On a warm spring day in early 2012, John and I were hiking our way through the dry, sparse hill country terrain of Pedernales Falls State Park, tossing an idea back and forth. A series of faith-building, instructional lessons filmed in the land of the Bible: investigating the ancient city of Jericho where Rahab’s trusting faith saved her and her family from a violent death, traversing the valley where young David’s unwavering faith in God enabled him to strike a giant dead with one small stone, traveling over the Sea of Galilee where Peter’s lack of faith caused him to take his eyes from Jesus and sink into the crashing waves. Walking the streets of Jerusalem, where a blind man’s faith together with clay formed by Jesus and water from the Pool of Siloam gave him sight, and where Jesus, full of faith, calmly and quietly faced His false accusers.
Would people be interested in learning more about this “promised land”? How does it fortify our faith to visit these sites and learn more about this “testing ground of faith”? A little more background:
In the spring of 1998, John and his brother, Tom, were blessed with an opportunity to study historical geography at the Jerusalem University College. The boys (8, 6, and 3 months) and I slogged through the near-month that he was gone, excited for him but at the same time missing him terribly. These were the very early days of the internet, before Al Gore (sorry) had invented Wi-Fi, cellular data and Skype – so we enjoyed only one very quick, very scratchy, very expensive telephone call.
I was startled by the difference in John’s preaching when he returned. Yes, I’ve always considered him to be an interesting, engaging speaker. But after he experienced the land of Israel, his lessons and classes were brought even more to life. He used maps and pictures to describe these real places and historical events in such a way that my faith was strengthened. Anyone who has sat in a class where John uses maps and talks about biblical geography and archaeology knows his passion for the land AND the Book. I have always thought many more could benefit from the same kind of experience that he had – I wanted to experience it myself!
Praying and planning commenced. John began discussing the idea with Rudy Cain of World Video Bible School. And since that spring day, the project has grown and morphed into something larger than initially imagined, but we are even more excited about the good that can come from these lessons. To read more about the project intent, see the brochure attached here: Informational Brochure
John is our project leader. He has spent countless (yes, I tried to count…but trust me, I think he’s forgotten my name because he’s been completely absorbed in getting everyone ready to hit the ground running!) hours studying his Bible, writing and rewriting and reading scripts, coordinating with the tour guide/travel agent in Israel, filling out permits and applications, arranging filming details in the many tourist-filled “holy” sites in the area, trying to anticipate every detail that might throw a monkey wrench into our already-full days. He has prayed very specific prayers for this trip. God has already blessed us more than we could imagine. John will be filming seven lessons, two of which are: “Jerusalem: An Unforgettable City” about some of the great features of the city and geography of Jerusalem that made it so unforgettable (based on Psalm 137), and “The View From Mount Carmel” about the importance of the Mt. Carmel range in the stories of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, and Elisha and the Shunnamite woman. John’s bio can be found here.
My assignment is to follow along with the scripts as they are being filmed at each site, to make sure the speaker doesn’t forget important details that need to be mentioned on camera. I will be the style coordinator…so I will strike down any crazy trendy collars and/or bellbottoms that will date the series and make people laugh at us. I am the only woman, so I will be the one carrying the Advil, Neosporin, bandages and alcohol wipes. I will coordinate some of the lunches – since we will be out away from civilization some of the time, we will need to pack some lunches. (I hope everyone likes sardines and olives!) I also hope to blog daily, depending on internet/WiFi availability each evening at the hotel, and depending on whether or not I can keep my eyes open long enough to give reports about what was filmed and what took place each day.
Micah and Philip Brumback will be carrying a lot of heavy, expensive camera equipment (pray that nothing breaks!) They will be running errands, carrying heavy loads, and doing the dirty work. I’m sure Mat and Doug will send them to get the “sky hook” from the van, and maybe take them on a few snipe hunts, until they get wise to those old tricks.
Mat Cain is the videographer. He is the mastermind behind many of the video productions at World Video Bible School. He has also read through every script and spent countless hours researching the many sites where we will be filming, so he will have a better idea ahead of time about the best location to shoot, the lighting and timing of the video. Check out World Video Bible School here.
Doug Garner is a talented and experienced photographer. He is also privileged to be my brother. His profession is heating and air conditioning, and he has owned Garner Heating & Air Conditioning for 27 years. He and Mat will work together to capture video and stills of each location. They will both no doubt be up early and out late, trying to capture images including sunrises and sunsets and nighttime views of Jerusalem, then downloading, uploading the images, recharging, and preparing all of their equipment to be ready each day.
Rick Brumback is the Director of the Southwest School of Bible Studies. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Religion at Baylor University. His major fields of study were Patristic History and Theology, and Church History. I can’t even begin to pronounce his dissertation theme, but you can look at his accomplishments here. Rick will be filming six lessons, including “Where Have They Laid My Lord?” about Jesus’ tomb and resurrection, and “Coming to the Presence of the Lord” about the southern steps of the Temple Mount.
Dewayne Bryant is the Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages at the Southwest School of Bible Studies. He has a Master of Arts in Bible and another in Biblical Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in History. Dewayne is a staff writer for Apologetics Press and an Adjunct Professor in Bible at Amridge University. He was a field assistant at Tell El-Borg in Egypt and has great interest in archaeology. You can find more information about Dewayne here. He will be filming five lessons, including “The Treasures of Qumran” about the Essene Community and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and “The Western Wall: A Window Into the First Century” about what remains of the Herodian Temple retaining wall and the tunnels beneath.
