CJ History

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 journey begins in Israel - and continues for life!™

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
Staver Teachingtour. 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.

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. 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.

25. Covenant Journey continues the journey taking multiple trips to Israel each year with amazing Christian college-age students who have leadership potential.


Some confusion has arisen regarding Covenant Journey and Passages. The origin of this confusion is rooted in the fact that Passages used the written language and mission of Covenant Journey to describe its program. The following is designed to help clarify the differences by comparing Covenant Journey and Passages.

Covenant Journey Origin: Liberty Counsel began developing Covenant Journey in February 2011. In June 2011, Mat and Anita Staver met in Israel with many government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss their vision of bringing Christian young people to Israel to strengthen their Christian faith and equip them to be goodwill ambassadors for Israel. In September 2011, Liberty Counsel launched the template for Covenant Journey with the creation of the Liberty Ambassador Counsel (LAC) VIP Tours, which combined both the biblical and historical sites along with modern Israel. In May 2012, the LAC added students and provided summer internship opportunities in Israel. Participants paid the full cost of the tour. In 2014, Liberty Counsel launched the first Covenant Journey experience for Christian college-age students with leadership potential. Except for the $500 required from accepted students, the entire cost of the 10-day experience is funded by private donations.

Passages Origin: Passages began in 2016 using virtually identical language that was developed and written by and for Covenant Journey.

Who is behind Covenant Journey? Liberty Counsel created Covenant Journey under the leadership of Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. He also serves as Founder and President of Covenant Journey, which is a separate 501(c)(3), nonprofit, tax-exempt organization affiliated with Liberty Counsel. Liberty Counsel is the primary funder of Covenant Journey, but Covenant Journey also receives contributions from the general public.

Who is behind Passages? The Museum of the Bible (Steve Green of Hobby Lobby) and The Philos Project/Paul Singer have partnered to create Passages. Paul Singer is a Jewish billionaire hedge fund manager and founder of Elliott Management. He funds many nonprofit organizations to advance same-sex marriage and the LGBTQ agenda. He is the primary funder behind the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 (the marriage amendment), the passage of same-sex marriage by the New York Legislature in 2011, the election of pro-LGBTQ political candidates, and the effort to change the Republican Platform to include same-sex marriage and the LGBTQ agenda. Paul Singer also recruits and trains young people to advance the LGBTQ agenda. One of his LGBTQ training programs is called “LGBT University.”

Why do Covenant Journey and Passages sound similar? Cary Summers, the President of the Museum of the Bible, and Steve Green, the President of Hobby Lobby and Chairman of the Museum of the Bible, wanted a partnership with a Jewish philanthropist to develop support for the Museum of the Bible. They met with Paul Singer in New York to discuss the Museum of the Bible, but he was not interested. However, when Cary Summers and Steve Green proposed a joint funding partnership of Covenant Journey, Singer became interested. Except for the Museum of the Bible and Steve Green, Paul Singer did not want other major funders involved. His representatives also wanted governing board control of Covenant Journey and control of the program’s content. Mat Staver refused to accept funding from Paul Singer because of his pro-LGBTQ agenda and because he wanted board and content control. Cary Summers and Steve Green then created Passages in 2016 as a joint funding partnership with Paul Singer and used the language and concepts already developed and written by and for Covenant Journey.

What is the difference between Covenant Journey and Passages? On the surface, they both sound similar – Christian college students who are leaders are provided a life-changing experience in Israel for only $500. But, the mission and substance are different. While Passages uses the language developed by and for Covenant Journey (to strengthen the students’ Christian faith and equip them to be goodwill ambassadors or advocates for Israel), the respective programs are very different. The emphasis of Covenant Journey is to provide a spiritually transformative experience. The primary mission is to strengthen the students’ Christian faith. To that end, Covenant Journey takes great care to ensure each group has the best spiritual leaders and mentors who are trained and have a passion to work with young people. Each group also has at least one or more Covenant Journey alumni (called a Covenant Journey Ambassador), who participated in a prior Covenant Journey experience and exemplifies spiritual maturity and peer-to-peer leadership. Covenant Journey also carefully selects the best worship leaders from among the group of students or brings a worship leader from a prior group in order to provide powerful praise and worship throughout the experience. Covenant Journey is also highly selective of the Israeli tour guide to provide the best possible experience for the students. Covenant Journey places strong emphasis on spiritual transformation because of the belief that when the relationship with Jesus is strengthened and the love for the Word of God ignited, everything else falls in place. The first and primary mission is to strengthen the students’ Christian faith. The second flows from the first – to inspire a love for Israel and equip them to be goodwill ambassadors for Israel. The latter grows out of the former, but if we only accomplished the latter, we would consider our mission and purpose a failure. The students who participate in Covenant Journey develop a love and passion for Israel and the Jewish people and are able to advocate for Israel upon their return. In addition to the experience in Israel, Covenant Journey continues to work directly with students upon their return to mentor them, and to provide networking opportunities and internships in Israel and the United States.

