Despite conflict, Burgess family heads to Israel

At a time when Israel is the last place in the world most would want to be, that’s exactly where radio talk show personality Rick Burgess and his family are headed.

The Burgess clan will board a plane later today to begin their journey to Israel, where they plan to spend the first anniversary of the death of their young son and brother, William Bronner Burgess.

Bronner, who was known as “Cornbread,” drowned at age 2 on Jan. 19, 2008, at the family’s home in Indian Springs.

“Given our reason for going, we have no concerns. The days of living in fear are over for our family,” Burgess said in a telephone interview this morning. “We feel we are being called there.”

Burgess and his family will be staying at the Baptist Village in Jerusalem. The only precautions they plan to take are those missionaries there take every day.

“This is so normal for them,” Burgess said. “(Missionaries) are always on alert. The only change we made in our trip was we would have gone to the Red Sea, but to get there we would have had to travel in an area parallel to the Gaza Strip, and they decided that’s probably not a good idea,” he said.

For almost a month, Israel has launched military strikes in Gaza against Hamas, which they say are in response to growing attacks against Israelis from that group.

“We’re staying out of the politics of it. Those of us who are followers of Christ know there is always going to be conflict there until God brings peace.”

Burgess said he never had a desire to go to Israel until his wife, Sherry, mentioned it as a possible destination for the family trip.

“As we approached this anniversary, my wife and I discussed how we as a family need some kind of getaway, need to go someplace where we can be as a family. I never had a pull to go to Israel. I just never had that spirit. But my wife mentioned Israel and when she said that, something clicked in our soul. It is like God has given us a burning,” he said.

Burgess said Israel, where “the Bible comes alive,” is the perfect place to be with his family on this anniversary.

“Let’s face it. You can be in God’s presence in Birmingham. God is present everywhere. However, Israel is a place that is special to him. It’s where he decided to be a man. He chose that race and chose that place,” he said.

“When our youngest son died, that changed everything. We were already followers of Christ. But in this, God revealed himself, not only to us, but also to people all over the world. So many lives have changed. So many people are seeing God in this and seeing what a loving and merciful God he really is. He has given us a peace that transcends all peace.”

Burgess is co-host of the Rick and Bubba Show with Bill “Bubba” Bussey. The Burgesses will be in Israel until Jan. 24.