Thunder in the Holy Land Update

Thunder in the Holy Land is a new, high-definition video Bible study series produced by Pastor Charles Byrd, host of the popular In Search of the Truth programs. It has some of the look and feel of a National Geographic Special or Discovery Channel program, featuring young reporters on location in the Middle East. This series is unique, allowing local pastors to replace the host and thus “customize” the program, becoming media pastors in their own right. This approach, and the follow-through interaction method, has an amazing track record of effectiveness. Eighty to ninety percent of those who started the pilot Bible study series finished it, and 70–80 percent made a commitment for Christ and are still in the church a year later!

Levi Longoria on a monastery overlooking Jerusalem. (Photo: Dave Rohde.)

On Location in Israel

The Thunder team left the comforts of “normal” on May 25, 2011, making Bethlehem, Israel, their home base and traveling all over the Holy Land, as well as Egypt and Jordan. Our first dilemma was how to transport eight people throughout the region, especially after discovering that it would cost $12,000–18,000 to rent a van. Worse yet, this did not include fuel costs—and we wouldn’t even be able to drive it into Bethlehem! God is seldom early, but He’s never late. At the last moment He made it possible for us to rent a van we could drive everywhere for only $5,000. Though not the most comfortable vehicle, “Old Blue” was such a blessing as it took us on shoots from Galilee to the deserts of southern Israel.

Andrea Endries reports from the countryside. (Photo: Dave Rohde.)

God also opened doors for us in Egypt. After e-mails, online applications, and phone calls, we still had no response from the Ministry of Antiquities concerning our request to shoot video at the Cairo Museum. Pastor Anwar Eskander, Secretary for the Egypt Field of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was very helpful, but not very encouraging when he told us it could take days or weeks to secure such permission! So on Sunday we started out with our interpreter and visited two offices, miles apart, before the Lord moved Mr. Ashraf Salah to grant us permission.

At the museum, Satan tried to discourage us once again by making us wait. After three long hours (and many prayers) we finally secured our clearance, and by closing time on Sunday, we had shot the video we needed for our Talking Stones episode.

Charles and Karen Byrd at the Dome of the Rock. (Photo: Charles Byrd.)

The Work Continues

For 140 days the team was busy writing, shooting, and editing core material for the new series. Pastor Byrd was often up at 4:00 a.m. writing scripts, then directing the team in the field during the day. Our three reporters, Levi Longoria, Andrea Endries, and Stephen Fowler, did double and triple duty, serving as talent, audio, video, and post-production crew. Andrea and Levi even tried their hand at script writing—with positive results!

We left Israel on October 3, with footage for more than 20 episodes. Currently we are continuing production on the host’s portion, as well as on the graphics. This project moves forward only by the prayers and financial support of those who have caught the vision for this new paradigm in Bible studies. We have no doubt that God’s hand is in it, and we’re thankful to be under Him! Visit our website,, for testimonies, pictures, and video clips, or to donate to this project. And watch for Thunder in the Holy Land, coming soon to 3ABN!

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