Dewayne Bryant, Doug Garner, Evidence, Gary Massey, John Moore, Jonathan Moore, Mat Cain, Micah Moore, Philip Brumback, Rick Brumback, Team Input, Video Segments, Wrap-Up

The Bible Lands Project Is Just Beginning!

During Jesus’ final earthly days, He made His way from Jericho back toward Jerusalem, knowing the “brood of vipers” that He would face there. Luke 19 records how He drew near to Bethany, and acquired a colt to carry Him the rest of the way. As the colt must have carefully picked its way down the steep face of the Mount of Olives, into the narrow Kidron valley, and back up the equally steep face of the Temple Mount, people laid their cloaks in the path in front of Him in a gesture of honor and respect, rejoicing and loudly praising God, saying “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Pharisees in the crowd wanted Jesus to rebuke His disciples, but He said “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out!”

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From the top of the Mount of Olives looking toward the Eastern gate, the path Jesus would have taken into the city.

 

And the stones did cry out not many days later, when Jesus “cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit,” and the curtain of the temple was torn in two, and the earth shook, and the rocks were split (Matt. 27:50-51).

Last Sunday, standing at the top of the Citadel in Jerusalem, one of the highest points in the city, I looked up at the clear sky above and far down to the stone streets below and tried to imagine what that dark day was like. When the “sun’s light failed” (Luke 23:45) and there was darkness over the whole land, and the earth shook, and the rocks split, and the tombs were opened. What did His mother think – did she even notice the changes in the atmosphere around her, as absorbed as she must have been in the agony of her Son? Did any of the malicious Pharisees feel any sort of unease at the unnatural events triggered by their actions?

Walking where Jesus – and so many of God’s people – walked, made me want to see the actual events that the Bible speaks about. What if stones could speak? What would they say?

If the stones in the Jezreel valley could speak, how would they describe the vast number of Amalekites and Midianites, and their battle against Gideon and his 300 men?

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Jezreel Valley

 

If the stones high atop the cliff in Nazareth could speak, how would they explain the mob mentality as those from Jesus’ own hometown became infuriated with Him and sought to throw Him from its precipice?

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The precipice at Nazareth

 

If the stones along the shore of the Sea of Galilee could speak, how would they describe the spiritually – and physically – hungry crowds who gathered to hear Him speak from a boat offshore?

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Would the black stones paving the streets of Dan tell of the golden calves and the terrible idolatry encouraged by Jeroboam?

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How would the dry, hot stones of Masada describe sheltering David from his determined enemies?

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And the stones that David drew from the brook in the Elah Valley. If they could speak, what would they tell of the Israelite army facing off against the Philistine army? What of the fatal stone that sunk into Goliath’s forehead?

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I would love to hear what the massive stones that make up the Herodian Temple’s retaining wall would say about their placement: how they were quarried, transported, and put into place. Who was in charge of their design and their placement?

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And the stone in the tomb where Jesus was lain: imagine what all it could describe! Joseph of Arimathea caring for Jesus’ lifeless body…Pilate’s guards sealing the tomb…breath and life coming back into Jesus’ body as He rose and folded the handkerchief that covered His face, the tears shed by the women coming to see the tomb, the great earthquake and the angel descending to roll back the stone!

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We have seen a lot of stones over the past few weeks. We’ve walked over a LOT of them, climbed on some, and skipped a few into the various bodies of water we’ve seen. There are five smooth stones in my suitcase waiting to come home to Texas with me, to remind me of God’s faithfulness in the most challenging of circumstances.

Figuratively speaking, the stones do cry out, but with real messages that are found in His word. These places are real. These were actual people who lived, breathed, loved, and died. Some were faithful, and some were not. Tremendous archaeological and geographical evidence supports what is written in God’s word. And this was one of the major goals that we prayed we’d be able to accomplish: to be able to show and present much of the evidence that is visible in the land of the Bible. To build and increase the faith of those who already believe in Jesus and His message, and give a solid basis and foundation for those who may not be sure.

