In 2012, we made our way back to Israel for the world premiere, as a way to honor them. Our very first screening was in Ashdod, Israel at the local Globo Max movie theatre to a sold out crowd. The mayor of Ashdod was there to give an opening word. We were on pins and needles throughout the film because we did not know how Israelis would respond to the film. As soon as the credits began to roll the entire theatre erupted with applause! As the people began to file out the door they had to go past me towards the exit and I received a lot of bear hugs that night from very grateful Israelis expressing what a blessing the movie was.
The next screening we did was at a synagogue in the north of Israel. We thought very few would show up for the film as it was a rainy night and Google maps did not have proper directions to the synagogue. Low and behold, about eighty Israelis showed up, and about half of them were bussed in from a rival surf town. The response at this premiere was the same as the one in Ashdod. One of the ladies from the synagogue was there and she told me that she and her husband had been around a long time, and they had never witnessed such an effective tool in sharing love with the Jewish people as they did with Promised Land that night. It was at this point I knew we had a good film on our hands and that God was going to use it to his glory.
One of my favorite premieres was at the North Shore Center for Performing Arts in Skokie, Illinois, to 500 people. It was about a 50/50 split Jewish-Gentile audience, average age—45. Surfers? Just one.
The event was hosted by Justin Kron. The audience really enjoyed the film, laughing at all the funny parts and interacting well with each scene. After the film, Justin and I went for a bite to eat and during the course of our dinner he received a number of text messages full of great news to our itching ears. Many of the comments he received were summed up in one very special text which is forever seared in my mind. It was from a friend of Justin’s. This man told Justin, “You would not believe the conversations we had over dinner as a result of watching the film. This is nothing short of a miracle!”
As a result of the screening Justin and I became good friends and we went on to create Hope in the Holy Land together.