The idea for That the World May Know films began in 1992 when Michigan entrepreneur Ed Prince became exposed to Ray Vander Laan's unique method of Bible teaching. Ray, or RVL as he is affectionately known, has always believed that to more greatly understand and appreciate the Bible, one had to have a sense of the land and the culture from which it sprang. Biblical analogies and examples, while meaningful and helpful even to this day, were first meant to convey God's truth to particular people in a particular time and place. So the more fully we can appreciate those times and places, the more fully we can respond to the power of the Word.
So in 1992 Ed Prince generously offered to underwrite the development of a film series that would capture RVL's teachings to make them available to a wider audience. Director Bob Garner was secured, massive cameras were shipped to Israel, the first 5 sets were produced, and the broader church ate them up. Focus on the Family experienced a hunger for the series unlike anything they had ever seen. And that hunger has continued.
In 2003, sets 6 and 7 were co-directed by Garner and John Grooters, and the style of the films became much more consistent with the experience of an actual RVL trip. The programs moved to HD and were shot in 16 x 9 aspect ratios. These teachings reached beyond Israel and brought viewers to sites like Ephesus, Laodicea, Cappadocia, Galatia, and other biblical locations in modern Turkey. The theme was discipleship as the lessons followed Paul through his first missionary journey.
Since receiving his Master's of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1976, Ray Vander Laan has been actively involved in studying and teaching Jewish culture using the methods of Jewish education. He has continued graduate studies in Jewish Studies in the United States, Israel, Turkey and Egypt. He has been a teacher for 35 years and is an ordained minister with the Christian Reformed Church. He has also authored a book entitled Echoes of His Presence, published by Focus on the Family. Vander Laan founded That the World May Know Ministries in 1998. Ray has taken over 10,000 people with him on his study tours of Israel, Turkey and Egypt.
Ray's preaching and teaching ministry is focused on understanding the Bible in light of the historical and cultural context in which God placed it. This perspective on the Bible highlights God's call for His people to be a transforming influence on their culture. He uses research of the top scholars in the fields of archaeology, history, and Biblical study as tools to explore the Biblical text ever more deeply. His gifts, expertise, and calling are to link that cultural information and the Bible so that its message applies to our lives today in very practical ways.