And I believe that goal will be met: with over 24 hours of video captured at more than 70 different sites (and often multiple locations within the same site,) a database of nearly 5000 high resolution, quality, digital images recorded (with special equipment that recorded exact location, elevation, and direction into the Metadata {I don’t have any idea what that is!} of the images), and five different men who, each in their own distinctive style, eloquently and persuasively presented biblical evidence and proof.

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For fourteen straight days, we rose early and hit the road with a packed agenda. Each time we got out of the van, Micah and Philip would say: “Glidecam?” Mat and Doug: “Yep.” Micah and Philip: “Tripod? Monopod? Slider? Backpack?” Mat and Doug: “Yep.” This was some serious equipment. “Who’s got the mic and transmitter?” On and off the bus, many, many times each day. And we are so thankful that the equipment survived the trip without any serious damage: if anything had broken, we would most likely not have been able to replace it in Israel.

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And this is just the beginning of production. We captured just the tip of the iceberg in Israel. Now Mat and Doug will begin editing work on the video and stills. John, Gary, Jon, Rick, and Dewayne will continue working on their scripts and will record in the studio over the B-roll video and images. It is a long process, but I am certain that the final result will be something long-lasting and truly worthwhile.

The lessons (titles and grouping still in planning stages) are as follows (and this definitely isn’t an exhaustive list of filming sites, it’s just the ones John and I can put together right now):

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John Moore:

1) The View From Mt. Carmel (filmed at various locations in the Mt. Carmel range, the Muhraka Carmelite Monastery, the Jezreel Valley, Haifa, the Coast of Dor)

2) A Message From Megiddo (filmed in the ruins of ancient Megiddo)

3) The Power of Jesus in Galilee (filmed at Mt. Arbel, Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, and Magdala)

4) Judah: David’s Training Ground of Faith (filmed at Masada, Ein Gedi, the Elah Valley, the Judean Hill Country, and Bethlehem)

5) Walking in the Steps of Abraham (filmed in the Negev Basin, Beersheba, Hebron, and Bethel)

6) Jerusalem: An Unforgettable City (filmed at the Mount of Olives,  Gallicantu, the Citadel, Kidron Valley, Mt. Scopus, the Jerusalem Model, Shrine of the Book, and Hezekiah’s Broad Wall

7) The Testimony of An Ancient Tunnel (filmed at Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the Gihon Spring, Warren’s Shaft, and the Pool of Siloam)

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Jonathan Moore:

1) Growing Up in Nazareth (filmed at Nazareth Village and the Precipice at Nazareth ridge)

2) Bethesda: Pool of Mercy (filmed at the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem and the Bethesda Pool at St. Anne’s)

3) Jericho: The City of Rahab (filmed in Jericho)

4) Mount Gilboa and Beth She’an: Symbols of Pride Brought Low (filmed at Beth She’an and Mt. Gilboa)

5) Bethlehem: Birthplace of Kings (filmed in Bethlehem and the shepherd’s fields)

6) Walking With God on Mount Nebo (filmed at Mount Nebo in Jordan, the Medeba Plateau)

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Gary Massey:

1) Bethsaida: The Lost City of Jesus (filmed at Bethsaida)

2) Caesarea By the Sea: Rome’s Capital in Israel (filmed at the palace ruins in Caesarea, and the Aqueduct)

3) Dan: City of Unfaithfulness (filmed at various locations in Tel Dan)

4) Masada: City of Misplaced Faith (filmed at various locations at Masada)

5) Mount of Olives: Place of Rest (filmed at the Mount of Olives, the “Grotto”, the tomb of Lazarus in Bethany)

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Jonathan and Gary together:

1) Hours Before His Death: The Arrest and Trials of Jesus (filmed at the Golden Gate at the Eastern Wall, Gethsemane, the Grotto, Gallicantu)

