Peace in Israel

This artwork (and many other works like it in a variety of media) was created through a joint effort of Arab and Jewish students on the shore of The Sea of Galilee.

He is coming back... one day

This morning the pastor of the church where we'll perform Paradise Lost this afternoon wisely addressed the foolishness of predicting when Christ will return.

After the sermon I told the church how we drove into Israel on May 21, and we thought we might pass over the Jordan River, into the Promised Land and right into the New Jerusalem. But seriously, we did see this billboard in Nazareth. I was surprised to see "Emergency Exit" over the date. I realized that was on the window of our bus! I said it would be great to know a date when we'll have an emergency exit, but no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36). Until the Lord returns we live in a world of tragedies. I then went on to explain how Horatio Spafford was inspired to write "It Is Well With My Soul" through a series of devastating losses while Dr. Terry and Laurel Ewell and Doris DeLoach played the hymn on bassoon, flute and oboe.

We had a great recording session!

Our recording of Paradise Lost ( went very well, I think. Watch for it towards the end of summer:

Peter Restored

Peter restored on the shore of
The Sea of Galilee
I performed Peter's breakfast with Jesus on the shore of The Sea of Galilee, quite near where it is believed that Jesus restored Peter to ministry. Henrietta, one of the members of our CITA to the Nations team read from John 21, and when she read that Peter jumped into the water I jumped from behind the reeds you see in the right of the photo and swam to shore.

Recording Paradise Lost today

We're recording Paradise Lost ( today at Towson University: Watch for it later this summer:

Performing this Sunday

We'll be performing the world premiere of Paradise Lost ( this Sunday near Baltimore:

Caesaria Philippi

This Druse temple overlooks Caesaria Philippi, where there are shines to Pan (the cave, known as the "gates of hell") and numerous other gods. Here I performed an except from my play, The Acts (you can watch below), in which Peter tells how Jesus brought the disciples there, in the presence of so much spiritual confusion, and asked, "Who do you say that I am?" As Peter I bellowed, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!" It echoed off of the cliff.

The presence of the Druze indicates that this place is still a magnet for spiritual confusion. Druse believe the Messiah will be born to a dude, so men with the secret knowledge wear baggy pants in case he suddenly drops out of one of them.

Peter at Caesaria Philippi from Rich Swingle on Vimeo.

Mt. Tabor

In the distance is Mt. Tabor, one of two places it is believed Jesus was transfigured with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-13). We're driving into Nazareth, over the mountain from which people tried to throw Jesus after he implied that He was fulfilling a Messianic prophesy from Isaiah (Luke 4:16,24).

Peter Walks on the Sea of Galilee

I had this idea in 2005, but when we arrived there were three boats and none of them looked like they would work for this sketch. But then our guide told us we were on the third boat, which turned out to be the very boat that inspired the idea six years ago.

Scripture by Jenny.

Crossing the Jordan

This is one of the last photos I took in Jordan. 

A personal relationship

Jennifer G. reads Scripture as Tom M.
plays Moses in Rich's Bibliodrama.
We were doing a bibliodrama atop Mt. Nebo. Our friend Tom was playing Moses, who was looking down Mt. Nebo to the rock that he struck, the act which was keeping him out of the Promised Land, which he could also see from atop Mt. Nebo. I directed him to have a conversation with the Lord about his sin and a final word with his people before they left him there to enter the Promised Land without him.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw an Arab family and particularly the father watching us. I was afraid he was angry because we were performing on the path. I thought they wanted to get past us. After we were done the man, who was Muslim, asked about Tom. He said, "He spoke like a man of God. How can he know God like that?" He allowed us to pray with him, and I prayed that God would show him how to have a closer relationship to God through the study of the life of Isa, the Arabic name for Jesus, who is considered by Muslims to be a prophet. The man was beaming with joy after our prayer.

A double door in ancient Nazareth

The larger door stays closed to keep out horse-riding invaders. It's opened for parties.

Jesus was baptized here

Archeologists believe this is where Jesus was baptized, based on a first century Byzantine church that was discovered in 1998. We performed the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, not far from here. I played John the Baptist and then stayed in the river to help Kim, our other tour leader, and my bride, Rev. Joyce, baptize some who wanted to rededicate their lives to the Lord. Two women who were watching, a Belarusian and an Arab, joined our group.

Elijah's Cave

It's near the scaffolding, and we're 25m from the Baptismal site of Jesus.

