Cornerstone Men’s Basketball Experience Israel and Visions of Christ
This summer, Cornerstone University’s men’s basketball program explored the historical land of Israel as part of the Golden Eagle’s partnership with Pathfinders and Pastor Scott Nyp. The group of 31 players, coaches, staff, alumni and family members embarked on a vision trip aimed to inspire the athletic team to envision Christ, bringing Biblical history to life as a key mission-driven learning journey within Golden Eagles athletics at Cornerstone.
“Going to the Holy Land was one of the most memorable times of my life,” said head coach Kim Elders. “Walking where Jesus walked and taught was an amazing experience. It brought the Bible to life, and now I will read it in a much different light. It was a trip that opened eyes and brought a new understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ.”
The team explored historic sites in the context of Biblical scriptures, discussing their significance and relevance to their faith today. Site explorations included: Jaffa in the Mediterranean Sea; Caesarea (where Pontius Pilate governed and Simon Peter converted Cornelius to follow Jesus); Mount Carmel and a team discussion of 1 Kings 18:16-46 “Elijah on the Mount Carmel”; Megiddo (Armageddon), best known for the historic future battleground detailed in Revelation; the Southern Stairs (preaching from Acts 2); floating in the Dead Sea; and walking through Jerusalem and the Garden of Gethsemane.
One of the most impactful visits allowed a deeper dive into Matthew 16:13-20 as they explored Dan and Caesarea Philippi where Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah, followed by a stop in Capernaum to walk where Jesus walked, preached and performed miracles. This powerful moment drew the team together to reflect on the life of Christ and pray together on the edge of the Sea of Galilee.
An especially meaningful visit included Tabgha where the miracle of multiplication of the bread and fish took place and Mount Beatitude. The fathers of the basketball program read Matthew 5, 6, and 7, the Sermon on the Mount, where the presence of the Lord was strongly felt by all.
Pastor Scott Nyp preached from John 6:16-20 during a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water. “It was surreal to be where these passages took place, and I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. It helped bring the scripture to life and give me a new perspective of what Jesus and his followers went through,” described team member Mason Brooks (’25).
The team enjoyed interacting with local children in the playgrounds of Bethlehem and experienced the most powerful moments of the entire trip: the visit to the Temple Mount, a sacred Old Testament location where team members were inspired to pray and touch the Wailing Wall, and Via Delarosa.
“The whole experience was mind-blowing. Being able to stand in the same spot that Jesus once stood is a huge blessing and a giant faith booster,” said team member Jack Joldersma (’24) of the trip, and especially the Gethsemane experience where thousands became Christ followers.
“Walking the Via Dolorosa where Jesus walked to his crucifixion and standing on Mount Calvary where Jesus was hung on the cross and seeing His empty tomb were the highlights for me that I’ll cherish forever,” said coach Elders as he reflected the sentiments of the impact on the entire group.
Cornerstone men’s basketball, their families and our partners will forever remember envisioning God’s love through Jesus’ life and sacrifice in the context of historical places and Biblical texts through this extraordinary experience. Biblical integration of faith and experiential learning is a commitment to develop bold, Christ-centered athletes and future leaders at Cornerstone University and through CU Athletics.