This article is part of a series dedicated to Dr. David Livingston, in recognition of his accomplishments in defending the reliability and inerrancy of the Bible, and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of his founding of the ABR ministry. This History of ABR was written in 2003 by Esther Livingston, David's wife.
In memory of those board members who put forth effort, time, prayers, funds, and were the rock on which this work was based; To these, who have now gone on to their reward in Glory, I would like to give special recognition; Mr David Livingston, Sr., Dr. Jim Reid, Dr. Don Delancey, Dr. Gene Stutt, Rev. Jack Levin, Mr. Jack Scott, Rev. Walter Kenyan and Dr. George Rhine.
It has been thirty-four years since the conception of ABR. Perhaps it is time to record the scenario which was taking place at that time, the burden that lay on the heart of the founder, the struggles and blessings that accompanied those early days, until Associates for Biblical Research was finally put-in-place as a workable organization. But before I tell about ABR—let us back up a few years and tell about the man who had the vision for "ABR."
The following, about David Livingston, the founder, was taken from an old ABR Newsletter: "During WWII while in the navy, David received Christ as Saviour and felt God's call to Christian ministry. He and his wife, Esther, were married in 1950. They have three children, and 11 grandchildren. After college and seminary they served with The Evangelical Alliance Mission in Korea for 10 years (5 as president of Eastern Korea Christian College on Korea's east coast.) He pastered churches both before and after mission service for 9 years. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of America.
"In 1969 he founded ABR in Philadelphia and has been Director since (except for 2 years on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ), he has conducted more than 50 institutes on both Biblical Archaeology and Creation/Evolution as well as having spoken hundreds of times in schools and churches. He has taught College courses in El Cajon, CA. as well as at Reformed Episcopal Seminary. He has also taught modular courses in several Bible schools and seminaries in France, Sweden, Germany and Norway. He is director of our Israel excavations and has conducted more that 20 digs and tours (more now) in the mideast."
David Livingston-Korean Missionary
1965―Kang Nung, Korea. We were missionaries on the east coast city of Kang Nung, next to the Sea of Japan, Dave was president (Hak Jang) of Kwan Dong Teh Hak (Eastern Korea Christian College)—situated between the steep, rugged mountains in Kang Won Do and the ocean. It was the garden spot of Korea. We loved it! He was given the responsibility by the mission to take a Bud¬dhist college and turn it into a Christian college! Which was only accomplished by God's grace and, not without struggles and heartaches. At times we were the only Americans in the area, and Dave would come home from the college, look in the mirror to see if he was Korean or American! But—the hardest part was having to send our children, Beth, David and Tommy, to boarding school in Seoul —a sacrifice the mission required of us in order to continue this work.
We loved the students and especially the professors. One favorite was the history professor, Mr Choi. He spent hours sharing Korean history and taking us on trips around the countryside to see "Old Korea." We collected books and read about their ancient history—and were fascinated.
One summer afternoon when the children were home on vacation, Dave decided to put up a tether-ball set we had received as a gift from the U.S. While digging the "hole for the pole," strange-looking pottery began coming up with each spade of yellow-clay.
He stopped, examined it, and finally exclaimed, "Ha! This looks like the pottery that Professor Choi showed us. He said it was VERY old!"
This was Friday night—on Monday when he returned to the college he told Mr. Choi who was VERY excited and, accompanied by several other professors came back to our house with Dave to see this hole and the pottery that had come out of it!
It was pouring rain—they were dressed in their suits, ties and shiny black shoes (typical dress for professors.) Dave gathered up all the Korean umbrellas he could find (heavy-brown, oiled paper over a frame) and they stood in the muck and dug shovel after shovel of pottery-laden dirt out of the hole. Mr. Choi did, indeed, declare that we had found the oldest pottery ever discovered in Korea-old Stone Age—3000 years old!
Well—without going into any more detail you can imagine what happened next. We began "digging-digging-digging" until after a years' time we had a substantial square 13 by 23 feet, which we were to discover was an ancient "stone-age" subterranean house.
Was God using such a simple thing as the tether-ball to change direction in our lives? For now the beginning of Dave's fascination with archaeology was launched and there was no stopping. Out of this excavation came a museum in the college with dozens of old stone-age artifacts—perfect stone knives, axes, plates, arrowheads, charred grain, pottery, and much more. He would come home from the college and he, the kids and I (even the dog who insisted on digging holes!) would run out behind the house with our tools and dig, stopping only to eat and go to bed! The next morning our ajimoni (helper—cook, and housekeeper) would come in to fix breakfast and find old, OLD pottery—washed and draining in the sink and had FITS, and exclaim, "Just WHAT do vou want BROKEN pots for???"
There were many problems at the college just then—firing of dishonest professors, changing board members; the mayor and other officials in the community were questioning Dave and his Korean co-workers continually and even threatening them. He was interrogated by the "Mun Kyo Bu" (Department of Education from Seoul), CIA, CID and several other departments! At times he feared physical retaliation! It was during those most difficult days that we were digging on our stone-age house. But, we could forget all the troubles in the college with the anticipation of what we would find in our hole. It was as if the Lord gave us "a way to escape" so that we could endure the stress. Interestingly, within a year we finished the project and the problems at the college were over and, from then on, everything ran smoothly. We developed good relationships with the city officials—even the provincial governor—entertained them in our home and became great friends. Those years at the college were difficult, yet, some of the most profitable years of our lives.
But always before us was the problem of having to send our children to boarding school. Just before the last year of our second term (a term was usually 5 years) the children's housemother in Seoul unexpectedly returned to the states and there was no one to take her place. Therefore, since our three were the only ones boarding that year it was decided that I would leave Kang Nung and live in Seoul with the children and Dave would remain in Kang Nung to run the college! There seemed to be no other alternative—and it was a heart-breaking situation. I was miserable—Dave was miserable—but at least I was with the kids. It was extremely hard on him to be alone.
The children and I flew back home to Kang Nung during Thanksgiving vacation and spent it in the mountains at our little cabin on Teh Gwal Yung on the college's mountain property. It was beautiful —the rugged mountains were covered with the first snow of the winter season. Our water¬fall next to the kitchen (where we washed our dishes) was frozen at night, but we snugggled under warm "ebals" on our hot floors and enjoyed being together. We gathered mistletoe—our son, Tommy, climbed a huge, ancient, oak tree and brought down handfuls of beautiful foliage covered with berries. We even cut down a lovely fir tree to take back to Seoul for Christmas. (When we returned to our home at the college we put the mistletoe in a bucket of water to keep it fresh—the next morning we heard clucking, chirping and gobbling and ran out and discovered our turkeys, which had the run of our yard, had gobbled all the berries—all we had left were leaves! Well—anyway, the fun was in the picking!) The children and I returned to Seoul and two weeks later, Dave drove over the rugged mountains to Seoul, bringing the tree, what was left of the mistletoe and one of our own turkeys—butchered and cleaned. That was quite a Christmas—different from the ones spent in Kang Nung with our Korean friends; caroling in the middle of the night and returning in the wee hours of the morning for a breakfast at the church; coaching Christmas plays and decorating with the college students—friends and experiences we would never forget!
Ahhhhh—it was foreordained that we would NOT have guests for Christmas dinner that year!!!
I arose early to put the bird in the oven. I stuffed the back-end—but couldn't find the cavity for stuffing the neck. In due time we sat down to eat, hungrily anticipating the bird setting before us!
We laughed as Dave began to carve, "Our own bird—fattened on mistletoe berries!"
"They are supposed to be poisoness to eat, you know!"
"Then WHY didn't the turkeys die?" And Dave proceeded to spoon out nice, brown dressing from the NECK!
"This looks like delicious corn-meal dressing!"
"Dave—I didn't make corn-meal dressing!"
He paid no attention, but continued to dish it up! I arose from my chair and picked up the bird and quickly returned it to the kitchen. He followed, bewildered—"What's the matter?"
"Dave, I DIDN'T stuff the neck!"
"Oh, then what IS THIS?" We looked at each other and immediately realized (having grown up on farms) that what he was dishing out was the turkey's LAST meal—still sitting undigested in the craw! Need I say more? I cut off some of the breast meat, but couldn't eat it myself. It was a Christmas I'd ALWAYS remember!
That evening, after dinner and gifts and the children had gone to bed, Dave told me that he had something to talk over with me. He had been inquiring into the possibility of attending a school in Israel on our coming furlough. The winter session was to begin in late January.
"What would you think if we got permission to leave early, in January, and go to Israel to study at the American Institute of Holy Land Studies?"
I was in shock—but it didn't take long to make a decision as to whether I was interested or not! The thought of leaving the college and friends behind, with whom we'd become as close as family, was hard—but living in Seoul without Dave was worse! Who can say, was it a combination of these circumstances that led us to change direction in our lives, to serve the Lord in a different way than we had planned?
"I've been president of this college now for almost five years, and have no degree other than college (B.S.) and seminary (M.Div.) If I'm going to continue I need to at least have an M.A, I don't even have as much education as my own professors!"
Well—the logistics took a bit to work out with the college and mission—but it finally came together and before we knew we were "off to see the world" on our way to Israel. We had been planning to return home the long way—around the world, and had been saving birthday and Christ¬mas gifts so we could afford to supplement what the mission provided. And so, that January we said our goodbyes, tearfully, not knowing when we would return, and set off for Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and lastly Israel, staying with missionary friends along the way.
Once Dave had asked me what I wanted to see more that anything in the world!
"Petra in Jordan. What do you want to see?" (I had read about it in the National Geographic Magazine.)
"I want to stand on Mt. Nebo (in Jordan) and see what Moses saw!" We both got our wishes granted. And after going through Jordan we ended up in East Jerusalem (which was at that time Jordanian) crossed on foot through the Mendelbaum Gate, hand carrying all our luggage, and ar¬rived—prepared for a new adventure at the Institute of Holy Land Studies. We were met by Dr. Douglas Young who ran the school, and immediately at home anticipating new surroundings and experiences!
It was a wonderful six months. Because there were only a few students, our son, David, and I were invited to study Hebrew with the rest of the class. Our whole family was able to accompany them on their "tiules" (study and sightseeing trips) and saw Israel from Dan to Beersheba besides hearing all the lectures while on these trips. On weekends we literally saw Israel on foot! We had an apartment across from the Israel Museum and The Monastery of the Cross and spent many Sunday afternoons examining the archaeological finds exhibited there. The Bible came alive for us, and the joy of being together as a family and living in Israel was more than we had ever anticipated.
It was while Dave was attending lectures at the Institute that a visiting professor, while describing Joshua's Conquest and the battle of Ai made the statement, "It sounds from the Bible like it really happened—but we know it didn't because there is NOTHING archaeologically to prove it!"
Dave was hit broadside with this statement! "If the Bible is not reliable in this story—how do we know it's reliable in any of it!!!" He worked this over and over in his mind for months. His professor was so positive that "El-Tell" was Ai and the Bible story was inaccurate! After a while it occurred to Dave, "How do we KNOW that el-Tell is Ai, and what if the mistake is in archaeology??? Are we to believe man rather than the Word of God?"
"But we know the Bible has to be wrong because archaeology proves it!" That was the reaction when Dave posed the question—always circular reasoning.
It was now 1967. We returned to the states and Dave continued to study at Trinity Divinity School and obtained his M.A. in Biblical Studies the next year. By now his desire for more educa¬tion was strong—and we still had the problem of our children's schooling in Korea if we returned. He applied and got permission from our mission to take a leave of absence and continue studies in Philadelphia at Dropsie University (Jewish School of Hebrew and Cognate Learning) working toward his PhD. This was the beginning of living in Pennsylvania and where we would remain for the rest of our lives. We were now responsible to support ourselves, but almost immediately Dave was offered a position as Assistant Pastor of a large Presbyterian Church in Huntingdon Valley, a suburb of Philly and, at the same time worked toward his Ph.D.
For the next two years Dave was plagued with arguments from liberal and Jewish professors who were extremely knowledgeable in the field of Archaeology and Old Testament, yet unconvinced of the veracity of the Bible. For him it was a time of soul searching— "Is the Bible REALLY true? If so how can I know? What if it isn't? How can I prove it?" No longer was it possible to believe blindly—he needed to know for sure in his own heart. So often he returned to that same old ques¬tion, "Was there really a conquest? If so, why isn't there proof archaeologically?" The feeling kept returning to him, "Is it possible they have mistaken the identity of Ai? What if the archaeology was wrong and the ancient cities of Bethel and Ai were actually located in some other place?"
BUT the answer from the scholars was always "Bethel IS at Beitin, so Et-Tell is the ONLY logical place for Ai!" They would not consider any other explanation other than the Bible was wrong! AND worse, for those who were Bible believers—most didn't know enough about the problem to even discuss it!
Feeling strongly about its importance, he had examined the problem of the location of BOTH Bethel and Ai in depth. By our second Christmas at the Huntingdon Valley Church they had become so interested in his struggle for answers that he was given permission to return to Israel and tromp over the hills to investigate an area where there just might be another site with "ruins" of a lost city from Joshua's time!
Christmas Day, 1967, he telephoned from Israel, "I have found some very interesting ruins— the Israel Dept. of Antiquities didn't even know they existed!" He had been climbing over hills and valleys in mud and pouring down cold rain for a couple weeks! He had studied the geography, the Bible story thoroughly, re-enacting it over and over, until he had a picture in his mind of exactly how the terrain should look. Finally, exhausted, in pouring-down rain, he climbed over a hill, and there was a small tell—exactly where he had pictured it should be! In walking over the site he gathered up dozens of pieces of broken pots—then sat down with Moshe Kohavi (well-known Israeli archaeologist and teacher from the Institute) who checked the pottery. Dave was quite ex¬cited with the time-periods represented and felt it worth following up.
After his return to the states he put together an article for The Westminster Theological Journal presenting his case for a new location for both Bethel and Ai, Dr. Anson Rainey, his Historical Geography teacher and good friend while in Israel, disagreed with him adamantly and rebutted his proposition in the next issue. Dave was then given the opportunity to refute Dr. Rainey, and thus began a controversy among biblical scholars as to the accuracy of biblical geography.
As he shared his research, he was encouraged by friends to pursue "looking for the lost city of Ai," What if he could convince the Israeli Dept. of Antiquities to let him have a dig? He had been on several while studying at the Institute and felt he knew what it entailed. But, to do so, he would need an organization to back him. Thus, the conception of ABR began to take shape, not just to "dig" but to gather together scholars who would combine their research to solve other problems as well.
Dave, nervous about jumping into such a big project, discussed the possibility of an organization with close friends. How would he have time? How would he support the family and still continue his studies and begin a new organization! Who would be convinced it was worthwhile?
Finding a Name!
One evening after we had eaten supper together with some friends, Dave was sharing his vision for starting a new organization with an emphasis of solving biblical problems "for the purpose of strengthening faith among believers who were having problems believing the Bible to be true." Having gone through a period of soul-searching himself Dave could understand why our young people, college students especially, were having a hard time coming up with answers—at the same time bombarded with professors and critics who were trying to tear down their faith.
These men and their wives, sitting with us in our living room, drinking coffee and chatting, had been friends for a long time, the men having been in seminary together in the early '50s. One of them, Dr. Jay Adams, had pastored a church in Eighty-Four, Pa. (When he left, the church which had been the first to support us as missionaries in Korea in '56, called Gene Fackler as their next pastor.)
"What would you call this organization?" One of them asked. Several names were bandied about—finally one suggested, "How about Biblical Research Associates?"
"Sounds great—how would you shorten it? You know these organizations all get known by a label."
"No problem— 'BRA'." And then it dawned on us what it spelled. Everyone laughed! "No, I don't think so!"
"Well—" said Jay, "let's turn it around—what about Associates for Biblical Research?" And the name stuck—it has been ABR ever since!!!
Beginning Days of the Organization
And thus, ABR was named by a well-known Christian leader, and soon was to be activated with a board of godly men with a burden for establishing the truth through the scriptures, encouraging the weak in their faith and building up the church, using scientific research for the purposes of evangelism. Without them ABR wouldn't be here today.
In September, 1969, Dave sent his first letter on behalf of this new project.
"As you know, we studied in Israel three years ago. While there, we were confronted with many problems in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. So, in order to complete my M.A. requirements I decided to put God's "Word to the test and selected the toughest book I could find written by a 'new-evangelical' who attempts to demonstrate that the Bible is filled with error. As I examined the evidence for his proof of mistakes, it became obvious that his whole case was built on sand. Not only that, I began to discover that some long-accepted historical 'facts' needed rethinking in light of recent discoveries. In other words, where the Bible and history books disagree, there is now evidence the history books may be wrong. All this research reassured me that the Bible is God's inerrant Word. (The book and author? The Inspiration of Scripture, written by Dewey Beagle, who had been a fellow student with Milt Fisher, under W. F. Albright at John's Hopkin's University in the late 40s.)
"At the same time, an idea began to grow that a team of evangelical scholars, proceeding on the premise that the Bible is inerrant, could help in breaking the liberal 'establishment's' strangle¬hold on Old Testament scholarship while producing some refreshing new insights on the Bible. The result is that we have now formed a non-profit corporation called the 'Associates for Biblical Research.'"
In July, 1970, the following statements were published in the Associates for Biblical Research Newsletter; "The Associates for BR is a non-profit organization dedicated to upholding the inerrancy of Scripture while carrying on the following activities:
— Investigate positions which seem to contradict the Bible.
— Publish results in technical and lay magazines.
— Use archaeology, science and Bible to present the Gospel to unbelievers.
— Teach seminars in churches and schools, at home and abroad.
— Seek out and help selected young students in study programs.
— Conduct archaeological digs and study tours in the Near East
Why was it organized? "In our day, especially, youth are being bombarded with information which gives the impression that the Bible is filled with error, and therefore not a trustworthy guide for life. We feel contrariwise, that it is Absolute Truth the only REAL authority for life here and hereafter. Not only so, we are convinced that the truthfulness of God's Word extends even to scientific information and historical events. And that this truthfulness can be demonstrated by the very methods used in scientific and historical research. Our desire is to help restore confidence in the inerrancy of the Bible."
The doctrinal basis- The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety is the Word of God written, and therefore inerrant in the autographs.
Dave resigned as Assistant Pastor of the Huntingdon Valley Church and became the director of ABR. We felt like we were jumping out of an airplane without a parachute! BUT we had done this before, so ... well... here goes ....
Board of Directors
The first board was composed of:
Rev. Walter Kenyon, a very successful and loving shepherd whose church had supported us as missionaries while we were in Korea.
Dave's dad, David Sr., a successful business man who had traveled much in Israel and in Arab countries on business ventures, and with his expertise aided in the initial organizing.
Rev. Jack Levin,, a Jewish believer, the director of "Jewish Evangelism Inc." and experienced in starting a faith-based work.
Mr. Richard Harris, a local Christian business-man, and leader in Christian circles.
Mr. Jack Scott, another successful business man from the Huntingdon Valley Church, with a heart for the Lord, and burden to see our organization grow and be successful.
Mr. Everette Meeker, a lawyer and friend who had been an associate with Dave's grandfather in his law office in Iowa. He was able to guide the board through the organizing process and, establish ABR as a tax-free foundation.
Rev. Dick Foster, whom we had known first as a GI in Korea, organizer and leader of "Back Home Fellowship" a large organization in Korea, to encourage Christian GIs and evangelize oth¬ers. He and his wife, Dee, together had led a number of tours to Israel by this time. He was the pastor of Rhawnhurst Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Dick was added to the board in '70.
All were very knowledgeable men who supported, encouraged, prayed and directed Dave in those beginning years. How we thank God for each of them. They were more than a board, they were our best friends. The board meetings were a time of fellowship, besides work, with a meal which included wives, sharing and caring and praying with each other. Several had to travel a long way, and we were grateful for their sacrifice in order to see ABR take shape.
Jack Levin, one of our first board members, with his Orthodox Jewish background was most helpful in Old Testament research. Sometimes when in the Philadelphia area he would drop in for a chat.
"Jack, how about staying for supper?" I asked him many-a-time. He would first sniff at the aroma emanating from the kitchen and answer according to what his nose told him!
"And just what is that dee-licious smell?" Once he recognized it as ham and groaned. "And how is it that everytime I come you are cooking either ham or bacon?" He would NOT eat pork!
He was quite a heavy man, as you will see! The following incident happened in the middle of a board meeting when they were into a very heavy discussion around the table. He was sitting on the end chair and raised his pencil and waved it, "The point is ... is .. ." and then in horror, while everyone watched, he began to sink... slowly ... lower and lower. The rest of the men watched in shock, uncomprehending, until a loud crackling noise reached their ears and finally there was a loud crash as Jack and the chair crumbled into a heap on the floor! Everyone jumped—ran over to help him but the chair had folded over his head.
Well... he was ok, a bit shook up, but the chair was now a pile of kindling! Tho’ they tried hard it was impossible not to laugh—and when everyone erupted with laughter the ladies in the other room came to see what had happened and laughed along with them! He was ok, and a good sport— but my poor antique chair that had belonged to Dave's great-Aunt Mame years previously, wasn't! Nor was I!
Wally Kenyon, (Rev. Walter) was a long-time friend. Dave had pastored a United Presbyterian church in a small town near Pittsburgh (Taylorstown) while in seminary. We lived in the manse and one day entertained Wally, who was a pastor in a church nearby, for lunch. We recognized in him a wise counselor, and when we decided to go to Korea as missionaries his church was one of the first to support us. He and his lovely wife, Mary, had ten children of their own and adopted another—all of whom are now serving the Lord in some capacity; the six boys are all pastors.
Two more men became board members within a short time; Dr. Milton Fisher, who with his wife Merilyn, had been missionaries in Ethiopia for 12 years. We had known Milt and Merilyn since the time both men were in seminary at Pittsburgh Xenia (United Presbyterian) in ‘51. In fact we lived in the same apartment house. We'd been married one year and had our first—Beth. They were newly-weds and had a new washing machine. And since we had none, let us use it—as long as we didn't wash diapers in it! We had remained in contact all the time they were missionaries in Ethiopia which was the same time we were in Korea.
Dave, in an Oct '69 letter says this about Milton, "He is an old friend. He served with his family as a missionary to Ethiopia with the U.P. hoard; after returning to the V.S. earned his doctorate at Brandeis Univ. and now teaches at Reformed Episcopal Seminary. He knows four Ethiopia lan¬guages and was in charge of the missionary language program because of his ability. He now uses these languages plus Arabic, Hebrew, Ugaritic and Akkadian to discover new meaning in many Bible passages .... Who would be more qualified to be on board than Milt?"
A new friend who became a board member was Ron Zuck, missionary with Christian Literature Crusade. With his knowledge of printing, publishing, and expertise in those new contraptions called "computers" he became indispensable! He was able to "scrounge" our first—a big desk-sized machine—that gave you the creeps when you typed out something and it answered you back! Only a bit less than human.
By the winter of 1969 several evangelical scholars in the area had become "Associates" and were actively involved in public meetings in schools, seminaries and churches. ABR had become tax-exempt in November and was receiving contributions. Dave's prayer request in the December newsletter reflected his desire: "That our research will bear eternal fruit, not gather dust on library shelves!”
Dr. James Kelso of Pittsburgh Seminary (Dave's former professor) was a great encouragement to ABR, and in a letter (12/12/69) made this remark, "Remember that Scripture does not need defense, it needs only enlightenment."
In 1970 ABR organized their first tour of Israel. And although there would be many to follow, this first one was VERY memorable! For Dave and me it was significant because we had not been there since the '67 war and were able to see many biblical sites we hadn't seen before. We walked the street where the old "Mendelbaum" gate and wall had been, and were a bit disoriented to say the least! As we walked up the hill to St. Andrews, the Anglican Church, and looked across the valley to Mt. Zion I remembered sitting there at daybreak, on Easter morning, '66, and hearing the church bells ring oil Mt Zion and thinking how I'd love to be over there!
What a tour that was! Our guides were exceptional—"Walking Michael" and "Driving Michael" (Armenian Christians) recommended to us by Rev. Dick Foster, board member. Besides regular sites they took us in vans to out-of-the-way, obscure places, quoting scripture as we went! What a team!
Board member, Rev. Wally Kenyon and his wife, Mary, were with us, and a valuable asset. He, having wonderful insights into the scriptures, led in devotions and on the side—counseled several with personal problems. He also served as a buffer between the pre-mils and a-mils and probably kept them from killing one another! Even Mary counseled and prayed with a lady she met while we were staying in the Anglican Church Hostel, married to a Muslim from Iran (as his second wife) and had been kicked out of her home because she had become a Christian. The children had been taken away from her, and she was literally thrown out w/o any money! Mary helped sooth the ruffled feathers of another tour member who was disgruntled with the food and hotels. Who, by the time we reached Athens was so sick and tired of "rocks and more rocks" refused to climb up on the Parthenon, but stayed in the van and sulked! Mary, several times, comforted me when I became hyper, saying, "Esther—calm down, everything will be just fine and it will all work out!"
My dear Aunt Maud was also one of our tour members and, this little white haired lady was a joy to have along—until we lost her in the Old City! We had walked with the group down the road and into our hotel and later that evening, several hours later in fact, discovered that Aunt Maud was missing! I was almost in hysterics as the whole group fanned out and went all over the old city looking for her. We had the police looking—and finally one of our members met a little Arab boy who said, "Are you the ones looking for a little old lady with white hair in a lavender dress? She's sitting over there on the wall!" And sure 'nuf she was sitting on an ancient wall dangling her legs, unconcerned!
"Who says I'm lost—and WHO is that LITTLE OLD LADY with WHITE HAIR everyone is looking for???? I'm NOT an old lady! That little boy asked me, but I told him I had NO IDEA who he could be talking about!" What a relief to find her and from then on we ALWAYS counted the number of folk we had EVERYWHERE we went. Well, almost always, that is. On another trip we left someone behind at Tel Megiddo—didn't miss him until a couple hours later!!! He was ok, I was frantic!
Newsletter, New Board Members and Staff
By the '70s the newsletters, free and two pages, were loaded to the last sentence with current news items having to do with the latest discoveries and opinions, short pertinent articles in both science and archaeology. "Associates" were sending us information from magazines and newspa¬pers as soon as they came out. Dave in a letter wrote, "Opportunities for research, outreach with the Gospel and services to churches are increasing. The financial report was cause for thanksgiving—with 3/4 of the contributions from regular donors." (March '71)
In 1971 Dr. Jim Reid became involved as an "Associate" and eventually became a board member. One of Dave's seminars was held at the 3rd Reformed Presbyterian Church, where Rev. Gene Fackler was the pastor. Gene and Sally had been friends since '61 when we had visited their church while on furlough from Korea. Now Gene and Sally were living in Philadelphia, (only five miles away from us!) where he was pastoring his third church. He was helping ABR with the newsletters and brochures and would eventually come on ABR staff.
Other new board members were added from time to time; Rev. Tom Marsh, pastor of a Methodist church we were attending in Prospectville, an ardent supporter; and Dr. Austin Robbins, originally a missionary in Africa and had become Professor of Dentistry at the University of Pa.
At this time ABR was two-fold in it's research and outreach—Archaeology and Creationism. Since Dave had graduated with a degree in Science from Wheaton College in '49, he was interested in refuting evolution. Now, along with archaeology, he included Creationism in seminars. Interest in the organization was growing—there were many invitations to speak in churches, schools, and homes—these were exciting days, watching ABR grow.
Another interesting activity of ABR was the meetings of the 'fellows." This was a group of scholars, professors, students in colleges and seminaries, who met together twice a month to hear a presentation and then discuss it. These meetings became VERY lively! One I vividly remember was one of the "fellows" (now Dr.) Bob Newman, presenting his theories on the age of the earth based on his expertise in astronomy. Sparks flew between o!d-earthers and young earthers!
Then Don Rogers became involved—Don and his wife had been missionaries in the Philipines, and while ministering there had dealt with cultic and demon-possessed natives. They had returned to the states and he was researching the cults for answers. This introduced a third prong of research in ABR.
ABR had two lovely, charming young ladies, who played an important role on our board. Both were from the Huntingdon Valley U.P. Church; Jean Saylor, whose expertise was in bookkeeping and business, kept us on track as the organization grew; and Rene Serajian, a lawyer, guided us in legal matters. Our daughter, Beth, also served as secretary-bookkeeper. Several ladies from the H.V. Church volunteered putting out mail, writing letters, keeping records and finances, especially Mrs. Isabelle Jones, and Jean Scott, (wife of board member, Jack) who headed up and trained volunteers. All was going well, so why should we leave what appeared to be a successful, on-going operation and go into...
Campus Crusade for Christ
By now we were into the '70s and you know the saying, "Once a missionary, always a missionary!" Dave had been involved with a group of zealous men in an organization "Christ for Eastern Pa." who met together, weekly, in prayer for revival in Philadelphia. He was becoming interested in more direct evangelism—eager to see souls won for Christ. Our children were in high school and college and bringing home young people in trouble and having Bible Studies in our home. It was exciting—because we saw results through their direct witnessing and follow up. In '72 we attended Campus Crusade Expo in Dallas, Texas. While there we were invited to join staff full-time in the Lay Ministry in the Philadelphia area. It was a time of spiritual renewal for both of us, bringing us back to teaching basics like; How to Know You are a Christian, How to Know and Experience God's Love and Forgiveness, How to Love by Faith, How to be Filled With the Spirit, How to Share Your Faith, etc.
Dave was excited for he felt he could combine the work of ABR with direct evangelism—each feeding and strengthening the other. Alas—it did not work out that way! The first thing CCC did was ask him to drop his work with ABR! It was a hard decision, but at this time we requested of the board a temporary replacement as director—in order to get our priorities straight as to what the Lord would have us do!
As it worked out, board member, Dr. Jim Reid, space scientist, author of several books on the subject, and enthusiastic in the work of ABR was asked to take over as director. Jim's main interest and expertise was in the field of Creationism and, had been writing, speaking and was quite active in this field. He took over the newsletter (still going out to about 500 members) and now the emphasis was more on Creationism. It was discovered that there was almost more interest in this than archaeology! Churches, parents, and school teachers were responding enthusiastically—for here they recognized problems they faced daily, in schools, newspapers, TV, and were unable to answer questions when thrown at them.
We appreciated having an evangelistic outreach during our time with CCC, and during Expo '74, in Korea, Dave was asked to become one of three coordinators, which meant spending the summer in Seoul—making preparations and finally helping during the campaign itself. This was a double blessing, for not only were we able to return to the country where we had lived and worked for 10 years, but it just happened that our son, David III who had been no.l in the draft lottery was now stationed in Korea, and we were able to live together for those three months. The thrill of sitting in the bleachers and seeing a million people from all over the world gather for the evening rallies, and 320,000 Koreans, plus another 3000 foreigners in intense training in the daytime was awesome, and a wonderful way to culminate our work in CCC.
And, yes—although we didn't realize it then, we were in our last days with CCC. We had been asked to consider an overseas assignment in Eastern Europe, working behind the Iron Curtain! They wanted us because of our overseas, missionary background, and because we were older and more experienced. Did we REALLY want to do that? We had heard from European CCC staff about the strain they had lived under—traveling underground from Vienna over the border and back again!
We had lived almost ON the DMZ in Korea for 9 years—and experienced first hand tension with Communist guerillas in our area and every spring the threat of North Korea invading South Korea. For us communism was REAL and, although the prospects were challenging, I wasn't sure I wanted to live that close to it again!
We returned to the states the first of September, faced with having to make a decision as to what the Lord would have us do at this time—whether to go to Europe—(Dave also had an invitation from Greater European Mission to teach in one of their schools in either France or Germany); he'd also considered returning to a pastorate, OR returning to ABR. That autumn, while contemplating these options before us, Jim became very ill with cancer and died.
In the January '75 newsletter, which Dave had put out after Jim's death, he writes, "How we will miss Jim Reid! He was an inspiration to all of us on the board of ABR as we saw his unfailing service to our Lord even as his health continued to fail. It was the loss of a wonderful man—we and ABR will miss him dreadfully. One of the last things he asked his wife was whether Td received his book, now printed in Chinese which he had sent to me."
Return to ABR!
Dave was asked to return to ABR as director. After much prayer and consideration we informed CCC of our decision to terminate as staff. Was our time with CCC wasted? No, for Dave's desire was now more than ever to use ABR's research to further God's Kingdom. Although the research was important, the priority was to use it as a tool and not as an end in itself, a desire with which the board concurred.
Tours to Israel continued and, the newsletter was increased to four pages! A loaded four pages—jammed with up-to-date news on issues of the day, brief articles on Archaeology and Creation-Science and announcements of events to come. In *76 the newsletter was going out to 1,200 people and, almost daily requests were coming in. At the same time Dave was part-time pastor in a Presbyterian Church in Kensington, in Philadelphia—which lead to beginning a new church, started in our home on Moreland Road in Willow Grove. This was now the fourth church (in U.S.) where he had served as pastor.
As you can see the next few years were VERY busy; pastoring, holding seminars, writing and researching and a time of fruitfulness. Dave had heard (Dr.) Jay Adams say once, "Never do anything unless you can use it three ways!" His calendar was full—with meetings and several seminars each month. In a prayer letter for January '77 Dave asks for prayer for several seminars in churches in the spring, the Bible Science convention in August, the ABR tour to Egypt, Jordan—Petra, Israel and Rome in November, plus numerous smaller meetings here and there. The church we had started in our home (PCA—Presbyterian Church of America) was growing steadily.
That year he taught a three week course at Christian Heritage College in San Diego. It was about that class that a brilliant young student, Gordon Franz, had this to say, "We sat in class in the periodical room of the library. I was eating up all the material—that class was the turning point of my life. Dave was the one who suggested / go to the institute. As they say, the rest is history!" (Gordon is now ABR staff.)
The Creation-Science Convention was also held in Philly that year—with all the big names in Creation-Science present. While attending Dave met Dr. and Mrs. Don DeLancey—a charming and attractive couple—a dentist from Sellersville, Pa. A close friendship developed and, eventually Don became a board member. He and his wife Margaret had traveled extensively, to the Andes in S.A., the Galapagos Islands, western U.S. and Canada researching Creationism.
Don, also became our family dentist—and the best one we ever had! You see... it was like this ... when he was working on our teeth he told of his latest adventures and before you knew it he was finished and, we had been so engrossed in his tales that we hadn't even realized he'd been doing some gruesome drilling! We LOVED going to the dentist! While there we traveled to some of the most exotic places in the world!
Digging for "Ai"
The article in the Westminster Journal in 1970 was well-read in archaeological circles, and though some didn't agree most had to admit that Dave's research was worth reconsidering the date of the Exodus and new location for Ai. While on the sixth tour of Israel in *78, the Dept of Antiquities in Israel gave ABR permission to have our own dig for the first time! And, by '79 the Ai project turned from an only-on-paper-research to an actual dig—looking for "The Lost City of Ai." From July 14, to August 4th, total cost for the dig and touring was $1250. We had 32 participants, from all over the U.S and two from Australia. We were able to get permission from the Dept. of Antiquities if we used an Israeli archaeologist—and this turned out to be David Tarler and Jane Cahill, with whom we had a good working relationship which lasted for several digging seasons. Gary Lipton became our surveyor/draftsman.
The digging has been continuing for a number of years, with good results sometimes, and other times discouraging. The dig itself is another story—one which Dave has been writing about in detail in his final report I will not expand on it here, since it will soon be published elsewhere. For that information and Ms conclusions you will have to see his report! Most of those "diggers" will testify to the impact it had on their lives—not only learning the science of "digging" but for most the Bible came alive as never before, friendships were formed that continue on and on.... When we began staying at the Orthodox settlement of Pesagot, relationships with our Jewish friends became an important part of the dig. As Dr. Milton Fisher, board member, put it, "I believe that the Lord has you here for more reasons than to find Ai!"
Among those first diggers were Dr. Clifford Wilson and his son-in-law. Cliff would eventually introduce us to Bryant Wood, the present director of ABR. Other diggers that first year were our son-in-law, Harold Bray, rugged—red-haired, bearded, "Viking" from Maine; the DeLanceys (mentioned above); the Fishers (board member); Bradleys (John introduced Dave to " Arclmaging" a group of scientists with whom Dave is currently working who are looking for archaeological evidence at the base of Mt. Ararat): Dot Weirick, who except for once when her husband, Paul was ill, has gone with us on every dig; Paul and Carol McCoy; a careful researcher who has contributed to ABR; and a group of students from Christian Heritage College, which included Gordon Franz.
Sometimes it was just plain hard work—picking, shoveling, dumping "goofas" and emptying wheelbarrows! Other times, like when hacking in the dirt tediously with the "peteech," we got well-acquainted and, eventually knew EVERYTHING about EVERYBODY there was to know! Then there was pottery washing, which everyone hated and tried to get out of and only did out of necessity, during which time we exchanged life-stories, found out what we already knew and dis¬cussed the dig over and over! Funny how quickly everyone would suddenly appear, though, when it was time for pottery reading! Partly because it WAS exciting to discover what we'd found that day, and also because from the discards we could take our pick of what we wanted to fill our suitcases with to take home! And everyone went home with suitcases full of rocks and broken pottery. (Even if it meant having to throw out dig clothes. But hey—by now they were so dirty we didn't want to see them again anyway!) Lots of camaraderie—how we joked with one digger, a psychiatrist dubbed, "The psychiatrist who washes broken pots for therapy! "
Fun and funny things happened on every dig! That first year while digging in a tomb one of the "diggers" was chased out by a bob-cat—or some animal that got bigger everytime the story was told. By the end of the dig it sounded like it had been a mountain lion!!! Anyway—it scared him half to death when, on it's dash to freedom, dug its claws into his shoulder! (Actually, according to Gordon Franz, one of the diggers in that tomb who SAW it, says, yes, it was actually, an Arab neighbor's pet-cat!)
Those early mornings walking down one hill and up another toward our site, watching the early, hot summer sun arise in all its splendor behind the tower in the "garden area" was a scene impressed in our minds—scenes we'll never forget. But then, also, in the noon heat—none of us will EVER forget the reverse—walking BACK up those same hills to the bus (by now the distance was much farther and the hills were MUCH steeper!) "Heartbreak Hill" it was dubbed! (Just a few tales, here, NOT in Dave's report!)
One of the most memorable times was the year of the founding of the new settlement, "Pesagot." A large Jewish man, wearing his yarmulka, and carrying a gun in a holster on his hip, came down to see what we were doing and introduced himself as "Amos." He told us they were planning to live on the bill next to the site! When we saw the weapon we expected trouble—but none ensued. Then—sure enough—next to the last day of the dig we watched Israeli's hauling "caravans" and parking them on the hill above our dig where we had once built an altar of stones on the place where we felt Abraham erected an altar millenniums before. We had held a little ceremony on that very spot, dedicating the dig to the Lord.
And ... on the last day ... which is usually one of the most tedious—cleaning, snipping wirey roots, and sweeping, yes, sweeping dirt in order to take those last-day pictures—we had more visitors. The Israeli army came sweeping down and told us we had to leave—at once! Israelis were moving in and expecting trouble from the Arabs in Ramallah and they, the army, would escort us out for our safety. We were to follow them, drive quickly and keep our heads down! We hurriedly gathered up our tools, literally RAN up "Heartbreak Hill" jumped on the bus and took off behind the army jeeps. We went through the town of Ramallah with no trouble—tho' we did hear screeching, ranting and raving over the loud speaker from the mosque as we passed by! It was explained to us by our army escort the Arabs were being incited to demonstrate!
Since then we have had a good relationship with the Orthodox Jews at "Pesagot" and they have insisted we stay with them in their homes while digging. They have arranged meals, equipment, and even dug with us from time to time. Some have allowed their children to visit us while digging, empty "goofas," and be a nuisance crawling through tunnels and into eaves and even wash pottery! (We'd take any pottery washers we could get!!!) Many enjoyable hours were spent with the "settlers" discussing the Bible. Dave was even invited to speak in the synagogue one evening for two hours.
And yes—we had MANY wonderful “finds" in those tunnels, tombs, caves, underground houses. I can't begin to tell all we've found. One of the first exciting finds was the middle-bronze-age dagger, for with that we knew we had middle-bronze material, proving the age of the site and, increasing its possibility of being "Ai" that Joshua conquered.
But is Khirbet Nisya "Ai?" It looks like Ai, has all the archaeological periods necessary, fits geographically; but as yet no walls have been found. During the Byzantine period (ca, 325-620 A.D.) the farmers removed all the rocks they could find for their own building purposes. We have counted at least twenty-six terraces walls along the eastern slope alone. Possibly there will never be enough actual proof to convince everyone positively.
Other Activities--New Opportunties and the Ph.D
In the fall of November '79 we held our 10th annual banquet with 280 people present. The fall banquet was always the biggest event of the year—with the latest pictures of the dig, special music groups, reports—and well attended with diggers flying in from all over the U.S. Many of the churches in the Philadelphia area were behind us, and well-represented at these banquets. Our daughter-in-law, Denise, each year created lovely centerpieces for each table (gifts for the board members and wives.) One loyal attender was Dr. Jasinski (Polish-scientist). He was Roman Catholic, but excited about Creationism, and declared ABR was the ONLY place he knew of where he could discuss Creationism! For years, as long as we held these Phillly-area banquets, he never missed once! He returned to Poland (still under communism) and taught and spoke boldly of Creationism—even on busses and trains!
We were now living in Huntingdon Valley in a larger house, one that could accommodate the office for ABR and, our "House church"- with between 70-80 meeting regularly on Sundays. That summer our son David was married, Tommy graduated from college, and Beth was busy with her two little ones in Maine. In the midst of our busy lives, I could still call those years "The Years of the Family."
By spring of '80, a new staff member was working with ABR in archaeology, Rev. David Miller, former pastor. Don Rogers was now actively speaking and holding seminars in "Cults and the Occult." Dave was now including in his seminars lectures on "The Family" connecting it with his other research. His burden for teaching on the family came about because of our own experience in Korea when we had to send our children to a boarding school. That same year there were digs at both Jericho and St. Andrews Church in Jerusalem.
New opportunities opened up in '81 from Greater European Mission to teach in their Bible Schools and seminaries in Europe. (Remember, Dave had at one time been invited to teach permanently, and now he was invited to teach short-term modules in archaeology and creationism.) Dave and Don Rogers traveled that spring for a month, teaching in Sweden, Germany, and France. From this first European trip followed several more years of teaching and speaking in European countries. The aim was "to train pastors an future Christian workers in the use of our material on Archaeology, Creation-Science, (Dave) and Cults and the Occult (Don) in their own countries."
In a letter in 83, I wrote to our supporters about Dave's teaching in Europe. "He left for Europe in the middle of the biggest snow storm Philly ever had—two feet of snow everywhere! These last three years have been the highlight of his ministry—time with missionaries and Bible School students. The response from these who are so hungry for what Dave has to offer almost overshadows the rest of his ministry! "
The ABR board decided that having paid "members" was the way to go and, in '82 there were 500 paid up members! Within that same year the charter-membership was up to 600—the best so far.
Still no time was left for Dave to conclude his studies for a Ph.D. He could see the importance for research AND, as director of ABR, to have that degree behind his name! Permission was granted from the board for Dave to take a year's Sabbatical in '83 and finish Ms Ph.D. program at Andrew's University in Michigan (Seventh-Day Adventist). Why there? He had been invited to speak at their University and present his project of Bethel-Ai. It had been well received, and they invited him to come there to complete his Ph.D. Also, they would give him credit for both his MA. in Biblical Studies and credit from Dropsie in Philadelphia and the University of Pa. They also accepted his position on both Creation and an early date for the Exodus. (A fact that most schools would not accept. In fact, the department head at the University of Pa. had refused to admit Dave because of his evangelical-Christian position—though he was able to attend classes part-time when attending Dropsie.) It had been 14 years now, since he had begun the Ph.D. program.
As always, the Lord provided for the year's absence from ABR. ABR's staff have never been "rich" but over and over we can testify how God has provided when the need was there. My father died that year. And while we were together with family for his funeral, we discovered that Dad had left cash stored in the potato bin in the old cellar of my parent's house! My mother said it was some "extra" that was to be divided between my two sisters and myself—a gift—and enough to see us through living in Michigan and for Dave to obtain his Ph.D. (Thank you, Dad.) You should of seen the face of the bank teller when I took the money into the bank to deposit it!
"This smells musty—where did you get it?" She looked at me suspiciously.
"Out of a potato bin." I answered.
That same year our son David graduated from Colorado State Univ. with "highest distinction" and we were now up to six grandchildren.
In January of '84, I wrote the following; "As you see we are now in Michigan—Dave was forced to drop his Ph.D. program 14 years ago because of finances and starting ABR. But, now, we are excited that the board encouraged him to continue. Pray for the other ABR staff who are filling in the gap—they need all the prayers they can get, for their load has been greatly increased! (Ron Zuck, especially had a big load, and we were most thankful for the many hours he spent keeping ABR together!)
During summer vacation, ABR had it's 4th season of digging in Israel looking for Ai! While on that '84 dig, Yitshak Magen, the head of the Dept of Antiquities for our area, told Dave, 'You MUST continue, it is obvious to us now that you have a VERY important site. Few sites are occupied as continuously as yours! It was not just a farm in the Iron Age and Hasmonean, there is now too much evidence that it was an important village." Amos, our Jewish host on the settlement, was totally convinced that our site was Ai, Dave spent several hours studying the Bible in Hebrew with Amos and his wife Sara, going over the story of Joshua and the battle of Ai. Amos has been our host in Pesagot for all these years.
A Problem Arises!
After we returned to Andrews that fall and were absent from Philadelphia, the first real problem arose in the organization, a problem difficult to handle away from home. It was finally worked out by the local board members. ABR had taken on Rev. Don Rogers as a staff member, whose ministry in "Cults and the Occult" had become quite popular and he was known far and wide for his counseling and speaking. He had graciously taken over many of the responsibilities in our absence and, it appeared to some of our board members that "Cults and the Occult" had become the emphasis instead of a third prong of ABR's outreach.
Objections were coming from ABR supporters, wondering what "Demonism" had to do with ABR! "Weren't we neglecting our main purpose?” The objections were understandable, for working in the occult involved the organization in some bizarre situations! Don graciously resigned, realizing the complications would be best resolved by his leaving, which he did and started his own work separately from ABR.
A New Era Emerges with New Staff
We returned to the Philadelphia area at the end of the year, though Dave still had to complete his dissertation (which was on the dig in Israel).
In '85 ABR gained another new staff member—Rev. Gene Fackler. Although he was already helping in some areas, now he came on staff full time. For him, too, it was a sacrifice, a leap of faith, a big cut in salary (raised his own support as do all the staff), yet he desired to use the gifts God gave him in ABR. Dave's letter reads, "Gene is welcomed as a new ABR staff! He has been pastor of the Third Reformed Church in Philadelphia for 19 and half years. Now as a full-time staff, he comes with a wealth of experience and, with his artistic talent will work on visual aids of all kinds and with our publications as well as helping in outreach. His years of experience as a radio announcer will fit into media plans we have, also. We are so excited he is with us. Please pray for Gene and Sally as they raise their support." Gene has been a helper, encourager, besides diligently serving ABR in the above capacities. One of his first projects was to handle Dr. Clifford Wilson's radio broadcast, 'The Stones Cry Out".
'85 was also the first year Bryant Wood was with us on the dig—and from now on would be working with us as part of the dig-team. Also George Delong (board member) and his wife Marilyn and their three children accompanied us. Even their youngest son, Doug, age 13, was up and "at it" at six in the morning—pushing and emptying wheelbarrows.
After that dig I wrote our supporters, "How I miss our diggers when the dig is over and we all go our own ways! You’ve had Dave's letters and I hope caught the excitement over the 'finds 'from the summer. Well—it's continuing—our garage (and everywhere else) is full of tables of pottery and Dot, Gene, Dave and I are restoring, drawing, sawing and Dave identifying. Already looking for¬ward to next summer 'in Jerusalem.'"
In his 15th year Director's Report, Dave says this of ABR. "Our board members, and full-time and part-time staff have spoken hundreds of times in schools and churches during the past 15 years. Thousands of high school and college students have learned of Scientific Creationism, ar¬chaeological confirmation of the Word and the dangers of and the way out of the cults and the occult. Over 40 weekend seminars on Creationism alone have been conducted by the director, several TV programs made and used over and over.... This is the 14th year of the Newsletter and 10th of the Encounter series. Books and literature sales have ministered to thousands." (Ron Zuck handled literature sales.)
Jan.’86, from Berrien Springs I (EGL) write; "Dave had been floundering on his dissertation, but now is back on track thanks to quality time from his supervisors, and Jim the computer expert who helped us on the dig, and uninterrupted time to think through the dig square by square and potsherd by potsherd. The dissertation is actually the dig report, so is serving a double purpose."
"And now it's time to move back to Pa. to the constantly ringing telephone, meeeeetings, lettttters, seeeeeminars, and all the business connected with ABR. Yet we are privileged to be working for the Lord! Our hope and prayer for this next dig is that we might have more involvement with the Orthodox settlement overlooking our site. We've developed good friends there ..."
AND that prayer has been answered many times over, thanks to our diggers who were faithful to pray and spend time with these Orthodox Jewish settlers.
Dave writes, "More exciting than the dig, though it was not as exciting as last year, was the opportunity to speak to them in the synagogue on a Shabbat evening for two hours! It was the liveliest lecture I've ever had with many interruptions—yet cordial reception."
These people from Pesagot are MORE than convinced that Khirbet Nisya is Ai. (In fact they now have a section of the settlement named "Mevo Ha Ai "which literally means "The Entrance to Ail!)
March '86-- "All of us in ABR will deeply miss our friend, board member and speaker on Scientific Creationism, Dr. Don DeLancey. It is difficult to adjust to the fact that he is no longer with us. Our loss is Don's and the Lord Jesus' great gain."
Dave and I were the last patients to sit in his dentist chair, and that last hour of fellowship was precious, though we could feel that all was not well with him physically. He died soon afterwards with a serious heart condition. It was a great loss for our board, as well as losing a dear, close friend.
Don had been one of ABR's most active board members; he had conducted numerous field trips, held seminars and lectures in many schools and churches. His wife, Margaret, has since taken his information and is traveling all over the world teaching Creationism in schools and churches. Don must be rejoicing to know that his beloved Margaret is continuing his work and we rejoice with her over the fruit she is harvesting!
Dave wrote in his year-end report; "Along with our great staff, we praise God for a wonderful supportive, active, helpful board of Directors, And several part-time volunteers who give generously of their time. How we miss Don!" The relationship with staff, staff wives and board was indeed like family, with a closeness with one-another. While the men met to¬gether for their meetings, the wives also met for prayer, sharing and sometimes sight-seeing and shopping. And, as always, a meal to¬gether with our husbands. At the December board meeting we some¬times went to a restaurant where we were treated by a secret party! Dave considered them the back-bone of ABR and a great encour¬agement to the staff—the same spirit with which the board began in '69 continued through those years. Thank you, for your service to us and the Lord!
When sorrow struck they were there to support and encourage one another. Once when a member's wife had left him—time was spent in prayer and tears together, for not only did this member suf¬fer tragedy, but during the same meeting Dr. Gene Stull informed the board he had just been diagnosed with cancer. There was the feeling that our adversary did NOT want this organization and was trying to destroy it from within, and prayer was the only answer.
In December of '86, ABR gained two more new staff: Dr. Bryant Wood., who had first been introduced to us by Clifford Wilson, and Dr. Robert Goette—former missionary to Korea, whom we met while in Korea with C.C.C. in '74. Bryant had finished his Ph.D in archaeology, and Bob's interest was in Creation-Evolution. They both brought to ABR new vision and enthusiasm. Gene Fackler was, by now, heavily involved in the radio ministry on 35 stations, and working on a broadcast "The Stones Cry Out" besides laying out the newsletter.
In my (EGL) Christmas letter of '86, I wrote about the past 12 months ... Too much cold, too much heat (feeling our age); Too much travel, too many moves. (We had moved from Michigan, back to Philly, to Israel, Europe for 6 weeks, Michigan and finally to Lancaster!!! Phew!) Too little time with family, (too much work and too many trips away from home;) Too little time, and too little money. (Story of our lives!!!!) But then I added the verse I had read that morning when Dave brought me my coffee in bed: Psalm 112: "Even in darkness light dawns for the upright.... His heart is secure, he will have no fear…"
In ‘87 Dave's father, David Livingston, Sr. went to be with the Lord. He had been the first board member, and was a faithful supporter until now. Dave had been invited to present the Bethel-Ai problem in a Symposium on the Exodus and Conquest in Memphis, but hesitated to fulfill this obligation when he knew his father was dying. His mother told him that if his dad could advise him the answer would be to GO TO THE SYMPOSIUM! He did, reluctantly, and just before he was to speak to this large gathering of scholars from all over the world, he received word his father had passed away! He got up to speak and began by telling about his father and his faith, and there were few dry eyes in the audience.
In reading through old prayer letters I'm amazed at the many requests for prayer that were answered that year. Memberships in the new magazine were up to 600. We asked prayer for a place to store tools and have a headquarters in Israel, and the Jews at the settlement arranged for that! I could go on and on with the many, many details we saw working out. Looking at ABR as a whole one misses the little victories, but looking back, it's an amazing story!
April, ‘88. "Dr. Gene Stull has entered Glory and is with Jesus. What an encouragement he was to us—how -we will miss him." Gene's funeral was a time of rejoicing together as we knew he had gone to be with the Lord. Dr. Gene Stull was at one time Supt of Schools in Abington, a suburb of Philadelphia. It was while he was in that position that Madeleine Murry O' Hare's son brought a law suit against the Abington schools in order to get Bible reading out of the schools and succeeded! Gene was the defendant in this case. As you can see from this bold position on his part, Gene was a staunch Christian, willing to stand up for the Bible for whatever the consequences. He was a great help and encouragement as a board member when it came to public schools.
His wife, Mary, was loads of fun. We enjoyed her outgoing personality and looked up to her for her wisdom and maturity. I remember one of our ladies once asked her, "What in the WORLD can I feed my picky-eating-grandchildren when they come to visit!"
"Well—when mine come in the door the first thing I ask them is, “What's it today, hamburgers or hotdogs?"
'89. "Finally! Dave has officially become, 'Dr Livingston I presume!" We were now settled in our new house in Lancaster County. It meant the loss of some of our Philadelphia contacts—churches and volunteers. The decision to move ABR out of Philly was a hard one, but we finally took the leap. For the staff it would be less expensive to live and maintain ABR, but unfortunately, we were unknown in Lancaster. Dave, was able soon to rent space for an office in Ephrata, ('91) and we had two dear people; Mrs. Ruth Courtney, who ran the office, supervised new volunteers from the area, and hundreds of little things to help out; and later Mr. Richard Lake, former missionary to the Philippines. Both were a tremendous help in handling finances and other business of ABR.
Bryant Wood's research at Jericho caused excitement with us and in wide academic circles. We were selling books from the new office—and had a $13,000 inventory at this time. Response to the radio programs doubled the last year, and had doubled the year before due to Gene's good work. The dig was interesting—nothing earth-shaking—but we made several interesting discoveries. Everything was encouraging—all our staff were working hard and, in spite of the move it was a good time-period for ABR.
Staff and board member, Ron Zuck, had been working especially hard and long for ABR, and this letter written to him in '92, after the trauma of moving the office to Lancaster County, reflects the appreciation of the rest of the staff:
"All of us in ABR ... extend our deepest appreciation for many years of diligent and sacrificial service you have given to make ABR in large part what it is today. You enthusiastically came to work with us when ABR was in its fragile infancy and stuck with us through thick and thin. You kept the financial records accurately, and continually updated our friends and member mailing information. While doing that you published the Newsletter and kept it going out to ABR friends when there was almost no one else to help with it. In addition, you stocked and sold thousands of dollars of helpful books and literature for many years. . . . Because of accurate record-keeping and your cooperation, we were able to make the transfer of all our administrative activities to Lancaster county. We cannot commend you both sufficiently nor thank you enough to equal all you have done to encourage and help us...." It was often Ron, who, unheralded, picked up the pieces and carried us forward! Unforgettable to some, like Milt and Merilyn Fisher, are the times when Ron, unable to join us on our digs in Israel, voluntarily drove a van-load of us to the airport in New York. AND when the dig was over picked us up and brought us home to our doorsteps!
That autumn we discovered the tremors Dave had been experiencing since the beginning of the year was Parkinson's. This came as a blow, and we knew what it entailed since Dave's dad had suffered with it also. We knew it meant that for us changes would have to be made—and for how long he would be able to continue his work was uncertain. By '93 his condition was noticeably worsening, and by ‘94 was so bad he knew he would have to step down as director of ABR. He was no longer physically able to carry the heavy load. This 2-3 year time-period was probably the lowest time in his life.
'94 was ABR's 25th year, and in the report to our supporters and the board Dave wrote: "Since the beginning we have had dozens of seminars; published monthly and bimonthly newsletters; acquired a weekly radio broadcast, "The Stones Cry Out" ( on 70 stations nationwide) ; took over publishing Bible and Spade; began digging regularly in Israel (12 times since 1979); taught short courses in colleges, seminaries and Bible Schools, both in U.S. and overseas; published many articles in journals and magazines not affiliated with us; and much more. Through all this God has blessed us abundantly!
"Though I'm stepping down as director, I will remain on staff."
His Parkinson's had by now reached the point where he was considering an operation on the brain (pallidotomy). He finally decided against it, and new medication has actually lessoned the symptoms. However, during this time he was so bad that the work of ABR slowed down, the transition to a new director took time and meant lots of adjustments for all the staff.
The board voted for Bryant to become the new director and as with any new leadership changes were to take place. I am stopping here with the past History of ABR, for now it is no longer "our" story to tell—but, since ‘95 belongs to a new era.
Was ABR a Success?
Success must be weighed against the original purposes of the organizers. As I, EGL, have been putting together this history of ABR, I am amazed at what has happened since it's conception. I admit that when looking at the smaller picture it sometimes looks less than encouraging. However, looking at the whole scene and what was accomplished during those 25 years is ANYTHING but discouraging! In reading over letters of individuals whose lives were touched I experience only excitement!
ABR did not become wealthy with huge sums of money raised for the projects, as some would like to judge criteria for "success." Yet, God has supplied the needs of all the staff who have been working with ABR. As the staff have raised their support, a prayer base for the work of ABR has been built. Prayers have been answered because YOU prayed for us!
Nor has ABR turned the "world upside down" with amazing archaeological discoveries. Yet she has found her place in textbooks (A Survey of O.T. Introduction by Gleason Archer), and commentaries (The International Bible Commentary). ABR was led to dig for many reasons, not the least were the many opportunities of ministering to "diggers" and sharing our faith over and over with those the Lord put in our way—especially in Pesagot itself, the Orthodox settlement where we were privileged to live while digging on our nearby site.
ABR has been blessed with a great staff, a successful witness—it's been God's work, and whatever has been done, He has done it. We praise Him for all the many, many reached over these years of ministry. Lives have been changed during the past years; some becoming believers, and convinced of the veracity of scripture; some who for the first time were convinced our Mighty God created the world in six days! And I could go on .... What we were not able to do—He led in that, too. I have been long convinced that God does NOT need a large, wealthy organization to get His work done, He needs a few faithful, dedicated people who love Him and will serve Him however He leads, and with whatever He provides.
Those Many Faithful Supporters
For those of you who have supported us and the other staff of ABR we are most grateful, and thank the Lord for you every day. Some have supported this organization since it's beginning in 1969. You have been the base upon which this work was started and you kept it going through the best and worst of times. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts that even when it didn't seem anything exciting was taking place, yet you trusted us, and encouraged us. We cannot include your names in this report, but you know who you are. And for the thousands of dollars you have pro¬vided may God bless you abundantly, There is a saying that "where your money goes—there goes your prayers." and we have been reassured of your prayers along with your gifts.
Chronology of Events by the Years
1969—ABR organized with board members: Rev. Jack Levin, Rev. Walter Kenyon, David Livingston Sr., Mr. Richard Harris, Mr. Jack Scott and Mr. Everette Meeker. By November tax-exempt status was received from the government.
1970—First article published on Bethel-Ai appears in The Westminster Theological Journal. Rev. Dick Foster a new board member. First tour to Israel—total cost: $595, which included Rome and Greece.
1971—Second Tour of Israel—cost $699. Newsletter now going out to supporters free, or those who give a dollar or more for the year!
1972—DPL resigns and becomes CCC staff—Dr. Jim Reid assumes directorship. More emphasis on Creation-Evolution.
1974—Dr. Jim Reid dies: DPL returns as director.
1975—Tour to Israel, Rome and Greece.
1977—Tour to Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Rome. Philadelphia Creation-Science Convention. (Met Dr. and Mrs. DeLancy for first time.) DPL teaches a three week module at CMC. (Met Gordon Franz.) Move to Huntingdon Valley.
1978— 11 day tour to Israel. Oct. Field trips to coal fields with Dr. DeLancey, and museums with DPL. Seminars with Dr. Austin Robbins, Dr. DeLancey, Dr. Chris Hummer, Dr. Fisher and DPL. Altogether 11 speakers are listed as "Associates" for ABR.
1979—Dig permit received—first dig that summer—cost $1290. Fall tour to Israel. Field trips to museums in New York City with DPL. Dr. DeLancey travels to Galapagos Islands and Nazca, Peru. Thanks to Ron Zuck, vice-president of CLC and ABR board member, all addresses are now computerized. November 10th banquet with 280 attending. Begin new ministry of "Cults and Occult" with new staff member, Don Rogers. Many speaking engagements and seminars scheduled, including Dr. Jasinski (Polish-Roman Catholic) speaking to Polish groups in Philadelphia.
1980—New staff—Rev. David Miller and Gordon Franz actively working with ABR, speaking and assisting on digs. Excavations in Jericho with Ehud Netzer and St. Andrews with Gabi Barkay. Heavy speaking schedules and seminars continue for the staff, board members, and "Associates."
1981—DPL and Don Rogers teach in GEM schools in Europe. Franz and Livingston teach modules at CHC, in San Diego. Dig in Israel at Khirbet Nisya (44 volunteers and staff. Best find— middle-bronze dagger.) Dr. Jasinski lectures in Poland. Heavy speaking engagements and seminars continue. Dr. Robbins "wins" debate on creation vs. evolution at Univ. of Buffalo! ABR has new computer and copier.
1982—DPL teaches in European Bible schools in Feb. Dr. Stull, Dr. Hummer, G. Franz, D. Rogers, Dr. DeLancey, Dr. Robbins, Dr. McCoy, DPL spoke at many seminars. Dr. Fisher begins a very popular series: "Words that Make a difference" in Newsletter. June—33 volunteers dig at Bethel-Ai excavation. (DPL listed as being editor of the newsletter, Ron Zuck asst. editor; art and layout, Gene Fackler; membership sec'y, Beth Bray; and mailing, Russell and Sadie Lenz. Memberships—$10 a year. Newsletters now $3, no longer free.
1983—6 weeks of teaching and ministering in European Bible Schools and seminaries. Small dig with only a few hand-picked men. DPL gets permission from board to take LOA to finish Ph.D. at Andrews Univ. Ron Zuck purchases and programs new computer, bought from banquet gifts.
1984—Dig at Kh. Nisya, (spectacular finds—large mikveh and large olive pressing cave.) Dig was followed by teaching in European schools. DPL returns to Mich. working on Ph.D. at Andrews Univ. Don Rogers and Ron Zuck assume most responsibilities in ABR.
1985—One of the best digs yet, with 44 participating, MUCH Caananite pottery found! All data now entered on the computer. Plans to take over the distribution of Dr. Wilson's radio braodcast, "The Stones Cry Out," giving an even greater outreach for ABR. Also plans to launch a periodical "Archaeology and Biblical Research" by end of year, replacing "Bible and Spade." Rev. Gene Fackler resigns pastorate at 3rd Reformed Church in Philadelphia and officially joins ABR staff. DPL finishes residential work for doctorate at Andrews. Don Rogers resigns from ABR—begins new organization.
1986—Gene's "The Stones Cry Out" radio ministry now on 23 stations, possibly as many as 10 stations outside the US on short wave. In March Dr. DeLancey went to be with the Lord. DPL digs in Jericho, along with 6 volunteers. 6th season summer dig at Kh. Nisya. Dr. Bryant Wood (archaeology) and Dr. Bob Goette (Creation-science) come on as new staff. Radio now on 35 stations, with both Gene and Dave making regular broadcasts. Annual banquet with 129 attending. Many opportunities for outreach with Gene Fackler, Ron Zuck several board members and DPL.
1987—Bryant Wood made important discovery on pottery found at Jericho. Memberships for the new magazine, A&BR, are well over 600. Dig with 20 volunteers—Faith (Bryant's wife breaks her ankle!) Dave's dad, David Livingston Sr.—first board member and heavy contributor to ABR since the beginning, died.
1988—Dr. Gene Stull died. Dave writes, " What an encouragement he was to all interested in Creationism, We have lost two board members in three years, plus my dad— a former board member. " Memberships for magazine now 1102. George Delong new board member.
1989—DPL finally becomes, "Dr Livingston I presume!" ABR's 20th year. 1200 members for the magazine. Unusually many responses on the weekly radio program, now on 60 stations, Gene reports. DPL and Gene both move to Lancaster Co. Dr. Todd Beall becomes board member. Margaret DeLancey resigns as staff.
1990—DPL moves to Ephrata. Dig continues but situation in Israel not good. David Hansen now member of board. Also John Meyer. BGW's article on Jericho published in BAR. And reported soon afterward in the New York Times and Time magazine.
1991—2 banquets—1st—120 in attendance, 2nd banquet in Lancaster with 80 guests. New office rented in Ephrata, and part-time secretary hired, plus volunteer handling all book, tape, and video sales. All going well—moving ahead. Dig in Israel in Oct. From now on we will stay at the settlement when digging! Nov—DPL diagnosed with Parkinson's. It was a difficult and VERY busy year!
1992—DPL and George Delong (board member) go to Israel and dig with bulldozer! BGW appeared on CBS prime time special. "Ancient Secrets of the Bible." Bryant has rec'd grant for two month study on Jericho. Michael Luddeni joins "dig" team going to Israel. (Will later become a board member, and main photographer for Israel digs.) Dr. Bob Goette resigns as staff due to retiring and moving to Fla. Dr. John Meyer also resigns as board member due to move to Arizona. Sec'y Mrs. Ruth Courtney terminates her work in the office, and Richard Lake takes her place.
1993—DPL teaches in Latvia in Jan. DPL on CBS in May. Fall dig in Israel, followed by teaching again in Latvia, Denmark, and Norway in Bible schools.
1994—Small dig due to conditions in Israel. DPL steps down as director after 25 years— Parkinsons symptoms worsening. Dr. Bryant Wood becomes director.
And now the rest of the ABR story continues with new leadership. DPL continues his work on the dig at Khirbet Nisya—has recently finished writing up a final report. At this present writing, 2003, Dave is now 78, and considering he is afflicted with Parkinso'ns and "Waldenstrom's" (Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia) is doing fairly well.
Retirement? Never! Years ago board member, Dr. Jim Reid, gave Dave a card with these words and he still has it on his desk, "The pay ain't great, but the retirement plan is out of this world." And I know Dave wouldn't trade all the $ in the world for the joy in serving Him in ABR!
I have not included in this synopsis details concerning staff other than Dave and those closest to him in earlier years. Not that I am ignoring them, it is their story! If I attempted to include everything it would take many pages—for it has been a hard working staff. Nor have I been able to include the later board members. My purpose has been to tell about the earliest "Associates" who are most likely to be forgotten.
Times have changed and reflect the personality of new leadership and board members. However, in spite of changes, I pray the spirit and purposes with which ABR was founded, listed in the newsletter in 1970, will never change!
— Investigate positions which seem to contradict the Bible.
— Publish results in technical and lay magazines.
— Use archeology, science and biblical studies to present the gospel to unbelievers.
— Teach seminars in churches, schools, at home and abroad.
— Seek out and help selected young students in study programs.
— Conduct archaeological digs and tours in the Near East.
"Beloved Christian people, let us be up and doing; let us take the torch of the Word of God and wave it abroad, so that the darkness of the world may be illuminated, and men and women may be translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Light, to the kingdom of God's dear Son. What a privilege we have to be lights, to be light bearers, at this dark and difficult hour in the history of the world."
- From The Life of Joy and Peace by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones.