I have been a leader on more than twenty tours of Israel and Palestine. I have a Ph.D. in the Old Testament, in which I focused on biblical interpretation of the Torah, the history and archaeology of ancient Israel, and Old Testament theology. I have two master’s degrees in biblical interpretation (Old and New Testament), theology, and religion and culture. I taught Old Testament to Master’s and Ph.D. students in Brasil. I also taught New Testament and biblical archaeology at Central College.
For the tours, I use the model that my parents, Marlin and Sally Vis, created over ten years and fifty tours ago (historical/archaeological/biblical + contemporary), though I have added more speakers and experiences on the contemporary conflict. My mother, Sally, works with me. She has planned and helped lead over 50 tours. She is a pro. My father, Marlin, is a close consultant. Marlin has been the primary teacher and tour leader, along with Sally and others, on over 50 tours in ten years. Marlin has mentored me for years. He is a pro.
Very few organizations do tours that include history, archaeology, biblical teaching, and the contemporary situation. No one does it better than we do. You may disagree with something I teach along the way, but I find it unlikely that you will feel as though I have not done my homework. We know what we’re doing. You can trust our trips.
Sally and I are employed by the Reformed Church in America. My and Sally’s official title is Church Engagement Facilitator for Israel and Palestine. Churches and individuals support us in this role. If you would like to support our work, you can do so here.
Bachelor of Arts in Religion, Hope College
Master of Divinity, Western Theological Seminary
Master of Arts in Religious Studies, University of Chicago Divinity School
Doctor of Philosophy in Old Testament, Duke University
A bit more interesting
Ideas and concepts fascinate me (I’m a 5 on the Enneagram). But the consequences of ideas and concepts on the lives of people are more important to me.
Certainty is toxic. Dominance is toxic. I appreciate goodness and kindness more than being right and more than winning.
Stand-up comedy startles and delights me. Some of the most honest and subversive thinking comes from stand-up comedy.
Conversations facilitate insight. Sometimes you can only find clarity in conversation.
Adjusting behavior is so hard, but so important. I didn’t want to believe this for the longest time.
I am emotional, but not at expected moments.
Currently, my favorite Bible verses are almost all of the verses of Romans 12, though I do have questions about verses 1, 19, and 20. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 are also favorites of mine. I find it intriguing that Paul, who often stresses faith, places love above faith.
Sally, along with her husband Marlin, are the founders of this work. In 2005, she and Marlin were appointed as the first mission co-workers to Israel and Palestine for the Reformed Church in America. She and Marlin lived in East Jerusalem for three years. They worked for St. George’s College in East Jerusalem, helping to plan and lead tours in the region. After working at St. George’s College for about a year, they began to lead tours on their own.
Together, Sally and Marlin have built a stellar reputation in Israel and Palestine. Sally has many relationships throughout the region and she is highly respected. She is an insider of the tourist industry of Israel and Palestine. This is key to our success as an organization. She has been the point person for all the planning and logistics for RCA tours to Israel and Palestine for ten years (and for more than 50 tours). That’s a huge task and she does it with excellence! She is also a wonderful host and leader for the groups that she and I take to Israel and Palestine. Sally can sense who needs attention and care and she graciously gives it to them.
A bit more interesting
Sally grew up on a farm with no indoor plumbing.
Her family shared a telephone line with their neighbors.
Sally has spent decades looking for just the right hat.
She is one of the most disciplined people I know. She’s the person who eats only a half cup of ice cream.
Everyone loves Sally.
Currently, Sally’s favorite Bible verses are the ones about God’s desire for justice, love, and peace (like Micah 6:8). And yet she named me Joshua, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.