Friday, February 28, 2014

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Following Footprints: Filmmakers Retrace Abrahim’s Journey in Iraq
FEBRUARY 27, 2014 IN FEATURES, MARCH 2014 | 8 VIEWS | LEAVE A RESPONSE
Native Detroiters Stephen and Janet Ray spent part of January in Iraq retracing Abraham’s journey in filming the seventh installment of a 10-part video series titled, Footprints of God – The Story of Salvation from Abraham to Augustus.

In filming the documentaries, the Rays hope their work will serve as a proof point of Christianity and the existence of Jesus.

“The purpose of the series to show the lands of the Bible and that they truly existed and to be a defense mechanism for apologetics (defenders of the faith),” said Stephen Ray. “It also explains the force of the Catholic Church.”

Iraq was crucial to the story of Abraham because it’s where his story begins in the land of the Chaldeans.

“Iraq is the cradle of civilization,” Ray said. “It’s where the Garden of Eden, Babylon, Nineveh all were and where the Bible begins. Every Christian should go there and see it.”

The Rays were in Iraq January 7-11. They landed in Basra, traveled to Nasiriyah and filmed in Ur, the homeland of Chaldeans. The Rays are following the same exact path and filming the very places Abraham visited.

“Abraham was a pagan idol worshiper,” Ray said. “In Joshua Chapter 24, Abraham was told his father and ancestors lived beyond the (Euphrates) river and served other gods. Then, God’s glory called Abraham to leave his heritage, graves of his ancestors in Mesopotamia and go to Haran (present-day Turkey) then to Canaan (modern-day Israel).”

“We will next travel to Haran where Isaac and Jacob met their wives and then Bethel, Hebron (where his tomb is), and Mount Moriah where Abraham offered up his son Isaac in a sacrifice to God.”

The Rays filmed in Iraq without any security. They were accompanied by a two-person film crew, a driver, guide and Ministry of Tourism official. Ray said they never felt unsafe and had a wonderful time.

“We liked it so much, I plan to go back and take 25 people on a pilgrimage there, likely in 2016,” he said. “It’s been a fun adventure. I’ve fought snakes, ridden camels and fell in the mud. It’s good family entertainment.”

Ray said they video will be completed by Christmas of this year. It will be the seventh of 10 and can be purchased through his website, www.catholicconvert.com.

“It’s going to be a busy year,” Ray said. “I also have 10 pilgrimages including Rome, the Holy Land and Ireland; 30 speeches at parish missions; and two books to finish. Plus my daughter is getting married this year.”

The entire series so far has cost more than $2 million to produce with each video costing between $200,000 and $250,000. It’s mostly funded by San Francisco co-based Ignatius Press, the largest Catholic publisher in the United States. Ray also has done some fundraising on his own to the tune of more than $100,000. People can donate through the website www.foghelp.com.

Ray said the cost is attributed to the high quality of the series.

“We are doing this professionally and it costs a lot of money to move a thousand pounds of video equipment across countries,” he said. “It’s an expensive project but we want it to be a top-notch production.”

The idea of producing the video series came to Ray in the middle of the night in fall 2000, six years after the Ray family converted to Catholicism from Baptist.

“I am not sure if it was a dream, a revelation or indigestion,” Ray said. “I woke up and shook Janet and told her we have to do a 10-part video series on salvation from a Catholic perspective. That night, it was as if the Holy Spirit filled my mind. I typed out the whole outline of the video series and I knew what I had to do, the titles of all the videos, and called Ignatius Press and they said, ‘let’s do it.’”

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