Columbus group dodges danger in Middle East

Columbus group dodges danger in Middle East

(WTVM) - Despite a recent uptick in violence in Israel, a group of Americans - some from the Chattahoochee Valley - are in the Holy Land right now.

Andrew Chalmers is one of those from Columbus who arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday, and will be in that country for two weeks.

They're touring biblical and historic parts of Israel, which has been in the news recently for several deadly attacks between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians the last few days.

Chalmers, president of "Take the City" ministry out of Columbus, told us in an exclusive FaceTime interview, that they've seen small fights, but don't feel they're in danger. His group went to the Syrian border on Wednesday.

"It was actually very quiet, you could see the border of Syria, look into Lebanon. There was really nothing going on. I know there's a lot of conflict and a lot of very bad things happening, but we felt very safe everywhere we were going," Chalmers told us.

He also says many in Israel tell them they don't know if it's any safer in America after watching news about the Oregon school shooting.

"A lot of people here (in Israel) say, I'm scared to go to America, they're watching on their news about all of the victims in Oregon. They don't see stuff like that happen at universities and schools to the same degree. It's totally different to them. They're kind of like, I don't know which is safer – America or Israel," Chalmers added.

Chalmers calls this trip an eye-opening experience. He says all the people, Jewish and Christians and Muslims, have been so welcoming.

"What's overwhelming is the willingness of Israelis to pay a price to maintain their freedom," Chalmers said, about the constant conflicts there.

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