The History of The Obed Project

Jeanne speaks to a groupIn 1983, as Jeanne Corwin overlooked the city of Jerusalem for the first time she was keenly aware that the eyes of the Lord are ever upon His land. (Deut. 11:11-12) She prayed and asked to be used in the Lord’s plan for the restoration of the Jews to their land, the land that He loves, and for their restoration to the one, true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Since that pivotal moment in Jeanne’s life she has brought over forty groups of tourists to Israel. This is not an astronomical number, but it is amazing when you consider that Jeanne is neither a travel agent nor a professional tour leader. The other unusual thing about the groups that Jeanne brings to Israel is that they get to travel at a significantly reduced cost compared to typical tour groups. Additionally, through scholarships made possible by donations and offerings, The Obed Project helps “make a way where there is no way” for committed Christians who have a heart-felt interest in Israel to participate in one of our unique and educational service project tours even though they may not have the financial resources to do so themselves.

Numerous church mission committees have often contacted Jeanne about leading mission trips to Israel. However, in Israel traditional missions is neither effective, nor legal. And small wonder -Christianity throughout the centuries has been exceedingly cruel in its relations with the Jewish people. However, Jeanne sympathized with those Christians who wanted to show their support for Israel, their love for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their kinship with the Israeli people. The prophet Isaiah writes, “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land; and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.” (Isa. 14:1) As the first practical step in making her God-inspired dream a reality Jeanne began organizing church groups, and others, to travel to Israel. The focus of her tours was on “service” rather than “missions.” In structuring her tours, she was mindful that the Word of God admonishes all non-Jewish believers, saying, “For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of [Jewish] spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to [the Jews] in material things.” (Rom.15:27) Thus, The Obed project was born.

come to Israel!The vision for this unique kind of outreach reached puberty sixteen years later on the Mount of Beatitudes, in May 1999. The senior class of a local Christian school chose to spend their Senior Trip in Israel. If you have ever traveled overseas, you know that not all of the Earth’s inhabitants are as conscientious about litter as we are here in America. The same is true in Israel. Garbage can be found along the roadside, at picnic areas, even at popular tourist sites. There is a convent on the Mount of Beatitudes and the grounds of the convent are spotless. However, just beyond the gate, litter can be found in abundance. Seeing the need, the high-school seniors girded up their loins, spontaneously grabbed garbage bags, and began to clear away the trash. Soon, they looked up to find that other tour groups were pitching in and helping. By the time the ground was litter-free, many of the Israeli onlookers were in tears. Needless to say, the high-school seniors were amazed at the effect one simple sacrificial act had on both visitors to, and inhabitants of, the Land.

The Obed Project is named after the son of Ruth and Boaz. Obed’s story can be found in the book of Ruth. He is the father of Jesse, who was the father of David, and his name in Hebrew means both “service” and “worship.” Because The Obed Project seeks to promote the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through serving the people of Israel, the name Obed was the clear choice for our organization. The primary goal of The Obed Project is three-fold. It seeks to reveal God’s unfolding plan for the people of Israel; to facilitate the outworking of Biblical service to the Israeli people; and to educate Christians about the Hebraic heritage of their Faith. The typical Obed trip consists of a week of touring combined with in-depth teaching about the Hebraic roots of Christianity, followed by a period of service. Because different groups have different goals, talents, and interests, the Obed Project facilitates a variety of service projects, each unique to the particular group. These range from clean-up work, to assisting new immigrants, to working with holocaust survivors, to working with local orphanages. Another favorite, and often repeated, project is providing free dance clinics for Israeli children. There are also occasional tours that travel the Land from Dan to Beer Sheva praying for the protection of the Israeli people, for the fruitfulness of the land, and for the peace of Jerusalem.

Israeli flag on MasadaNow that The Obed Project has reached maturity, an additional element has been added. In keeping with God’s heart, we too desire that “the hearts of the fathers will be turned to the children, and the children to the fathers.” (Mal.4:6) Participants do not hand out Christian literature. Instead, they are committed Christians who have a heart-felt desire to work side-by-side with Israelis and thus demonstrate their faith in the “One New Manî” concept. (Eph. 2:13-16) Tour participants acknowledge the mystery that “blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles is come in.” (Rom. 11:25) Of course, any time an individual gives freely and sacrificially on behalf of someone else, the question of motive invariably comes up. The idea that our service is truly motivated by our love of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our support of Israel as a nation, and our genuine desire to better understand the Jewish people impacts everyone in significant and mighty ways. All of us involved with The Obed Project recognize the biblical maxim that we are no longer “aliens” and “strangers from the covenants of promise,” but are now “grafted-in to the commonwealth of Israel” and thus have a God-ordained obligation to bless Abraham’s seed.