While Passages uses similar language borrowed from Covenant Journey, the mission is much less spiritual, and, regarding Israel, some students report conflicting and confusing messages from speakers. “Going to Israel has complicated my narrative and given me more questions than answers,” a Passages student declared. After returning from a Passages trip, this student said she can no longer be “pro-Palestine or pro-Israel” and admitted being confused with no solutions. Other students have reported similar confusion. One person who spoke to a Passages group was Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway, a professor at Al-Quds University in “Jerusalem, Palestine.” Abu Sway raises funds for the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Al-Aqsa Mosque “is a steady stream of call for jihad and martyrdom, venomous attacks on Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims, and praise for al Qaeda, Islamic State, or ISIS, and other jihadist groups.” Abu Sway was the president of the Islamic Society of Boston from 1990-1992, which has been associated with a number of suspected terrorists, including the Boston Bombers. According to Middle East expert Dr. Daniel Pipes, Abu Sway is a known activist for the terrorist group Hamas. Hamas publishes articles by Abu Sway on its website.

Covenant Journey leadership personally review and screen every applicant. The review process begins with an online application that solicits a variety of information, including school, major, GPA, graduation date, a personal statement that addresses Christian faith and Israel, leadership, and three written references. The review process also includes electronic, social media, personal communication, and a group telephone conference call.  Students selected for each group represent a wide range of colleges and universities, careers, talent, and leadership. Covenant Journey believes it is important to have the right quality and dynamic of students in each group because they live life together during an intensive, immersive experience in Israel. The Covenant Journey students are high caliber with leadership potential, and many become life-long friends. Passages prefers large numbers of students from colleges and universities, generally deferring the selection process to someone at the college. Each tour guide selected for Covenant Journey has first been personally approved and examined by the Covenant Journey leadership. The tour guide must be very knowledgeable of the Bible, Israel, geo-politics, and must be able to communicate well with young people. Passages does not require the same level of selection criteria for its tour guides. Guides on a Passages tour are more likely not familiar with Christian groups or Christian millenials. Covenant Journey uses Sar-El as the ground tour operator in Israel. Sar-El is the largest ground tour operator for Christian tours and represents some of the best known Christian leaders and ministries. Passages uses Authentic Israel as the ground tour operator in Israel. Authentic Israel is the largest tour operator for Birthright, a tour program for Jewish young people. 


