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‘Fuel’ youth Bible study is ‘monster’ production

MURFREESBORO, Tenn., (BP)–The streets of downtown Murfreesboro, Tenn., are generally quiet on Sunday afternoons, with most of the shops closed, but a fictitious dinosaur caused a bit of a ruckus there recently.

On Aug. 21, filmmakers blocked off a section of Murfreesboro’s streets to film a scene from the latest installment of a digital youth Bible study, “Fuel: Igniting a New Life with God’s Story” produced by LifeWay Christian Resources.

“Run fast,” production coordinator Danny Ayala told a crowd of about 60 extras through his bullhorn. “You’re running from a dinosaur.”

The cooperative extras, amid sweltering heat, obeyed by letting their imaginations run wild as they disrupted the quiet afternoon with realistic screams of terror, flailing arms and even some feet that literally ran right out of their flip-flops.

The scene is part of a Fuel episode that follows an oblivious teenager through his day as he leaves home, goes to work and walks through a crowd of fleeing people without ever noticing the giant creature destroying his town.

Most people probably wouldn’t expect a reptilian monster to make an appearance in a Bible study video, but Fuel is all about reaching youth in unexpected ways.

David Buckley, youth director at Stonebrook Church in Smyrna, Tenn., began leading his group of about 15-20 students through Fuel when the study premiered last summer. Since then, regular attendance has grown to 25-30 students.

“I really like the study,” said Buckley, who served as extra in the filming — along with several of his students and all eight of his sons. “It’s in settings that kids can see, so it has more of an appeal and impact.”

Another extra, 17-year-old Mellie Riddle, said she came to the filming just to see what a professional video production looked like but then became impressed with the idea of a Bible study like Fuel.

“I think it’s [the dinosaur scene] hilarious,” Riddle said. “I think [students] my age and a little bit younger would appreciate that there’s a video and stuff. They can really learn something from it.”

Glenda Arbuckle’s son, Ryan, who also served as an extra, has been among the youth studying Fuel at Stonebrook. She said she’s glad to see him so interested in a Bible study.

“I think it appeals to the youth and all their technology,” Arbuckle said. “You’ve got to meet them on their level.”

The Fuel curriculum is designed to teach 96 Bible stories through eight volumes and two years of study. Volume 2.2, scheduled for a November 2005 release, will include the dinosaur scene.

While the premise of the scene may seem bizarre, the location is one of the least exotic that Fuel staff have visited to produce the Bible study. So far, they have filmed in places such as Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, D.C., and even Egypt.

“I absolutely believe in the study,” Ayala said. “The state of the youth culture in today’s society has just taken a nosedive, so anything we can do is worth it.”
For more information and previews of Fuel curriculum, visit LifeWay.com/Fuel.

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  • Brooklyn Noel