A Trip To IsraelDigging in the dirt in Jerusalem was definitely an experience I hope to repeat! I had the privilege of attending Geneva’s most recent biennial tour held in late December through early January 2012. The trip is the culmination of a course in biblical archeology taught by Dr. Byron Curtis, Dr. Scott Shidemantle, Dr. Dean Smith and Dr. Jonathan Watt, esteemed professors in Geneva’s Bible Department. We visited the traditional sites of the Bible lands, considered significant Bible passages, learned about the climate and the people, walked the streets of Jerusalem, and even participated in an archeological dig on the Mount of Olives.
As a pastor at the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, it was a joy for me to see “up close and personal” the life and ministry of Geneva College. It was sobering to stand beside members of my congregation as Dr. Watt considered the agony of our Lord seated among the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. The professors who team-taught the course were now bringing the words of Scripture to life in a way nothing else could.
Equally thrilling was enjoying the fellowship of the 14 college students who made the trip and watching their excitement for learning. Students and professors would often be pawing in the dirt side-by-side around the base of a biblical site looking for small archeological finds. The students’ excitement was especially evident on the last day of the tour at the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation. Small finds of a piece of bone, a piece of pottery, mosaic tile or a rusted nail were a treasure to them because it represented a semester’s worth of learning and certainly part of the reason they had come all the way to Israel.
Even far from home and their college campus, the students were great ambassadors for Geneva College. The professors were knowledgeable, spiritual and insightful, making the trip even more valuable! In God’s providence, I hope to participate in the next trip to Israel and to be joined by other members of my congregation to walk in the footsteps of our Lord.
-Pastor Rich Johnston