Journeying with Abraham, the Father of Faith | CWR Staff | Catholic World Report
Author and filmmaker Stephen Ray discusses his ambitious video series, traveling in Iraq, filming in the Holy Land, and delving into the incredible life of Abraham
Stephen K. Ray was raised in a devout Baptist family and was very involved in the Baptist denomination as a teacher of Biblical studies. Steve and his wife Janet entered the Catholic Church in 1994. Since that time, Steve has been active as an author, speaker, blogger, apologist, and film producer. He is the author of Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church, Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church, and St. John's Gospel: A Bible Study and Commentary, all published by Ignatius Press.
Steve and Janet are currently writing and producing a 10-video series for Ignatius Press called The Footprints of God: The Story of Salvation From Abraham to Augustine, filmed on location in the Holy Land and other parts of the Middle East. His website is www.catholic-convert.com. The most recent film, titled Abraham: Father of Faith and Works, is now available from Ignatius Press. He corresponded recently with Catholic World Report, shortly before departing for another trip to the Holy Land.
CWR: This movie about Abraham is the eighth of 10 videos in this long and challenging project. When did you start filming this series and what sort of time, energy, and effort has gone into the project?
Ray: Long and challenging, indeed! It all began in 1995, the year after we converted to the Catholic Church from Evangelical Protestants. We took our family to Israel to see land of Our Lord and Lady, the land of the Bible and Catholic history. When I stepped off the plane in Tel Aviv I fell to the tarmac and kissed the ground with tears welling up in my eyes. This adventure with our family had a profound impact on all of us. It made me want to share the land and its story with everyone.
The next step came in the year 2000 when I woke up in the middle of the night. I am not certain to this day whether it was a dream, a revelation, an angel, or simply indigestion. But it was all in my head and I knew exactly what I had to do.
As soon as I woke up I grabbed my wife Janet and shook her and said, "We have to do a video documentary on the whole story of salvation for my Catholic perspective!” Shaking and scared since I woke her up so quickly, she said, “You woke me up in the middle of the night, scaring me to death, to tell me that! We can’t even take good pictures — how does God expect us to make movies? Go back to sleep!"
But I couldn’t sleep. I was inspired and trembling. I jumped out of bed and ran to my computer. By the time the sun came up that morning I had put together the outline for the documentary series. I knew the titles, the biblical people we would feature, the places we would film, and the whole drama I wanted to present. My target audience would be the Catholic family. It could not be a boring “talking head” documentary but had to be a rollicking adventure. We wanted to bring the lands of the Bible and the Catholic Church into the homes of every Catholic family.
CWR: Speaking of adventures, what was it like filming in Iraq, Turkey, and Israel?