2) Via Dolorosa: The Suffering and Death of Jesus (filmed at the Garden Tomb, the Via Dolorosa, Ormariyah Muslim Boy’s School – likely site of the Antonia Fortress, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher)

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Dewayne Bryant:

1) Khirbet Qeiyafa (filmed at Khirbet Qeiyafa)

2) The Treasures of Qumran (filmed at various locations at Qumran)

3) The Western Wall: A Window into the First Century (filmed in Jerusalem at the Western Wall, the tunnels below the Western Wall, and the Jerusalem Archaeological Park)

4) The City of David (filmed at King David’s Palace, the House of Ahiel)

5) Archaeology and the Bible (filmed at Magdala, Lachish, the Museum of Archaeology)

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Rick Brumback:

1) Where Have They Laid My Lord? (filmed at the Garden Tomb, Herod’s Family Tomb , Church of Holy Sepulcher)

2) Shiloh, Gibeah, and Mizpah: Lessons from Ancient Israel (filmed at Gibeah, Shiloh, and Mizpah)

3) The Southern Steps of the Temple: Coming to the Presence of the Lord (filmed on the southern steps)

4) The Presence and Preaching of Jesus in Galilee (filmed at Cana, the Mt. of Beatitudes, Caesarea Philippi, Mt Arbel , Magdala, Panius

5) The Temple Competitors: Beersheba, Arad, and Their Religious Practices (filmed at Tel Arad, Negev Basin, Beersheeba)

6) Gideon, a Man of Faith (filmed in the Harod Valley, Springs of Harod, Tel Jezreel)

 

I’ve mentioned before that things are in a jumble in my mind. Some of the men who have been before said that the first trip saturates your mind with so much information that it is hard to process. I can attest to this! But already I am seeing how puzzle pieces fit together. Distances and locations make more sense. Terrain and topography play a part in Bible stories. Seeing the sheer height of the precipice at Nazareth help me understand that the people were intent on not just hurting, but killing Jesus. The hills on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee make it easy to picture the demon-filled swine running headfirst into the Sea. The stark, dry, unforgiving Judean wilderness gave me a mental picture of Jesus’ fast and temptation.

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I loved our time in Israel. I loved the people we grew close to, especially Tsvi and Yossi. John and Jon especially had some meaningful, respectful conversations with Tsvi, who is Jewish, about what we believe, and who Jesus was and is.

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I never felt afraid, even in the areas where some felt we needed some protection. It was a valuable learning experience for me to see and feel what many women live with today. While in Hebron, waiting for John and Mat to finish filming the segment at the Oaks of Mamre, the little boys (one with rocks in his hands) danced around wanting our attention. I’m never quite sure how to handle a situation like this – if you pay attention, won’t they just continue to seek your attention? But on the other hand, isn’t it just humanity and brotherly love to treat another human being the way you want to be treated? This was confirmed when Hashim (our guide in Hebron) said to one of our young men: “You know what he’s asking, don’t you? He just wants you to smile.” I know it’s simplistic (and not the answer to every racial and prejudicial issue,) but it struck me that a smile, a nod, a handshake would go so much farther to forge a bond between human beings than avoiding their eyes or turning our backs.

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I asked for input from the guys involved in the project, since you’re probably all tired of MY input! I received quite a bit back from them.

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Mat said: “I consider it a great blessing to be a part of this project and work with men who are passionate about the history, archeology and geography of the area and the Bible. Each day was completely exhausting but a rewarding experience. I am thankful to WVBS and John Moore as well as for everyone’s hard work. But most importantly, I am thankful to God for the safe journey and for allowing me to be a part of it. And now on to post production.”

