I have just finished 2 weeks of excavation in Israel. I am the administrative director of the Ai Expedition at Khirbet el-Maqatir and over the past 2 weeks we had some 50 people join us in digging an ancient site 10 miles north of Jerusalem, in the West Bank.
I know there has been quite a bit of turmoil in this region over the past week and the US State Department did send out a warning to Americans in Israel to be on alert for protests and demonstrations. But we did not have any problems or even see anything traveling to and from the West Bank, as well as spending about 8 hours working there on site daily. Just to keep things in perspective, I have always said that I might be safer over here than I am working in East Baltimore every day!
With the dig now history (although I still have some data to record and reports to write!), I just want to make a few observations. I guess the most significant insight I received this trip came from the many people I met here, from around the world, who have quietly been doing the particular ministry God has called them to do. They are generally not flashy nor will they probably ever garner any great attention – they are simply committed to serving the people whom God has called them to serve, and they are passionate about their calling. As we would talk, I have to say that it felt really good being involved in the ministry to which God has called me at Helping Up Mission – about which I, too, am passionate.
Secondly, I was struck by the number of twenty-and-thirty-somethings that I met and who are making serious commitments in their spiritual walk and service – both here in Israel and around the world. As a believer, I couldn’t help but feel like I was part of a massive worldwide movement ministering to the real needs of people and calling them into the same kind of personal relationship with Jesus that has changed our own lives.
Finally, I found lots of folks pleased and excited to hear about what we are doing at Helping Up Mission. They understand the need and believe in the same hope, answers and empowerment for men struggling with addiction that we do. They also would constantly ask what we are doing for the women(!) and I was very pleased to tell them about our organizational commitment to offer the same kind of ministry for women struggling with addiction.
It has been a rewarding past two weeks, and I am grateful for the opportunity to come and do this. Once again my own understanding on the Bible and confidence in its historic reliability and message has been strengthened. But I will remind you that archaeology doesn’t prove the Bible, it only demonstrates that we can trust it as historically reliable. The real proof that the Bible is God’s Word is the difference it makes in a person’s life - like what his happening to men at Helping Up Mission every day. It is time to get back home and do what I do in downtown Baltimore. I really do love my job!
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director
PS If you want to know more about the site where we are digging, take a look at our website – www.biblearchaeology.org.