First Baptist pastor headed to talks in Israel

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 5, 2000

The Rev. Eric Thomas, standing in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church Monday, left Tuesday morning on a trip to Israel in an attempt to establish peace in the Mideast. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

President Carter was able to get the nations of Egypt and Israel to quit fighting each other. President Clinton has been trying to get Israel and the Palestinians to do the same, but he’s had little luck.

Possibly, the Rev. Eric Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church, and a group of nine other Baptist ministers will be able to help.

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Thomas, who has been pastor of First Baptist for nearly three years, left Vicksburg Tuesday on a trip put together by Gary Frazier, president of Discovery Ministries.

“We will meet with officials in Israel,” Thomas said of the short trip to the Middle East. “We’ll meet with the mayor of Jerusalem, the president of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu,” the former prime minister of Israel.

The Friday meetings with the Israeli officials won’t be for any kind of negotiations, Thomas said. “We will just talk and pray with these people,” he said.

Thomas said he got the invitation to join the group over Thanksgiving and believes he was picked to join the trip because his family is acquainted with Frazier.

He was a bit uncertain just how the trip came about, but he speculated that Frazier must have become acquainted with some of the leaders of Israel while leading several tours to that part of the world over the past several years.

Thomas said he was flying from Jackson to Dallas, where he will meet some of the other members of the group. From there, they will fly to New York to meet the rest of the party. From there the flight will be to Frankfurt, Germany, and then to Tel Aviv. Once in Tel Aviv, they will travel to Jerusalem. He’s to be back in Vicksburg Saturday.

“They must have asked him to get together a group of pastors and preacher types to come and pray and meet with them,” Thomas said.

“I’m excited about going,” he said. “It is quite an opportunity to just sit across the table from these people.”

Thomas said he does not have any illusions about his group being able to do what diplomats and government leaders have been unable to do. But he has hopes.

“You never can tell what the power of prayer can accomplish,” he said.