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Doug wrote more than I’ve ever seen him write (so you can blame the length of this post on him!): “Well, John or Rudy, one of them asked me if I’d be willing to do something like this a few years ago and it sounded intriguing. Not knowing what time of the year it would hit would be the kicker. Too late into spring or summer would be a no-go because of our business…Mid-March was decided and I was in. I love to travel and I love helping out WVBS. Mat and I worked on the Noah’s Ark project in the Netherlands a couple of years ago and we worked well together. John Moore produced a fast paced schedule covering a TON of ground in just over 2 weeks maximizing the cost to work there. Mat and I discussed how we wanted to make this project really pop, but we were worried that we wouldn’t have the needed time to get those really nice creative shots to do so.  We wanted to acquire some new gear that would help us get some interesting looking shots that WVBS hasn’t really utilized before, and Rudy agreed to purchase a Slider and a new model Glidecam. Thanks Rudy! Mat needed me to try and get as much B-Roll with the Glidecam as possible after I finished shooting photos.  Not having used a Glidecam before, Mat and I took it out a couple times and practiced with it. I took it home to practice for a couple months and I took to it pretty well. Of course my primary role was to shoot still photos of the Bible Lands and Archeological sites. John wanted to build a database of images that could be used in teaching and publications to be used within the church. I acquired a few key pieces of equipment that would help me. One was a GPS device that entered the exact location, direction and elevation into the Metadata of my images.

Well, the fast paced schedule was just like we thought, barely enough time to get the necessary video and still photo work, and not much time left to get the creative B-Roll, but we did the best we could. After about the 3rd day or so Mat and I were beaten down exhausted, and we discussed a few schedule tweaks with John that would help us better get what we needed to get. John did a marvelous job of organizing this crazy schedule and maximizing our time at each site. No one else could have done it better, I’m convinced. He had a prayer and a few encouraging words every morning before we drove off from the hotel. I admit sometimes I felt we just needed to get going quicker, knowing what all we needed to cover, but the time spent in prayer was worth every second. Long story short, we pretty much got everything we HAD to get, and we feel like we mostly achieved our goal of getting some creative shots to bring the video to life.

The people on this project were top notch. The 5 guys doing the A-Rolls were definitely the smartest guys in the bus, but never a smidgen of ego, just a willingness to get the work done together. I enjoyed listening to their knowledge of the OT. John is in his place over there. He teaches Bible students every day about the places we were going, and he soaks up every second of his time here. Topography, geography and geology are his “thing”. Rick Brumback is one of the kindest guys I know. He has a gentle way of speaking and teaching that is refreshing. He has been a blessing to my family in other ways. Jonathan Moore has a great knowledge base and experience dealing with people that was an asset to the group on several occasions. Gary likewise knows his Bible history and loves to gently debate with whoever he can. DeWayne is pretty quiet but I recall him fist-pumping with excitement when he saw a certain piece of broken pottery in a museum that he had evidently known about as I was shooting it! He definitely loves his archeology. Mat is a pro. He puts the speakers at ease and is patient with them when they have to do re-takes. He was a working machine the whole time. Carla (my sister) was always writing. We joked with her about trying to “make the blog”. “Whattaya gotta do to make that blog??” Jokes would fly hoping to be quoted in the next one. Micah and Philip carried our heavy gear everywhere and were “usually” 🙂 🙂 within a yell’s distance when we needed them. Micah would sometimes accompany Mat and me to dinner at night which sometimes involved street food and a coffee stop. Mat and he always had to make a “Candy Run” for the next day’s marathon.

I was surprised at the green lush, almost Hawaii like terrain up north. Jerusalem is all different kinds of people worshipping mostly different things and at the same time they mostly hate each other. Something doesn’t make sense about that. But it is where it all happened. I don’t LOVE it like John does. I’m glad he does, because it helps him teach and it helps students learn as we are supposed learn from the past. I think having been there will help me picture the places and locations as I study, but for the most part I had no time for reflection. Am I glad I went? Yes! I love what WVBS does and I love my brother-in-law and what he does. I will always be at their beck and call.”

