20-year-old Blair Nix of Bainbridge, GA, is preparing to embark on the journey of a lifetime on a mission trip to Israel.
Nix will fly from the United States to Israel on July 15 as part of an internship he was with a ministry called HaYovel. In Israel, Nix and more than 200 other volunteers will be based in the regions of Judea and Samaria, sometimes known as the West Bank, where Jewish settlements are located.
“We’re going to serve the farmers in Israel, helping them harvest grapes and olives,” Nix said.
‘Why is such a mission necessary?’ one might ask, seeing as the farmers will essentially be getting free labor to help them harvest. Nix explained that Israel has faced increased criticism from other countries, particularly Arabic countries that oppose Judaism, in recent years. There is even a movement founded by Palestinians calling on people around the world to boycott wine and other goods produced in the disputed West Bank settlements.
However, HaYovel bases its work on Bible scriptures detailing “God’s unfailing love for Israel.” According to the ministry’s website, HaYovel is “a multi-generational and family oriented organization strive to unite Jews and Christians to work together towards one common goal – the restoration of Israel through tending the land.”
Here in Southwest Georgia, we are used to hearing about family farms being passed down from generation to generation. But in the West Bank, farmers haven’t been operating nearly as long and can use the extra help that HaYovel provides to make sure their harvests are successful, thus strengthening the economy of Judea and Samaria.
Nix said he is also looking forward to being near many of the historical sites referenced in the Bible, such as the site where the first temple was built, and the location where God is said to have spoken to Moses.
“We will work for four days, then on Fridays we will tour sites of historic and religious significance,” Nix said. “Because we will be living and working in a deeply religious community, we will observe the Sabbath day with them on Saturday. That’s a time when no one works and instead, they focus on reading the Bible and worship.”
The farmers even look to the Old Testament of the Bible for help in growing their grapes and olives. Last year, more than 500 volunteers went with HaYovel to help with harvest. This year, less volunteers are going because of a scripture that farmers interpret as meaning they should “let the land rest” every 7th year. Because 2015 is one of those special years, the farmers haven’t pruned their grape vines but will still need to harvest the grapes. A large portion of the grapes they produce will be bottled as wine that is donated to poor people in the region, who depend on it as part of their diet, Nix explained.
“I’ve never been to Israel before, and it makes me feel good to know that the work I will be doing will help the farmers in Judea and Samaria be successful, and also help people who are less fortunate,” Nix said.
Nix will leave for Israel on July 15 to help HaYovel get housing and other arrangements ready for the influx of volunteers who will begin harvesting in August. The volunteers will be in Israel through November 10.
Blair Nix is humbly asking for financial support and prayers for his mission trip. If you would like to help fund Blair Nix’s mission trip, you can visit a special fundraising page he has set up at HaYovel’s website, http://www.hayovel.com/fundraisers/blair-nix/
Blair is the son of Wendell and Carla Nix of Bainbridge. He is a 2012 alumnus of Bainbridge High School and he received his associate’s degree in landscape design from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton in December 2014.