Allegheny College   -   Ambassador Baptist College   -   Anderson University   -   Arizona Christian University   -   Arizona State University   -   Arkansas State University   -   Aspen College   -   Auburn University   -   Augustana University   -   Baylor University   -   Bellevue University   -   Berklee College of Music   -   Berry College   -   Binghamton University   -   Biola University   -   Bob Jones University   -   Boyce College   -   Bridges Christian College   -   Bryan College   -   Buffalo State College   -   California Baptist University   -   Calvary Chapel Bible College   -   Calvary Chapel University   -   Calvin College   -   Campbell University   -   Carroll Community College   -   Carson-Newman University   -   Cedarville University   -   Central Carolina Community College   -   Central Christian College of Kansas   -   Central Connecticut State University   -   Central Virginia Community College   -   Central Washington University   -   Chadron State College   -   Charleston Southern University   -   Chatham University   -   Clark State Community College   -   Clemson University   -   College of the Sequoia   -   Colorado Christian University   -   Colorado School of Mines   -   Columbia University   -   Columbus State College (GA)   -   Columbus State Community College  (OH)   -   Covenant College   -   Dallas Baptist University   -   Dartmouth College   -   Daytona State College   -   Delaware Tech   -   Drexel University   -   East Carolina University   -   Ecclesia College   -   Elizabethtown Community & Technical College   -   Emmanuel College   -   Florida Atlantic University   -   Florida International University   -   Florida State University   -   Fullerton College   -   Gardner Webb University    -   Geneva College   -   George Fox University   -   Georgia Southern University   -   Global University   -   Grace Bible College   -   Grace College and Theological Seminary   -   Grand Canyon University   -   Gustavus Adolphus College   -   Harding University    -   Harvard University   -   Hillsdale College   -   Hope International University   -   Howard College   -   Howard Payne University   -   Huntington University       -   Indian River State College   -   Indiana University   -   Indiana Wesleyan University   -   Iowa State University   -   James Madison University   -   John Brown University   -   John Tyler Community College   -   Kennesaw State University   -   Kentucky Mountain Bible College   -   Lake Placid Baptist Church   -   Lancaster Bible College   -   Lee University   -   LeTourneau University   -   Liberty University   -   Liberty University School of Law   -   Liberty University Seminary   -   Lord Fairfax Community College   -   Lynchburg College   -   Marian University   -   Massachusetts Institute of Technology   -   McDaniel College   -   Mcgill University   -   Messiah College   -   Metropolitan State University   -   Miami Dade College   -   Miami Dade Honors College   -   Mississippi College   -   Moody Bible Institute   -   Morehead State   -   Mount Vernon Nazarene University   -   Mountain View College   -   New World School of Arts   -   North Carolina State University   -   North Greenville University   -   North Idaho College   -   Northwest Christian University   -   Northwestern Michigan College   -   Nova Southeastern University   -   Nova Southeastern University College of Law   -   Nyack College   -   Oberlin College   -   Ohio State University   -   Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine   -   Oklahoma Baptist University   -   Oklahoma Christian University   -   Oral Roberts University   -   Ozark Christian College   -   Palm Beach Atlantic University   -   Patrick Henry College   -   Penn State University   -   Penn State University (Brandywine Campus)   -   Pensacola Christian College   -   Pensacola College   -   Pepperdine University   -   Pfeiffer University   -   Pikes Peak Community College   -   Point Loma Nazarene University   -   Polk State College   -   Princeton University   -   Purdue University   -   Quinnipiac University    -   Regent University   -   Regis University   -   Rhema Bible Training College   -   Riverside City College   -   Roberts Wesleyan College   -   Rutgers-Camden University    -   Saddleback College   -   Saint John’s College   -   Saint Joseph's University   -   Samford University    -   Santa Clara University   -   Seattle Pacific University   -   Seminole State College   -   Shelby Mavis   -   Shorter University   -   Sola Scriptura Bible College & Seminary   -   South Western Illinois   -   Southeastern University   -   Southern Methodist University   -   Southern Nazarene University   -   Southwest Baptist University   -   Southwestern Christian University and Rhema Bible Training College   -   St. John's University   -   St. Mary's University   -   State University of New York   -   Suffolk County Community College   -   Sweet Briar College   -   Tallahassee Community College   -   Tarrant County College   -   Texas A&M University   -   Texas Christian University   -   Texas Tech University   -   The Ohio State University   -   The University of Georgia   -   The University of Kansas   -   The University of Texas at Tyler   -   Thomas Edison State University   -   Truman State University   -   Tunxis Community College   -   University of Central Florida   -   University of Mobile   -   Université du Québec à Chicoutimi   -   University of Arizona   -   University of California   -   University of California: San Diego   -   University of Central Oklahoma   -   University of Cincinnati   -   University of Colorado Colorado Springs   -   University of Dayton   -   University of Florida   -   University of Georgia   -   University of Jamestown   -   University of Kentucky   -   University of Louisiana - University of Memphis   -   University of Louisiana at Lafayette   -   University of Maryland University College   -   University of Minnesota   -   University of Mississippi   -   University of Mobile   -   University of New Mexico   -   University of North Carolina   -   University of North Carolina Wilmington   -   University of North Florida   -   University of Ottawa   -   University of Pennsylvania   -   University of South Alabama   -   University of South Carolina   -   University of Southern California   -   University of Southern Maine   -   University of Tennessee   -   University of Tennessee at Knoxville   -   University of Texas    -   University of Texas at Arlington   -   University of Texas at Dallas   -   University of Virginia   -   University of West Florida   -   Valencia College   -   Valley City State University   -   Valley Forge Christian College   -   Vanguard University of Southern California    -   Vanier College   -   Victor Valley Community College   -   Virginia Commonwealth University   -   Virginia Polytechnic University   -   Warner University   -   West Chester University   -   West Virginia University   -   Western Carolina University   -   Western Governors University   -   Western Iowa Tech   -   Western Washington University   -   William Paterson University   -   Wittenberg University   -   Wofford College   -   Wright State   -   Yale University   -   Young Americans College of Performing Arts

For More Information Call: 407-875-1967

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