Slain American Tourist Had Deep Ties to Israel

December 20, 2010 - 5:40 AM

Jerusalem (AP) - An American tourist killed in a forest outside Jerusalem had deep spiritual ties to Israel through her involvement with an evangelical ministry that promotes Christianity among Jews.

Kristine Luken, who was in her mid-40s, was stabbed to death Saturday while hiking with a friend. Israeli police had originally identified her as Christine Logan.

Luken was involved with the "Church's Ministry among Jewish people," first in the U.S., then in England, where she became a ministry staffer. The church is active in Israel.

On the CMJ American web site, Luken quoted inspirational poet Minnie Louise Haskins' words, "Go into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."

A 2007 study tour in Israel, "Walking with Jesus in his Jewish world," brought Luken to the church, she wrote on the site.

She and Kaye Susan Wilson, a naturalized Israeli from the U.K., became friends on a study tour to Poland earlier this year, the Rev. David Pileggi of CMJ's Christ Church in Jerusalem said Monday. Luken, an avid hiker, and Wilson, a professional tour guide, decided to go hiking together in Israel during Luken's Christmas holiday, he said.

On Saturday, the two headed for the wooded hills. Wilson told Israeli reporters from her hospital bed Sunday that she and Luken were attacked by two Arab men with what looked like a bread knife.

She said she escaped to a nearby road after pretending to be dead. Luken's body, hands bound and bearing multiple stab wounds, was discovered Sunday in the forest.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said authorities were treating the attack as politically motivated, while not ruling out that it could have been criminal.

The forest is inside Israel but close to the border with the West Bank and the Palestinian villages of Husan and Wadi Fukin.

No suspects have been taken into custody. There was no claim of responsibility, which suggests that the assault, even if politically motivated, was likely the work of individuals and not a militant group.

Don Stanley of the church's head office in Israel said he would put out a statement on behalf of the Luken family later in the day. He said the family did not want Luken's hometown disclosed.