*Due to the sensitive nature of Blake’s employment with United States Special Operations, we’ve withheld certain personal identifiers and are using a generic photo.

Blake first heard of Passages from our Executive Director Scott Phillips. Blake met Scott through some family friends, and while attending Liberty University, he was accepted into Passages for a 2016 trip on a multi-school bus. He always wanted to go to Israel and believed that every Christian should go.

“I asked, ‘what’s the catch?  This is too good to be true.’ A lifelong dream was turned into a tangible thing, so I took the opportunity,” Blake said.

After his first trip, he returned to Israel as a fellow to lead a bus from Regent University in the summer of 2017. He recalled fondly how Passages split the content between the geopolitical sphere and the spiritual side that “illuminates Scripture.”

The resilience of the Israeli people made an impact on him as he learned of their culture and history. He asserts that coming face to face with the land of Jesus was the most valuable aspect.

“I stood there…once you see it with your eyes then you know. It’s reality then,” Blake said.

During his first trip, Blake was in a spiritual lull, but on the Mount of Beatitudes, God reassured him that being in the spiritual valley was normal and that He would use that place to bring him to a position of strength.

On his second trip as a fellow, Blake recalls a specific moment sailing on the Sea of Galilee. The group from Regent University was having a time of worship, and the individuals leading began to sing Oceans by Hillsong UNITED.

As he worshiped, the words “Spirit lead me where your trust is without borders…” resonated with him, as he had been struggling with his decision to join the military and pursue a career in Special Operations. Being on the sea and singing that song confirmed his direction, and he knew the Lord was calling him to military service.

After the Navy rejected Blake for SEAL consideration, he felt the Lord leading him to the Air Force where he obtained a contract to serve in Air Force Special Warfare, Pararescue (PJ).

“The SEALs were so focused on killing, and here, the motto is ‘These things we do so that others may live.’ The training is geared toward saving people, and this is where I’m supposed to be,” Blake said.

Blake will graduate from the PJ training pipeline in January, will join his active duty unit, and spin up for deployment. We asked Blake if he had a message for his fellow Passages alumni.

He said, “I took a step of faith to enter a career that is terrifying, but I have never felt more at peace.  Don’t be afraid to do what makes you uncomfortable. God will be with you in that discomfort.”