December 23, 2011

Where my last seminary class could be...

Now that I have successfully passed my recent class in the Gospel of Mark, I am now looking forward to taking my last elective class, I hope, in Israel with Dr. Widbin, my Old Testament and Hebrew professor at Alliance Theological Seminary.

The dates for the elective class trip will be March 11-22, 2012.

My good friend David Stall had suggested that I go on this trip as an elective credit class, to fulfill my credit requirement to graduate in May.  I have 3 credits to complete and this trip will count for 3 credits too.  And I thought, he's right!  What an awesome way to finish up the past four years of my life in seminary, by going to Israel, experiencing what I have been reading about in seminary!

One of the concentrations I have chosen while in seminary was learning Hebrew and it has been quite a challenge to learn to read and write biblical Hebrew.  Because I have been learning Hebrew and continue to improve my reading of the Hebrew text, my heart is just overwhelmed with hope that I actually may be able to go to Israel for school.

When I first started learning Hebrew in Dr. Bryan Widbin's classes, I wondered how much and how well I would really be able to learn this biblical language.  But through small steps, this has been accomplished, yet I still have a long way to go to where I can read, comprehend and speak the text in a fluid manner.  With daily practice, I will, but it has been such an amazing journey just to be able to read, write and speak as much as I do now!  For that, I will be incredibly grateful to Dr. Widbin's love for teaching Hebrew and the Old Testament to students that attend ATS.
Alliance Theological Seminary Christmas Dinner, December 2010
My wife Kristi, Dr. Widbin and I
There is one obstacle that stands between me and getting on the plane to go on this trip in March 2012.  Even though I am tentatively registered to take an online class in Pastoral Methods as my last class, my heart is hopeful that I may be able to go to Israel instead, with your help.

The cost for this trip is $3,300 and I have no more money in my student account to cover the cost for this trip.  So far however, I have received a gift of $1,000 to help offset the cost, which leaves a balance of $2,300 that is needed to go on this trip.

If you would like to make a donation, to help offset the cost for this last class in Israel, I would be grateful beyond words.  92 people donating $27 each will reach the goal of the $2,300 balance.  I am asking if you would be willing to make a $27 donation to my PayPal account and help me raise the remaining balance by January 12, 2012. ($1.75 of this donation will help offset fees to PayPal for processing your donation)

Now, some of you may be wondering if my wife is able to go on this trip with me and she has expressed both excitement and disappointment about it.  She's excited because it would be an amazing experience for me as I finish seminary and graduate in May 2012.  On the other hand, she's disappointed because as much as she would love to go, our finances prevent that from happening and the cost for her to attend would be $3,300 as well.

I am hoping that in the next three weeks, if a minimum of 224 people donate a minimum of $27 each, this would help cover the cost of the trip for both of us. You can help by clicking on the PayPal button to make your donation.

Please note, the cost of the trip is fully refundable if the trip is cancelled due to an insufficient number of paid participants to go to Israel.  I will contact you regarding your donation, to make sure that it is properly returned.

As of Friday, 27 January 2012, this trip is now confirmed and Kristi and I will be going to Israel in March!

A complete itinerary of the trip can be viewed at this link here from Dr. Widbin's website.

I also want to share with you, just a few pictures from Dr. Widbin's trip in April 2011, so you could get an idea of what the experience will be for me/us.

As I looked through several hundred photos from friends that I have taken classes with, who went on this trip, I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of regret that I didn't go with them last April. But hopefully with your help, I'll be able to go and my wife might be able to go too.
In Jerusalem
Dr. Widbin teaching at Arad
Mount of Olives, Gethsamane
Qumran - Dead Sea Scrolls
Camel ride in the desert
The Western Wall of the Temple Mount, below the Dome of the Rock
John Matarazzo, Jee Yau, Daniel Park and Andrew Chun
praying at the Western Wall
Photo credits go to Eugenia Ko, Nestor Soto and Joy Haidle 
who went to Israel with Dr. Widbin in April 2011.

Lastly, I want to share with you an excerpt of Katie George's testimony regarding her experience going to Israel with Dr. Widbin -
Since going to Israel with Dr. Widbin, I no longer read the Scriptures in the same way. The experience of Israel, and the knowledge I gained through our time together there, colors everything I read.  The Easter narrative makes me recall walking up the stairs that Jesus traversed during His passion, and His suffering for me seems more profound somehow, having walked the very streets He walked.  When I feel a need for refuge and turn to the Psalms, I often think of taking a few moments to rest in a cleft in the rocky wall of a wadi.   I can not think of Elijah on Mount Carmel without going there in my mind and remembering our group's time alone with God; after Dr. Widbin's presentation I sat on a rocky outcropping and asked for the type of faith that truly lives each day believing in a God who invades our existence and demonstrates His involvement in our world.  The God of Elijah was so real to me in those moments!  And that experience continues to enrich my life. I could say the same of visiting the Sea of Galilee, standing amid the dusty hills of the wilderness, driving up the wadi between Jericho and Jerusalem, and on, and on.  These experiences, and the vibrant context they provided to me for the Scriptures I cherish, have somehow come home to America with me in a way I could never have anticipated.  My life, my faith and my understanding of the Word have all been impacted by the two weeks I chose to dedicate to studying with Dr. Widbin in Israel.  My profoundest gratitude is due him for leading our group on such an amazing journey.  Katie George, 30 June 2010
It is my hope, for Kristi and I, to be able to go to Israel together and be able to share a testimony of our experience in Israel, like this one from Katie.

Your donation of support to help me and hopefully my wife, attend this trip to Israel is greatly appreciated.

 שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל:  יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְהוָה אֶחָד
Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deuteronomy 6:4

Faithfully in Christ,

Pastor Kurt


Anonymous said...

I am very excited for you to be going on this trip!!! You can def count me in as one who will sow into your trip. It is my hope to that Jan next year I will be going to Israel as a graduation gift. Just by reading the comment Katie George made has made me even more wanting to experience the trip. As soon as I get paid again I will be making a donation.

Kurt Michaelson said...

Thank you Greg!

Chrystie Cole said...

Sending $50 (hoping that will help get your wife there too!!!) It's a great opportunity. Good luck and praying God's blessings over this for you!

Kurt Michaelson said...

Thank you Chrystie!

Anonymous said...

Kurt- We hope this helps getting you guys there! Love, Chris, Patti, Ryan and Kaylee Ball xoxox