Adedeji Olajide first heard about Passages while studying for his Master of Divinity at Azusa Pacific University in 2017. A friend of his had recently returned from a Passages trip and encouraged Adedeji to apply. After he was accepted and ready to go, he was most excited to visit Jerusalem and wasn’t disappointed.

“It was so impactful to drive up into Jerusalem with the sun setting and going into the Shabbat Dinner was incredible,” he said. “The energy that came from Shabbat was probably my favorite moment.”

Adedeji was concerned about embellished expectations having a negative impact on his trip, but while in Israel, his misconceptions were shattered. He came face to face with the real history of Jesus and of Israel.

“Trying to capture or explain what happened was challenging. People would ask how it went and trying to relay what happened to me was really challenging,” he said.

Returning home proved to be the most challenging aspect of the experience for Adedeji. He wanted to make sure he accurately shared the transformation that occurred and depict the reality of Israel’s multi-faceted nature to all who asked.

When asked what impacted him most, Adedeji said that it was easily the rich diversity in Israel.

“It was so cool to meet with Ethiopian Jews, Russian Jews, Arab Christians, and so on. I enjoyed learning how diversity enriches community,” he said. “Did I talk about food yet?” he said with a laugh. “I loved the food. I have to eat hummus a few times a week now.”

He became a Passages Leaders Network Ambassador because of the impact the trip with Passages had on him.

“What Passages did for me in providing the opportunity to travel to Israel, there was no way I could pay it back. So, I decided to pay it forward by providing opportunities for others to engage with Passages and Israel,” he said.

When asked what message he wanted to leave with his fellow alumni, Adedeji said, “In all your efforts and all the things your doing right now, regarding your purpose, whenever you meet resistance and want to give up, remember that greatness is just on the other side. In a time where people are divided by race, politics, and ideologies, now is the time for us to come together and march forward in unity.”