Tony Moore makes 'Footsteps of Jesus' series
By Katie Scarvey
You may have seen Tony Moore on TV, talking about the Holy Land in a series called “In the Footsteps of Paul,” which seeks to bring to life the historical and cultural world of the Bible. Actually, Moore prefers to call it Bible Land.
“I don’t consider it holy,” he says, “but it is where the stories happened, so it’s special.”
Those who knew Moore when he was a teenager in Salisbury might be surprised to learn how far he’s come since the wild days of his youth.
Moore, who now lives in Chino, Calif., was in town recently following the death of his father, Billy Moore, and he found a few hours to talk to the Post about his life’s path.
He moved to Rowan County with his family when he was in the sixth grade. As a teenager, he was, by his own account, somewhat out of control, which caused his parents, Billy and Monarcha, to send him to boarding school.
He returned at 17 to enroll at West Rowan High, and he remembers the principal telling his parents that he needed to cut his hair.
He had what he calls his “road to Damascus” moment while at a Rolling Stones concert in Charlotte in 1972.
He was taking some hallucinogenic drugs then, he admits, which might account for the two serpents he saw on the floor. Real or not, they made him think about the garden of good and evil.
Later, the song “Sympathy for the Devil” also seemed to be a sign. He says he heard a voice saying, “I’m real, and you denied my existence.”
At the end of the concert, when he heard the road manager say, “You’re through,” Moore thought he was probably a goner.
He went to a party afterward and pondered on what the evening meant.
The next day, he went to see his grandmother, Grace Robbins,“a lovely Christian lady” who gave him a book called “The Desire of Ages.”
He read it and was particularly struck by one passage:
“Jesus was treated as we deserve to be treated, that we might be treated as he deserved….”
“So I gave my heart to Jesus,” Moore says.
As a young adult, Moore began working with an evangelist in New England, a man who later became the speaker for the “It is Written” telecast. Moore helped build a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Stamford, Conn., where he lived for 10 years.
He later moved to California where he continued a life of faith.
He says he never had a particular interest in the Holy Land until he took a class in Biblical archaeology and a slide show captured his attention.
In 1986, he spent five weeks with an archeology class in Jerusalem, where he began to make connections about the land’s history and geography and what he’d read in the Bible.
Inspired, the very next year he took a solo trip, traveling with a backpack from Athens to Damascus. He recalls some profoundly moving experiences, like “stumbling on a place” that was a side of a mountain — which was starkly, amazingly white.
“It’s the most incredible natural wonder,” he says.
In Damascus, he began to get interested in the apostle Paul, “the Moses of the New Testament,” he says.
He took photographs on his travels and developed a multimedia slide series on Biblical archaeology.
In 1999, while pastoring a large church in Southern California, he was leading a group of pastors in the footsteps of Paul through Greece, Turkey and Syria. While there, his youth pastor, Danny Chan, suggested that they make movies of the programs, rather than simply using slides.
Moore wasn’t convinced.
“That’s why I’m the senior pastor and you are the youth pastor, “ he thought.
Undeterred, the youth pastor shot some video while they were in Tarsus and made a demo movie “with maps, airplanes and Indiana Jones music in the background.” Moore was sold.
In 2001, he began to film his first video series, “In the Footsteps of Paul.” The series was filmed entirely on location — in all the important places in Paul’s life, including Turkey, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Greece and Italy.
He quickly saw the possibilities as people responded positively to the series, including people who were educated but weren’t church-goers.
In 2003, Moore quit his job as evangelism ministries director of It is Written Television and started his non-profit group, The Biblical World, the goal of which was to “produce new and compelling media that communicates the faith of Jesus to contemporary western-thinking people.” He then began to focus on his Paul series, which he promoted with companion study guides.
With a worldwide audience, the series has become quite successful. It’s seen in churches and schools and is aired frequently on DirecTV and Dish Network.
Moore’s recent project, which he’s spent the past four years on, is a 28-episode series called “Tracing the Footsteps of Jesus,” which he hopes to be completed in a few months. He’s also shot a pilot for the Discovery Channel.
In doing the “Jesus” series, Moore says the most surprising thing he gained was an understanding of the first century messiah mentality for Jewish people. To understand first century Judaism has been very revealing, he says, about why the Jewish people have had “problems with Jesus as the messiah.”
For more information about Tony Moore and The Biblical World, go to www.biblicalworld.org.