Ever wondered if the Valley of the Shadow of Death is a real place?  Well, here it is.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

(Psalm 23:1-4)

Today, we took the students to St. George’s Monastery on the way to Jerusalem.  It’s a little bit off the beaten path, but this is one of the most interesting places for me.  Actually, the valley is a part of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho mentioned in Jesus’ Good Samaritan Story.  The walls of the valley are super steep, and it was well-known that this was the place where Robbers and Thieves hung out waiting on easy prey.  There’s really no way to get out of here, and the locals call this the bloody pass.

Today, it’s a national park where you can hike, see the monastery, and if you’re brave enough, you can walk the road from Jerusalem to Jericho on the Samaritan road.

We learned a lot about Samaritans, Economics in the region today and back then, The way people interact in and out of religious groups, and how to connect.


The KIVU Gap Year students are learning so much about being in another culture, deep in spiritual division.  This wilderness has been written about for thousands of years, and the reality of standing in the same place where Jesus may have stood; It’s absolutely transformative.

We were wondering about walking through this shadow last night, and the students were super engaged.  The idea that fear might keep us from walking from one wonderful city like Jericho to another vibrant city like Jerusalem is almost an alien concept.  Sure, they have fear, like all of us.  But what’s more interesting is being able to identify that fear, and develop the skills to deal with their fear.

I’m watching some really interesting students become even more interesting.  The kaleidoscope of personalities are becoming more colorful as each day passes.

This experience is something I believe students all over the world need to come and be a part of.  Whether they decide to follow Jesus or not, that’s their own prerogative; but the ability to see, recognize, and deal with the fear every human deals with is palpable as I walk with these kids.



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