isitors file into the dark interior of the semitruck, looking around pensively. The show is about to start, but they aren’t quite sure what to expect at the King Tut Roadshow. The space buzzes with excitement.
Suddenly, a video presentation flashes onto three large screens. Guests are surrounded by narration and pictures of ancient Egypt as glass panels open around them, revealing artifacts mentioned in the script. They see a life-sized replica of the Rosetta stone, the key to unlocking the ancient hieroglyphic code; King Tut (Tutankhamun) introduces them to his father, Akhenaten, and mother, Nefertiti. Before they move on to the second of three rooms, visitors see about 20 of the deities the ancient Egyptians worshiped.
The next room is a reproduction of King Tut’s tomb, discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, the world-famous English archaeologist and Egyptologist. Through advanced multimedia, guests feel like they’re walking down into the tomb, led by Carter himself. They hear conversations around them as the archaeological team uncovers relics buried with King Tut before learning about his mummified body and intricate death mask. As guests finish the second room, they are confronted with several questions: What about death and the afterlife? Were the Egyptians right? If there is such a thing as the afterlife, should we be preparing for it?
The last room features the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Visitors see replicas of the scrolls, including the full text of the book of Isaiah. The room is full of real artifacts, too, including two-thousand-year-old pieces of pottery collected by the King Tut Roadshow founder, Wayne French.
French says, “In the late 1970s I was given my first artifacts from the Middle East . . .These were three bricks dating back to 605bc from Babylon, Iraq, with King Nebuchadnezzar’s name stamped on them—they were genuine pieces, not mere copies. These three bricks are still in my collection, and you can see them in the ‘Scroll Room’ on The King Tut Roadshow. That began my lifelong journey of buying and collecting artifacts and pottery that gave evidence for stories from the ancient Hebrew Writings.”
When French, who holds a doctoral degree in youth ministry with a postgraduate certificate in archaeology, retired, he turned his lifelong love for teaching and archaeology into a ministry.
The King Tut Roadshow began in 2018 with French and a few volunteers. With funding through Global Mission grants from the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission, the South Pacific Division, and the Australian Union, they purchased and renovated a semitrailer and produced videos and other content to create a mobile museum.
The team would take French’s artifacts to communities throughout the east coast of Australia, especially to remote areas where schools don’t have access to larger museums, and provide interactive history lessons.
French and his crew arranged for the trailer to visit a few Adventist schools in the region to gauge the response. The project officially launched at the Mission to the Cities and Church Planting Conference at Avondale College in February 2019.
Throughout the 2019 school year, more than 28 schools, including many public schools in Melbourne, coordinated with French to have the mobile museum conduct a history unit for their students. In 2020, the number of participating schools grew to 60. Teachers and administrators at every school they visited were so impressed with the presentations that The King Tut Roadshow has a standing invitation to return every year.
French and his team have been busy creating new resources for teachers that fulfill requirements for the Australian school curriculum, including games and apps for tablets and mobile phones.
One weekend, The King Tut Roadshow visited the Auburn Adventist school and church in Sydney. They conducted a program for the school on Friday and French preached at the church on Sabbath. On Sunday, the church held a festival for the community, highlighting the trailer and history program.
The team was excited when several Egyptian Coptic Christians came through the exhibit. The visitors were skeptical before they went through the theatrettes but “came out glowing,” French remarked. This is a great example of how the program can be leveraged by a congregation to build connections in the community.
Recently, The King Tut Roadshow visited the Arab Republic of Egypt’s ambassador in Canberra. In a personal letter written to French, the ambassador remarked how delighted he was with the “world-class educational and audio-visual content” he experienced as he toured The King Tut Roadshow semitrailer.
He recommended “that any student or Egyptian history enthusiast see this amazing state-of-the-art display. Its educational value is undeniable, and indeed, will undoubtedly imbue any student with a deep curiosity and passion for learning about history and archaeology.”
Since then, the ambassador has called on The King Tut Roadshow twice to attend events he has hosted for special guests in Canberra. He plans for the traveling museum to be on hand for a festival organized by the embassy, perhaps later next year, depending on COVID-19 factors.
A Deeper Purpose
While it is entertaining and educational, there is a deeper purpose to the ministry. French and his team seek, in an unassuming way, to introduce students and the public to the validity of the scriptures, using historical and archaeological artifacts to spark interest and meaningful spiritual questions.
The King Tut Roadshow is especially sensitive to its audience, which ranges from secular people, with no biblical background, to deeply committed Christians.
Wayne Krause, director of Adventist Mission and the strategy leader for Mission to the Cities for the South Pacific region of the Adventist Church, is excited about this project. “This innovative outreach initiative reaches thousands of public school children and their families. Booked out nearly a year in advance, it’s being used to help plant churches and be part of evangelistic events in our major cities,” he says.
Today, in a world where chaos and uncertainty often rule, this unique, mobile urban center of influence is providing tangible proof that there is something more to cling to—something that can be trusted. We invite you to pray for this ministry as they plan for the future and plant more seeds for the harvest.
Urban Centers of Influence
Global Mission supports wholistic mission to the cities through the ministry of urban centers of influence. These centers follow Christ’s method of ministry to meet people’s needs and start new groups of believers. To learn more, visit MissionToTheCities.org.
Please support urban centers of influence (Fund # 9730) by scanning this QR code or visiting Global-Mission.org/giving.
Please remember us in your will and trusts. Visit Global-Mission.org/PlannedGiving or call 800.648.5824.