Gary Massey is an Attorney and the owner at the law firm of Massey & Associates, as well as the Pulpit Minister for the Mountain Creek church of Christ in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His professional profile can be found here. We met Gary and his family a few years ago at Polishing the Pulpit. Gary has traveled several times to Israel and done extensive study of the region. He will be filming seven lessons, including “Bethsaida: The Lost City of Jesus” about the remains of a first century fishing village that have been unearthed, and “Dan: City of Unfaithfulness” about the archaeological remains of the city of Dan where Jeroboam built an altar to worship golden calves.
Jonathan Moore (not related to us) is by profession a Podiatrist with degrees from Texas State University and California College of Podiatric Medicine. He is managing partner at Cumberland Foot and Ankle Centers of Kentucky. We have known Jon since he was in college in the early 90’s. He lived with us for a while (and you can imagine how confusing it was when the phone rang and the caller asked for John/Jon Moore!) He is passionate about the land of Israel and about God’s Book. Jon will be filming seven lessons, including “Walking With God on Mount Nebo” about the last days of Moses as he looked out over the Promised Land, and “Jericho, the City of Rahab” about the archaeological discoveries at the ancient city of Jericho where Rahab hid the spies.
We are excited about the diversity of the speakers and their backgrounds. We will see the land of Israel through the eyes of individuals trained in ministry, history, archaeology, law, and medicine.
DATES AND LOCATIONS OF FILMING:
These are the planned filming sites. Of course, things will likely change depending on weather and possible issues we might encounter. We will be moving from sunup to beyond sundown. As you can see, there is no real “R&R” involved in this trip, although there will be much that we will enjoy.
Departure – March 15 and 16, arrival March 17
Wednesday, March 18: Caesarea, Mt. Carmel
Thursday, March 19: Megiddo, Jezreel Valley, Nazareth, Cana, Mt. Arbel
Friday, March 20: Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, “Jesus Boat” at Ginosar, Boat ride on Sea of Galilee
Saturday, March 21: Bethsaida, Tel Dan, High place of Jeroboam, Caesarea Philippi
Sunday, March 22: Beit Shan, Ein Harod, Tel Jezreel, Gilboa
Monday, March 23: Jericho, Mt. Nebo, Medeba
Tuesday, March 24: Qumran, Ein Gedi, Masada
Wednesday, March 25: Valley of Elah, Khirbet Qeiyafa, Lachish
Thursday, March 26: Mt. of Olives, Model of Jerusalem at Israel Museum, Gethsemane
Friday, March 27: Western Wall and Tunnels, Southern steps and area of Temple Mount with Robinson’s Arch, Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock
Saturday, March 28: Bethesda Pool, Gallicantu, Via Dolorosa, Garden Tomb
Sunday, March 29 (this happens to be “Palm Sunday”): City of David ruins, Vaulted Chamber and tunnel to Warren’s Shaft, Hezekiah’s Tunnel (HELLO, CLAUSTROPHOBIA!), Pool of Siloam
Monday, March 30: Bethlehem, Beersheba, Arad, Hebron
Tuesday, March 31: Mt. Gerazim/Ebal, Shiloh, Gibeah, Mizpah, Bethel/Ai
Wednesday, April 1: departure
I have MUCH to learn about the geography of Israel. I hope you will want to learn along with me where and how these historical sites fit into the accounts we find in scripture.
SAFETY AND PRAYER REQUESTS
Usually the first question we receive when someone hears of our upcoming trip is: “Aren’t you afraid to travel in an area so full of unrest?” Our travel agent / guide lives in Jerusalem and is aware of things that take place there on a daily basis. She feels that the warning from our State Department is unwarranted, and somewhat politically motivated. Tourism is very important to Israel, and those who protect the peace take their job very seriously. While we will certainly be on guard, and do what we can to avoid attracting undue interest from those around us, we aren’t afraid. Our aim and goal for this project is to affect and save souls. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” (Matthew 10:28).
Personally, I would like to ask special prayers for our parents. As many of you know, this is not the best time for us to be away. John’s father has been struggling for a couple of months with recurring pneumonia, and his mother (who isn’t in the greatest health) is handling some difficult health issues with her sister. My dad has a cognitive disorder and Mom is his full time caregiver. Since Doug and I will both be gone, we will be relying on Karen (Doug’s wife) and other relatives and friends to check in on them and handle any problems that may arise. While we realize there may never be the “perfect time” to be gone, we also know that we can’t always put off project and plans. All four of our parents are completely in support of our trip; we just ask for your prayers – and if you’re in the area, check in on them for us!
We would also like to be mindful of the family members we will be leaving in the States. Mat will be separated from his two children, Bailey and Kasey. Dewayne will be missing Christa and their five daughters: Haydn, Ava, Sophia, Corinne, and Olivia. Doug will be leaving Karen, his son Reagan and Reagan’s wife Baeli, and his daughter Lauren. Gary will miss his wife Michelle and their three young children: Lauren, Elizabeth, and Mark. Jon will leave his wife Kim and their children Gabby, Audrey, and Jon. Rick will leave his wife Lieh, daughter Catherine, and son Edmund. Of course we will miss Jordan and Erin, and Jake and Alyssa. Please pray for all of our loved ones – I certainly know what it’s like to remain behind. It’s not easy.
FOLLOW THIS BLOG
If you’d like to follow our trip, you can subscribe to this blog and receive the updates in your inbox. I will post them to Facebook as well – and they won’t be as long as this one! I’ll also include daily pictures.
I know this initial post has been somewhat lighthearted (I was trying to maintain your interest instead of boring you to death!) but we want to assure you that we will approach the trip with utmost seriousness and respect. We are so thankful to many people who have helped to support this work and will truly do our best to produce a high-quality, interesting, factual series that will encourage and build faith in our Heavenly Father. Again, we solicit your prayers and thank you for your encouragement!