Dr. Jerry Beavan
"Jerry Remembers" ... in which Jerry Beavan, at age 93, recounts events from his experiences in a wide ranging field of endeavors, which include being a college and seminary professor ... a corporate executive in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries ... a federal lobbyist in Washington, DC ... and as Billy Graham described him, "the architect of world evangelism as we know it today."
Now retired and physically handicapped, restricted to a wheel chair, Jerry has been Senior Editor of the weekly American News Commentary, now in its 10th year of publication.
I Remember My First Visit to the Holy Land
I remember so many things about my first of several visits to Israel—the "Holy Land," where so much of Biblical history occurred. Charlie Riggs, was —as I was—one of the Billy Graham team's "back room boys." We spent months, or sometimes years, doing the advance preparation work for the crusades. This trip was in preparation for Billy's ministry there in 1960.
I remember our first visit to Israel in 1959, while affairs in the region were still unsettled, following the Suez crisis of 1956. We entered and left via the Mandelbaum Gate, a check point between the Jordanian and Israeli division of Jerusalem, and I had difficulties because my residence, as shown in my passport, was Bethesda, Maryland—and the Arab officers insisted this was a Jewish community (John 5:2). It took quite some explaining on my part to convince them that this Bethesda was really an American city, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
To tour the area on our own, we hired a car and driver, who was also our guide. We became well acquainted, and agreed to use his services for several days. His name was Teddy Kollek, later to become the famed Mayor of Jerusalem for nearly 30 years. He was working as a guide in his spare time.
In recent years, Charlie (who is now with his Lord), and I recalled some of the events we shared there. Teddy took us to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed following the Last Supper. There is an olive tree under which tradition says He prayed, but I noticed that Charlie was in another part of the garden, taking pictures of another tree there. I told him that this was the spot—and his reply was, "The light's better over here."
We also visited the Dead Sea—where you are supposed to wade out into the heavy salt water, sit down ... and you just float. But Charlie ran at full speed and dove in, as you would at any pool or lake. He came up screaming with pain as the salt water burned his eyes. I led him to a crude shower where you were supposed to rinse, and ran the fresh water over his upturned face until the pain subsided. Even some 40 years later, as we recalled those events, we could still laugh about them.
And of course we went to Bethlehem to the Church of the Nativity, built on the place where Jesus was born, and to the site of His crucifixion—The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, of long standing tradition, and Gordon's Calvary and the Garden Tomb, of newer tradition. We spent hours each night, discussing the places we had visited that day, and relating them to the Scripture records of Jesus' life.
I have long been convinced that no Christian believer can visit the land where Jesus walked and ministered and taught, without experiencing a deeper appreciation of our Christian faith and beliefs. There is a hymn written by Canadian composer, Geoffrey O'Hara, which expresses this conviction: "I walked today where Jesus walked ... and felt His presence there."
If Iran, and Israel's other Islamic neighbors do not have their way, and if they do not follow through on their threat to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth ... and if the opportunity ever comes your way to visit the Holy Land—do so. It will deepen your understanding of the Christian life.