Evangelical Volunteers in Israel as Long-Term Pilgrims: Ambassadors for the Kingdom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


Drawing from several years of field work and about 30 life story interviews,
this chapter presents a case of contemporary evangelical mobility that cannot
be squarely placed within any of the related academic debates about ‘(religious)
tourism’, ‘pilgrimage’, ‘short-term missions’, ‘international volunteering’ or ‘migration’ simply because it is intrinsically related to all these phenomena at the same time. Pro-Zionist Evangelical Christians come to Jerusalem from all parts of the world; some of them as part of biblical tours, some for Christian conferences or for Hebrew courses and yet others come as volunteers.This latter group is engaged in what often looks like secular humanitarian work, or sometimes even political activism, but explains these activities almost exclusively in religious terms. Initially, they come for a short period of time but often end up staying in Jerusalem for 10 years or more. What looks like a temporary adventure often turns out to be something more akin to a ‘way of life’. Thus, I will explore this phenomenon as a case of ‘long-term pilgrimage’ in order to discuss the religious meanings that the volunteers attach to their time in Israel, the practices that they are involved in and to the place itself. Apart from providing more data on contemporary religiously motivated travel patterns I hope that this case will prove useful in reconsidering the traditional boundaries between ‘tourism’, ‘volunteer work’ and ‘pilgrimage’, and perhaps also illuminate something of the underlying theoretical quagmires about the relationship between ‘the secular’ and ‘the religious’.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Religious Studies


  • Volunteer Work, Christian Zionism, Pilgrimage, Religious Tourism, Secular and Religious Concerns, Evangelicalism
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPilgrimage and Tourism to Holy Cities
Subtitle of host publicationIdeological and Management Perspectives
EditorsMaria Leppäkari, Kevin Griffin
Place of PublicationBoston
PublisherCABI Publishing
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781780647388
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameCABI Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage Series