Holy Land Pilgrimage Goes Extreme in The Road Less Traveled
- Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Brandon Trones was puzzled by the consumerism and materialism he feels is gripping America. So, he decided to go green by going guerilla—taking his camera into restricted areas and sacred sites in the lands of the Bible.
As producer and host of The Road Less Traveled: Hunger for the Holy Land, Trones documents his quest to visit 40 holy landmarks while fasting 40 days in hopes that his journey will inspire others to take their faith seriously and to reduce their consumption.
The impetus for Trones' quest began when he discovered some sobering statistics. "It's no mystery that the United States is statistically the fattest country on the planet," he explains. "We consume more resources that any other nation on the planet. Then I noticed another statistic—America has more churches than any country in the world."
For Trones, those stats represented a disconnect between what Christians believe and what they do. "The country that has the most churches is also taking the most from the rest of the world," he observes. "Something about that just didn't sit right with me. It was about time that we infused people and electrified their faith."
Sitting back and merely complaining about this problem was never an option. His inquisitive spirit compelled him to find a way to make a difference. Trones recalls, "I wanted to get people to see the reality of the historical facts of what they believe … and wake them up out of their slumber."
As the idea for a way to combat this problem emerged, his faith and love of history fell into the mix. "Ever since I picked up a Bible, I couldn't help but be interested in the Holy Land," Trones says. "It's where all the stories take place. It's the hub of holy activity for Jesus and the prophets. You want to see the place for yourself to get a concrete picture of what actually happened."
One day, Trones had an epiphany. The Bible, his love of history, and the problem of American consumerism intersected at an often misunderstood and neglected point—fasting. "I was reading about how Jesus was casting out a demon and he had a quote that said, ‘This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting,' and that scripture just really hit me," he explains. "Then I looked at today's Christians and realized that there is just no fasting. We don't fast anymore as a people."
Trones' training is in archeology. Because of his background, historical research and biblical study are two of his uniquely wedded passions. "I had been a Christian for some time and I'm a huge history buff. I was doing my own studies and could not for the life of me find another production that would feature these historical and biblical sites and show them for what they are. There was just a lack of material out there."
Since he couldn't find the type of resource he was looking for, he decided to take on the project himself. Thus, The Road Less Traveled: Hunger for the Holy Land was born.
Against his doctor's advice and without regard for his own safety, Trones set out on a 40-day adventure to visit 40 sacred sites relating to events and places in the Bible. If the political unrest in the area wasn't enough cause for concern, Trones upped the ante by undertaking a 40-day fast during the entire trip. "I had a couple of questions," Trones says. "I wanted to find out how real were these places and artifacts. Are these just things set up by the government to bring in tourism? With that was the question, ‘what does fasting do?' How am I going to be changed because of this?"
The Road Less Traveled records his daily activities in his quest to verify his faith and challenge our assumptions about food. "I had dabbled in fasting here and there—a day or two days—so jumping into this 40-day fast was a new experience for me. I really didn't know what to expect physically or spiritually," Trones admits. "My overall goal was to see what kind of blessing I was going to get out of this and see how I was going to change as a person."
Day by day, the physical change to the traveler's body became increasingly apparent. He lost over 26 pounds, or about one-sixth his body weight. The rigors of the ordeal began to take its toll. During the first several days of his adventure, Trones traveled with a group of American tourists. "The battle was intense," he admits. "There were times when I was on the tour for the first ten days … I had to sit with them through these meals to keep up appearances so I didn't get kicked off this tour and I had to sit there and watch them eat. The temptation was almost enough to push you past the brink."
Overcoming his body's demands for food wasn't the only obstacle that confronted Trones on his adventure. Determined to capture the holy sites he visited on film, he often resorted to guerilla filming techniques in order to foil security systems, slip past guards, and get his video footage.
Despite his weakened condition, Trones had little regard for imposed security in restricted sacred areas. "I've had such a fervor for such a long time to find these sites and to show them," he says. "I was excited and kind of giddy whenever we would get near a site. When you're separated by a simple wall or by someone saying you can't go in without a justifiable reason, my excitement overcame any fear I had. Seeing the guns and the barbed wire never really got to me."
Through his covert filming, Trones came to appreciate the power of fasting. He credits fasting for his heightened spiritual awareness to the Holy Spirit's guidance in his quest. "I would have a list of places I would want to sneak in to in order to get footage, and I would just get these incredibly strong inklings beyond what I'd call a gut feeling. I would get an incredibly strong sensation to go to a certain place at a certain time."
Trones hopes his extreme pilgrimage and the tangible effects of fasting he experienced become a life-changing lesson for viewers of The Road Less Traveled. "The Bible is real. The proof in the Holy Land supports it as fact," he concludes. "That should help us to realize that the things that Jesus spoke of, like denying your flesh, is real. That should curb our consumer-driven society. It should also encourage us to take the things we can do without and use those things to help others."
If the message of his documentary hits its mark, The Road Less Traveled could result in many Americans consuming a little less and focusing more on the foundations of the Christian faith.
For more information about Brandon Trones and The Road Less Traveled: Hunger for the Holy Land, please visit www.theroadlesstraveledmovie.com.
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