Be a Wise Visitor,
Says Geoff Tunnicliffe
The Canadian leader of
the World Evangelical
Alliance has visited Israel
four times. By Peter Fleck
Churches on the Mount of Olives. Inset: Geoff Tunnicliffe.
A “full-orbed” trip to the Holy Land should not only include historical places, but also the people who live there
That’s the advice of Geoff Tunnicliffe, secretary general of the
World Evangelical Alliance, an
organization representing 600
million Christians. Tunnicliffe,
who is from the Vancouver area,
is also director of global initiatives
for The Evangelical Fellowship of
Canada. He spoke with Faith Today by phone from his New York
office in January.
PHOTO: NOAM CHEN / IGTO
It does take more work, he says,
for tour organizers to arrange “
encounters with both Palestinian and
Israeli Christians. But if you really want to
understand what is going on today, those
encounters are very important.” Doing so
can “generate concern and prayer for the
Holy Land, and for the community of believers there,” including finding ways to
best support them.
Tunnicliffe has travelled to more than
a hundred countries. Yet Israel, which
he has visited four times, holds special
meaning for him.
“If you’re ever going to take a pilgrimage, Israel is the place to go,” he says.
To look over Jerusalem from the Mount
of Olives or walk the shores of Galilee
brings the Bible to life, he says.
“What initially surprised me about
Israel is how close things are,” he says.
“Bethlehem is only [ 10 km] from Jeru-
salem.” Experiencing the geography and
visiting biblical sites gives indelible “im-
ages in your mind.”
He advises prospective travellers to
closely examine the tours they are con-
sidering. “Who organizes the tour? Whose
eyes are you seeing through? What guides
are you getting? If you have someone who
can unpack biblical stories as you travel,
it brings a great sense of meaning to it,”
Peter Fleck is a writer and photographer
in Red Deer, Alta. Bruce J. Clemenger,
president of The Evangelical Fellowship
of Canada, has also visited Israel. Read
his reflections on visiting Nazareth at