia and in Central Florida that included academic and other leaders from Israel, Hispanic leaders to extend the program’s reach into the Hispanic community and Liberty Counsel’s lead prayer intercessor, to continue to plan for the “Christian birthright” program. The academic leaders were from Ono Academic College in Israel. The planning also included an undergraduate and a law school academic internship program in addition to the “Christian birthright” experiential tour.
4. June 2011 – Mat and Anita Staver visited Israel on a fact-finding mission regarding the development of a “Christian birthright” and academic program for young people. During this one-week fact finding mission, the group met with the Israel Minister of Public Affairs and the Diaspora, all of the top administrative and academic leaders of Ono Academic College, possible hotel sites for the tour, an agricultural farm in the Negev, the Israel Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Justice, the Minister of Finance, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Present in the meeting with the Prime Minister was Special Advisor Ron Dermer, who was later appointed the Ambassador to the United States, and Advisor Rivka Kidron, the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor, whom Liberty Counsel later hired to work on the development of the Liberty Ambassador Counsel and Covenant Journey.
5. July 2011 – Upon return to the United States, planning continued and a date for the first experiential tour was set for September 2011. The name selected for the tour was “Liberty Counsel Israel Goodwill Ambassador” tour, which had the twin goals of (1) strengthening the participants’ Christian faith, and (2) equipping them to be goodwill ambassadors for Israel. These are the same goals that became the mission of Covenant Journey. The academic component had the working title of Israel Goodwill Ambassador Counsel Academy. On July 17, 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu sent a letter to Liberty Counsel for the launch of the first tour. The letter from the Prime Minister read, in part: “It gives me great pleasure to invite the delegates of the Israel Goodwill Ambassador Counsel to visit Israel as part of its historic launch in September. The Israel Goodwill Ambassador Academy plays an important role in strengthening the relationship between the United States and Israel and the shared values that unite our two peoples…. I look forward to welcoming you all during your visit.”
6. August 2011 – Mat and Anita Staver returned to Israel to lead a bus tour for another organization unrelated to the program, but with the tour provider and vendors selected for the first Liberty Ambassador Counsel tour.
7. September 2011 – Liberty Counsel launched the inaugural Liberty Ambassador Counsel experiential
tour. This tour included all the spiritual and Biblical sites of a typical tour, but included Israeli speakers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a former Senior Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Senior Advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former Advisor to Prime Minister Olmert, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations on Human Rights who, along with John Bolton, overturned the “Zionism is Racism” UN Resolution, a Commissioner with the Jewish Agency working on the recovery of confiscated items during the Holocaust, a professor from Ariel University in the Middle East, Israel-Arab conflict and coexistence, and national security, an Israel Air Force base with lectures from the Commander and fighter pilot. This tour became the template for Covenant Journey. During this tour, Mat Staver met Professor Alex Bligh from Ariel University in Israel. Staver later hired Professor Bligh to teach a summer course at Liberty University School of Law on “Israel and Middle Eastern Law and Policy.”
8. January 2012 – Mat Staver returned to Israel on another tour unrelated to the specific program, but this was related to the launch of the Israel Common Values Mutual Fund that began trading on the Tel Aviv and New York Stock Exchanges in the latter part of 2011. The Israel Common Values Mutual Fund launched in the fall of 2011 and is part of The Timothy Plan Mutual Funds, where Mat Staver serves as a founding member of the Board of Trustees. In addition to spiritual and Biblical sites, this tour included dinner in the home of the Druze family, meetings with the CEOs and top executives of large publically traded telecommunications, technology and banking companies, the head of the Prime Minister’s Economic Council, representatives of the Jewish Agency and the Knesset, the Minister of Finance, the Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy and the Office of the Director of New Media in the Office of the Prime Minister.
9. May 2012 – As Dean of Liberty University School of Law, Mat Staver hired Israeli Professor Alex Bligh from Ariel University in Israel and the law school launched the Israel study abroad program which included a one-week intensive lecture from the Israeli professor followed by the Liberty Ambassador Counsel tour in Israel. This tour was comprised of both students and non-students and included the addition of meetings with a Holocaust survivor, Knesset Members in the Knesset, a meeting with an Israeli Supreme Court Justice in the Supreme Court, a lecture on business and technology, and an archaeological excavation. At the end of the 10-day tour, the summer internship program was launched placing three law students in three separate programs – Project Heart with the Jewish Agency, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and an organization that works with NGOs.
10. November 2012 – Liberty Counsel hired Rivka Kidron, Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to work for Liberty Counsel to, among other things, work with the Liberty Ambassador Counsel to promote the twin goals of the program and develop relationships with Israeli government, academic, political, judicial, military, business, and religious leaders.
11. May 2013 – The next Liberty Ambassador Counsel tour occurred which included adults as well as students participating in the study abroad and summer internship programs.
12. 2013 – Liberty Counsel trademarked the name “Covenant Journey” for the name of the experiential tour program designed for young people based on the template of and with the identical twin goals of the Liberty Ambassador Counsel experiential tour.
13. December 2013 – Mat Staver participated in and helped lead an Israel tour for the Council for National Policy, during which he also met with academic and other government leaders regarding the Liberty Ambassador Counsel and Covenant Journey programs. The difference between the two is the former is open to non-students and students who bear the full cost of the tour and the latter is for Christian college-age students who pay a minimal fee with the rest of the cost underwritten by donations.
14. May 2014 – Mat and Anita Staver led another Liberty Ambassador Counsel tour with non-students and students, which involved an academic study abroad and a summer internship component for students.
15. November 2014 – Liberty Counsel announces the first Covenant Journey tour for college-age students and launches a website for registration.
16. December 2014 – Liberty Counsel secures Covenant Journey as a dba in addition to already having the trademark for Covenant Journey.
17. December 2014 – January 2015 – Mat Staver and Liberty Counsel staff lead the first group of college-age students on the inaugural Covenant Journey tour. The tour is virtually identical to prior Liberty Ambassador Counsel tours except it has more hiking, more tie-in and debrief time, and more praise and worship. This first trip is underwritten by a generous contribution of Steve and Jackie Green. Students paid only the $500 registration fee for the tour.
18. May 15 2015 – Mat Staver files the Articles of Incorporation for Covenant Journey.
19. May 2015 – Liberty Counsel combined into one tour non-students with the Liberty Ambassador Counsel tour and college-age students with the Covenant Journey tour. The Covenant Journey tour was underwritten by the Museum of the Bible and Liberty Counsel, as were the subsequent tours in June, July, and August. As with all prior Liberty Ambassador Counsel and Covenant Journey tours, these tours are managed and directed by Liberty Counsel.
20. June 2015 – Liberty Counsel conducted two Covenant Journey tours.
21. July 2015 – Liberty Counsel conducted one Covenant Journey tour.
22. August 2015 – Liberty Counsel conducted the sixth Covenant Journey tour, thus concluding the first inaugural six tours.
23. October 2015 – Liberty Counsel completed the incorporation of Covenant Journey with a board of directors, launched a new website and registration page, set dates for future Covenant Journey tours, and began accepting applications.
24. December 2015 – January 2016 – Covenant Journey began the second year of experiential tours and educational programs.
PAST COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES REPRESENTED
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