Our last night in Jordan

We had an amazing final meal in Amman, but we're already talking about a return.

Fortress Antonia

These are the very stones of Pilate's fortress, where he offered Jesus to the people, and they chose to execute Him.

I (very quietly) performed that section from my play Journey to the Garden ( Instead of chanting, our group whispered, "Crucify him!" It was a haunting experience, and many of us left weeping.

One of our students brought us a cake!

We were astonished and delighted by how our group bonded with our students in Amman, Jordan. This cake was a physical symbol of what we were sensing: that we were making an impact on their hearts as well as their minds.

The only school music complex in the kingdom.

We're standing in the only school music complex in the Kingdom of Jordan.
Our host just had a teaching moment with a disrespectful student. This is apparently quite rare, but our host said that youth exposure to media and internet has been eroding their respect.

Coaching the students

We've had an AMAZING time working with students here in Amman, Jordan. Today is our last day with them (sniffles). We're going to coach them on some scenes. Then we're off to do a bibliodrama of Moses entering the Promised Land atop Mt. Nebo (pray the air has totally cleared from the dust storm), and a sketch of Jesus' baptism at the site where, according to the remains of a Byzantine church built about 100 years afterward, it took place.

Jordan Is One

Jordan has remained quite peaceful in the face of their neighbors' squabbles, and this campaign, which indicates that Jordanians, Palestinians and Iraqis are all one here, has been a part of keeping the peace.

Pastor Joyce introduced to our District Assembly

I was sad to miss Joyce's introduction as our church's lead pastor at our District Assembly, so I was thrilled that Pastor Larry Mancini shared this photo!

Picking up the rest of the team

The remaining members of our team are working their way through customs. Our classes and performances start tomorrow.

On the way to the airport I was going over how much I can share about Jesus with the Muslim students. Our host said, "More than you can in a public school in America."

I told her about my driver who spoke positively of the assassination of Osama bin Lauden. She said most here are hopeful that it will bring peace, and those that are not keep quiet. One Jordanian said to her that she must be happy now that bin Lauden is dead. He was shocked when she said no. She explained that she's never happy when someone dies without knowing Jesus.

Petra by day

I'd never been interested in Petra because it's not a biblical site, but when this trip came up it seemed to make sense to add it to our itinerary. I'm so glad we did! The work of man here, while impressive, pales in comparison to the Lord's handiwork.

Petra by night

We hiked by moon and candle light through Petra. I'll be posting more of both soon.

Drive to the Dead Sea

While floating on the Dead Sea we chatted with some Germans who had driven all the way here! It was a rally to raise money for a charity here. They bought old cars, drove them almost 3,000 miles, not counting ferries they had to take because Syria and Egypt wouldn't let them cross.

Bellat Jamille

That means beautiful country, and I mean more than the landscape! Everyone we've met has been lovely! One of our first points of contact was named Isa (Arabic for Jesus), and he was wearing a crucifix on his necklace.

One of our drivers told us how glad he was that Americans assassinated Osama bin Lauden. He said now maybe there is more chance for peace. I over paid him, and he immediately pointed out my error.

One old cup

I had dinner with some dear friends the other night. They have a collection of artifacts, including this cup, which was worn on the belt of a Roman centurion 2,000 years ago. Our pastors have a replica of a suit of Roman armor. Next time we use it we'll know of a little detail we can add...a replica, of course!

Now in Atlanta

I'm a Freedom Finder for Graceworks. We do public presentation, communication, and leadership training. We're expanding! We just opened an office in Atlanta: Big Bold News.

Pawn's Move Won...Twice!

The film is done and just won Best Family Film, and Feature Film Audience Choice at the Bare Bones International Film Festival! The director, Caleb Vetter, said, "The screening went very well and I got great positive feedback from several people after the film!"

Farewell Orlando

A girl at the pool last night was missing a good portion of her arm. I asked the group if any of them had seen Soul Surfer ( It's the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a competitive surfer, who lost most of her arm in a shark attack. The girl said, "Yes, sir." I told her I thought it was quite inspiring. "Me, too!" She beamed. "My Dad is friends with Bethany Hamilton on Facebook."

Flying to Orlando

I'm flying down to Orlando to coach construction managers on their interpersonal relationship skills:

When we were on the runway this sunset silhouetted the Manhattan skyline. Sorry you'll have to imagine it, but it was SPECTACULAR!