Docu-series brings biblical and modern Israel alive, says Loyiso Bala

Loyiso Bala, left, at Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) at the Edith Wolfson Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, during a trip to Israel to film a docu-series ‘Israel Unveiled’

The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) Africa Channel Director, Loyiso Bala, was in Israel in December to film Israel Unveiled. The 6-part docu-series covers historical biblical sites such as the Sea of Galilee, the Garden tomb, Via Dolorosa, Magdala, The City of David, among others.

It is an exploration of modern Israel and the connection that the contested land has to the biblical history. Israel Unveiled is a journey of discovery through the Holy Land as Loyiso Bala seeks to unveil the biblical truth found in Israel’s archaeology, science, technology and the culture of the Israeli people. It is a collaborative programme between the South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) and TBN Africa following an interview that Loyiso had with SAFI on his talk show TBN Meets.

About his trip to the Holy Land, Loyiso relates: “This was my fourth time coming to Israel. When you come on a tour you have everything set. You are going to get the same tour that a tourist has had in the past 20 years. This time was different because I was not only learning about the historical part or the history of Israel or rather the history of Christianity which comes from there but I was meeting modern-day people.”

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When he shared these experiences with his mother she could not believe that Galilee really exists. He says that his mother has always viewed biblical towns as a myth. “We sing of Jerusalem. Jerusalem being a home. We read in the scriptures to pray for Jerusalem. We read that Christ has made us one with the Jewish people but a lot of South Africans and people throughout Africa do not know that Israel is a real place and as much as they see it in the news, up until they see someone who they know, who is actually in Israel and they are showing them these things suddenly the whole thing just comes to life.”

The purpose of his visit was to “tell the story of Israel” and “to bring to life all that we’ve read in the Bible”, he said.“We are storytellers, and being in Israel brings our faith to life. To walk in the very same footsteps, breathe the same air, and feel the spiritual energy of the place is so important in telling the story, he said. Bala first visited Israel as a guest for TBN US several years ago. “I visited again with the SABC (the South African Broadcasting Corporation) to produce another show. These visits whet my appetite, and I was left yearning to go back,” he said.

Asked how they selected which aspects of Israel to feature Loyiso says, “Many of our TBN viewers have watched a programme on Israel. This time we wanted to not only focus on the historical aspect of Israel but to also focus on the innovation, technology and culture that has shaped Israel to be what it is today.

“Further, we wanted to explore the fulfilment of Scripture concerning Israel. These aspects are what makes the content in this docuseries unique compared to other similar programmes. It’s a place where the history, archaeology, and artefacts go back thousands of years. It’s fascinating that places that existed during Bible times still exist today, and the consistency of a people who pray to the same G-d still speak the same language is so interesting.”

He says every time he visits Israel it feels like the first time because of the depth that is found in its stories. “This time around I had the opportunity of getting answers to my questions, not just from tour guides but from the people on the ground. Also, it was my first time visiting some of the sites where world-class innovation is taking place.”

ed every Wednesday at 19:30 and Saturdays at 17:30 on @tbnafr 343

Bala is an award-winning musician with five South African Music Awards (SAMAs), three Metro FM awards, and a South African Film and TV Award (SAFTA) for best musical score. While in Israel he had music sessions with local musicians.

“I had the privilege of singing some praise and worship songs in Hebrew with Brigitta Veksler and Joshua Aaron, who both are very well-known local singers. Even more exciting was when I did a hip-hop-inspired song with Israeli superstar Subliminal who has millions of views on his YouTube channel. With all the singing guests, I got a glimpse of the culture in Israel.

Bala is aware of the political climate surrounding Israel, how it is viewed as an “apartheid state” ” Firstly, I think one would be naïve to say that there are no clear tensions between Israel and certain countries, including South Africa. However, having clear memories of the apartheid era in South Africa and what that looks like in reality, after my visit I am not yet convinced that the tensions in Israel constitute the word “apartheid”.

However, the Bible does ask us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. This Scripture for me tells us that we need to keep our eyes open to the pain that the people of Israel are experiencing. What you see on TV is not what is taking place throughout Israel, in the same way that when I have had friends of mine visit South Africa for the first time, they were always surprised at how media had falsely portrayed South Africa as a country either on the brink of war or an unsafe country to visit.

Yes, there are problems of course, however, I’ve never felt safer in a country than I did in Israel. What someone can never take away from me is that Israel is my home. My flesh and my blood belongs to Africa but where my spirit came to life was 2 000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross and that happened in Jerusalem.

If Jerusalem was in Saudi Arabia and South Africa did not have good relations with them I would still go there because I regard it as home. I think it is a little bit one-sided what we hearing about Israel, about the Holy Land as we like to know it. It is important that we get together voices that are going to join the debate so we can all find a solution to what’s happening.

One of the other aspects of Israel that they wanted to explore in the series is the area of innovation. Loyiso met world-renowned experts, doctors, and professors in the fields of medicine, science, technology, archaeology, and agriculture.

“I walked in with an open mind, but who can deny Israel’s innovation – it’s one of the most innovative places in the world in all fields,” he said. He visited children at Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) at the Edith Wolfson Medical Centre near Tel Aviv. SACH had treated more than 5 000 children from more than 60 developing nations.

Visiting the Holy Land remains a bucket list item for many Christians across the world. As believers we want to witness the miracle of the Bible come to life. Israel Unveiled shows Loyiso filming in some of these biblical sites. He filmed at the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water and at the river Jordan where John the Baptist baptised Jesus.

He filmed an encouraging word as they were sailing on the Sea of Galilee. That word is a rhema word for the times we live in: “As I am sitting over here right in the middle of the Sea of Galilee I feel that I am surrounded by miracles. It was on these hills where many miracles occurred, 4 000 people got fed, at another stage 5 000 people got fed from just five loaves and two fish. The disciples get on the boat, Jesus tells them to go ahead. He stays behind on the shore. He begins to look and sees the disciples are in the middle of the storm. He walks on the water but when they see Him they become afraid. They think it’s a ghost. Jesus says something so profound He says to them:’Do not be afraid.’ Peter says: ‘Lord if it’s you then tell me to come.[ Jesus says:’ Come’ and Peter begins to walk on water up until one moment and that is when he looks away because he looks at the circumstances, he looks at the troubles, he looks at the storms and he begins to sink. When Peter walked he was not afraid that he was on water because he was looking at Jesus’ face. When we look at Jesus when we look at who He is, the King of Kings the Lord of Lords we will not be afraid because everything just begins to fade away.”

Following the finale of Israel Unveiled there will be a special one-hour programme called Israel Unveiled: Back Home, where Loyiso will be unpacking the trip together with other South African guests who have also been impacted by their trip to Israel.

This is more than a television series, it is a spiritual journey through the Bible.
Watch Israel Unveil

ed every Wednesday at 19:30 and Saturdays at 17:30 on @tbnafr 343

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