LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Local African-American Baptist pastors and church members are going on a mission trip to Israel.
A total of 26 members of the National Baptist Convention of America, a group of predominantly African-American Christian Baptist members from across the country - three from Lake Charles - are attending this trip.
This is the first time this group has ever taken a trip to Israel.
"What we're trying to do is understand that we are all under one God and what we're doing is we're trying to build a relationship between Christian and Jews," said Angelia Stewart, a member of NBCA who is attending the trip.
Rev. Samuel Tolbert, a local pastor, is the president of the organization.
Next week, they will depart for a six-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
The trip isn't new but this group will get to meet with Ethiopian Jews.
"In this case it's Christians here in the United States, significantly historically African-American Baptist Christians that are going.I think that puts a whole new spin on it because of the Civil Rights movement. What we went through, I think can lend some information and discussions in Israel about the Israelites and the Palestinians are trying to seek," said Rev. Tolbert.
During the trip, participants will visit historic landmarks listed in the Bible like the Wailing Wall and Capernaum along the Sea of Galilee.
"Now I get to go to those places and I get to stand where Jesus stood. I get to walk where he walked. I get to see the tomb. I get to see the River of Jordan, the Dead Sea....to just know that Jesus stood here. So to me personally, it's a very inspirational, overwhelming feeling," said Stewart.
Rev. Tolbert said he hopes the 26 members will learn as much as they can on the trip and bring the lessons home.
"I just hope that when we come back that we will not only be promoters of peace around the world but we'll be promoters of peace in our own country. In our own neighborhoods and I think that the inspiration for that can come when we see what's going on in Israel," Rev. Tolbert explained. "We come back home and we try to work for peace and for people of different races, different religions, different groups working together for the common good."
Stewart and Rev. Tolbert, both of Greater St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church and Reverend Lannis Joseph of Ebenezer Baptist Church will leave for the trip next Monday.