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Gary said that the words he would use to describe the two and a half weeks were: “Overwhelming. Mind-blowing. Whirlwind. I saw many new things that I didn’t see the first time. My understanding of how the land and the tribes fit together was increased. The importance of unity between believers was powerfully illustrated by the closeness to antagonistic competing religions.

I loved the camaraderie between brothers who have such a high level of scholarship but share the same faith. I was tremendously motivated by hearing the other teachers make their presentations.”

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Dewayne said: “I am thankful for the opportunity to see Israel and participate in a project that will help bring the Bible to life for people who don’t have the ability to travel to the lands of the Bible. It wasn’t just a great experience because of the scenery and the sites – it was great because of the people with whom I had the privilege to work.”

 

 

 

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Jonathan said: “My time in Israel this past March was everything I prayed it would be. Being one of the few on this trip that doesn’t work in a ministerial role within the Church, I prayed for an opportunity to do something for His glory and His Kingdom using what God has given me in my life. Something that could make a difference and reach others that needed a message of hope, love and assurance in God’s promises. I have always felt as though if God’s word can be trusted, then we can trust in His promises. And His promises are full of Grace, Mercy and Hope…Three things I and all of us need. What we did on this trip, among many things, was confirm, through history and archeology, that His word is true and reliable. But more than that, we shared a message of hope for those who are willing to repent and change their life. This was the message of the prophets and this message was at the heart of our Lord’s ministry.

Having been to Israel twice prior, I wasn’t sure what I would take away from this trip. I wasn’t sure what impact it would have on me and I on it. Without question, my first trip to Israel was an incredible experience, but overwhelming, hard to connect all of the synapses in my brain.  The second was better because I was able to share some of Israel with my family, but it was all too brief.

This trip was such an amazing blessing for so many reasons, but most of all it was being able to work with some of the most Godly people I know. And some of them I’ve known for over 20 years. To have had over 2 weeks to study, listen and discuss the history of God’s people among fellow students of God’s word IN Israel, was an experience hard to put into words.

I’m so grateful to have been able to play some small part in this project, and I pray it will reach many souls searching for truth and hope. I am humbled by the selflessness of those I worked with on this trip. I’m moved by their faith and love for the Lost. I know that I am better person because of this trip and I know that I will be a better teacher of His word. I can only pray that God continues to open doors for me to do His will. I can only hope I have the chance to once again reunite with the amazing Christians that made this trip what it was. I pray that all we did glorified the Father.

Mathew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

 

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Rick said “Even while in worship this morning, I found myself reading Old Testament narratives and picturing the setting where we visited. I will never read the Bible text the same way again. It has taken on a depth made possible by becoming more acquainted with the land in which the events occurred.”

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Philip said “I understand why things happened where they took place after this trip. One example was Mount Carmel. It makes the Bible story much more clear to me.”

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John’s comment: “It was a faith-building, educational, and life-changing experience that will forever enhance my teaching and personal life. The whole trip (filming process) was one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever loved.”

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Micah told me that things were so fast-paced and busy, he wasn’t able to focus on details as well as he would’ve liked, and it will take him some time to sort things out in his mind. But he is excited to read and see the Bible in a different light now that he has been there.

 

What a blessing this has been! I am so thankful to so many of you and to our God, who blessed us over and over again – like He promises – “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

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The group on our first night in Caesarea, before Dewayne arrived. In the center is Lindy, owner of Blue and White Travel here in Israel. She helped tremendously with so many organizational details and obtaining permits and setting up our guides.

 

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1 thought on “The Bible Lands Project Is Just Beginning!”

  1. Reblogged this on Dewayne Bryant and commented:
    I was privileged to participate in a video project in Israel recently. The result will be a number of lessons titled, “Faith Lesson in Bible Lands.” I’m very thankful for all who participated, and especially the guys responsible for video and photography. I will be eagerly waiting to share the details concerning the finished product, which is being produced through World Video Bible School. Please take a moment to read all about this fantastic project and imagine all the great things it’s going to accomplish!

    Like

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