LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR
June 15, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
The telephone rang last Sunday afternoon and when I answered the familiar accent told me it was Jerusalem calling. The Israeli technical culture is so advanced that they do almost all their business by telephone. It was a call from a magazine salesman from a monthly I subscribe to. They call me regularly to try to get me to subscribe to an additional publication. They are always polite, and I was not busy so we conversed for about fifteen minutes about the Syrian situation and my future plans to visit Israel.
I shared with him my plans to visit Israel with my daughter Grace who is putting together a tour for January of 2014. The tour will include Jordan and a visit to Petra. The conversation brought back memories of many past trips to the land of the Bible which has been an important part of my ministry over the years.
Since the TV season has ended and reruns predominate the channels I went to the library of tapes and disks to find some uplifting, or at least entertaining, alternative to the program menu. As I perused the titles I came upon a DVD of my trip to Israel in 1992, about two years prior to my retiring from Franklin Union Baptist Church in Worthington in September of 1994. It was an outstanding adventure with good friends from the congregation and some additional friends from outside the congregation. On that trip we had along Ding Touling and his wife. Ding was a chalk artist who had been to the church for revival meetings and was deeply loved by our people. My Youth Minister from my past church in Urbana, Ohio was also with us.
I had just acquired a new video camera prior to the journey and was determined to record the entire adventure. I did not know at the time that my camera would be outdated within a few years of the purchase. Fortunately, when I came to Florida there was a gentleman in charge of our sound and video at the church who could transfer my tapes to a disk. With what he had to work with Walter did a splendid job.
It is hard to realize that that trip was taken twenty years ago. I have been back since, of course, but my last trip was in April and May of 2006 with my good friend and fellow church member James Strange. Jim is an archeologist who has worked years in Israel in cooperation with the University of South Florida where he teaches in the religion department.
I am aware that everyone cannot travel to Israel. However, the value of such travel is inestimable in concretizing the biblical story. To be on the scene where the events took place is a forceful reminder that the Bible is not just a story book. It is an accurate account of the acts of God in history for our good and our salvation. We have a group leaving from our congregation this month with Jim Strange. I will not be with them but I know they will come back with an enriched understanding of the Word of God and a new appreciation of the connection between the land and the book.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that if you are interested in traveling with Grace and me in January she is Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Belmar, NJ. Or, you know how to contact me. Brochures are available.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs