Words of Encouragement from a "Visitor"
"God Bless You in What You are Doing Here"
When Ron and our friend (who was helping him) arrived at the hotel, there was this man who had called me. He somehow had found out Ron's arrival date (I hadn't told him)! It turned out that this man was under the impression (or delusion) that he was a "prophet" and intended to impose himself into the project. So here was Ron and his digger, ready to go to work- but there was no way Ron was going to let this man know anything important, so they went into the main cave system but couldn't do the work they intended to do- not with him present.
As Ron explained it to me, this episode was the straw that sort of "broke the camels back". He had prayed, as he always does, about going over and had been convinced it was what he was supposed to do. Ron was paying all the expenses out of his own pocket and this one was costly. Adding it all up, it was approximately $7,000.00 to $8,000.00 down the tube, which is a LOT of money to us. So, Ron began to question if he was really doing what God wanted him to do, or if he was just fooling himself. At this time, it had been almost 10 years since he had first found the Ark- had he done something wrong that God could no longer use him? Whatever was the case, Ron decided on that trip that he was through- finished. He would close up the cave system and never return.
And let me tell you, this is NOT like Ron at all. He was very excited when he left here, and the experience with the "prophet" showing up must have been a terrible blow. What little he has told me about the incident indicates that it was a far worse experience than it sounds. But whatever happened, it completely deflated Ron, who interpreted the failed trip to mean that he had been "taken off the job".
But then Ron had an experience that changed his life. One day on that trip, he and the "prophet" were sitting on the ground just outside the entrance into the cave system- Ron's helper was inside. Ron was working on the radar scanner- changing the paper or something- and the "prophet" was in the shade of a large bush eating his lunch. Where they were sitting was, at that time, many feet lower than the ground level just behind them because this was where Ron had excavated down years earlier. It's necessary to understand this in light of the next event.
Ron heard a voice behind him say "God bless you in what you are doing here", and he looked up. Standing on the much higher ground many feet above him was a tall, slender man with dark hair wearing a long white robe and head covering similar to that worn in Biblical times-except that it was all pure white. Startled, mainly because he didn't TELL anyone what he was "doing here", he wondered who this man was.
He tried to make polite conversation and asked him if he was from around the area. The man replied simply "No" then remained silent. Ron then asked him if he was a tourist, and he again replied simply, "No". More silence, then the figure in white said, "I'm on my way from South Africa to the New Jerusalem". Ron was so startled that he couldn't say anything, but just stared at him. Then, the man again said, "God bless you in what you are doing here", and then turned and walked away.
After a moment, the "prophet", who couldn't see the man because he was beneath the shade of the bush, said, "Ron, do you think we've been talking to an angel?" Ron replied, "At least..."
I remember his call like it was yesterday. If you don't know Ron personally, let me explain that Ron is very low-keyed. He never acts excited or angry- his voice rarely gives away his true feelings. But I knew something had happened even though his voice was calm. He told me what had happened, and explained how just hours earlier, he had silently given up- frustrated, tired and simply worn down, he had lost his belief that what he was doing was God's will. Then, this stranger appeared and he repeated word for word their conversation. He was glad that the "prophet" had at least heard the conversation- at least he knew for sure that it really happened.
And when he questioned the locals who worked along the only path anyone could take to enter the area, he discovered that NO one had seen anyone of that description either come into the area or leave. Although the escarpment is extremely long, today it is surrounded by buildings, fences and stone walls which prevent anyone coming into the area except through one particular street. And the vendors along that street have been there day after day as long as Ron had worked there and he knew them well. There was no doubt about it- the stranger in white had been seen by no one else. And then Ron told me that he believed it was more than just an angel- he was deeply impressed that it was Christ, Himself.
Whether Christ or an angel, the experience was enough to encourage Ron and convince him that his efforts had NOT been in vain, and that he WAS still in God's will.
And since then, I have seen the results of that experience over and over, in both of us. From that moment forward, nothing could or will ever dampened Ron's zeal or belief in that or any other project. When he and his group were kidnapped about a year later (August 1991) in eastern Turkey, I know the knowledge of that experience gave me complete peace- I never once (after the initial shock) believed Ron was in serious danger because I knew he still had work to do. My calm was so noticable that when Ron returned, his friends at the hospital ribbed him, saying "Your wife sure must not care too much for you because she was AWFULLY calm on TV when talking about her kidnapped husband."
Ron doesn't talk about this experience with "the man in white" a great deal, but I believe it literally changed his life, giving him enough encouragement to endure whatever it takes to get the work finished. And since that time, Ron, like everyone else, has been "waiting", for the most part.