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"Great Trek" documentary to make TV debut in south central Kansas market

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A documentary on a 19th-century Mennonite migration from western Europe into central Asia will make its broadcast television debut in the south central Kansas market.

Through the Desert Goes Our Journey, which outlines the history of the 1880-81 “Great Trek” of Mennonites, mostly from Russia, and tells the story of 21st-century Mennonites seeking to retrace their ancestors’ journey, made its world premiere at Bethel College’s Fall Festival last October.

The broadcast premiere of Through the Desert Goes Our Journey will be on KPTS-TV, the PBS station in Wichita, Thursday, April 2, at 9 p.m.

The film’s co-producers are Jesse Zerger Nathan, a Bethel College graduate, Moundridge native and freelance journalist and publisher now living in California, and Walter Ratliff, who works for Associated Press television in Herndon, Va.

Another public screening of Through the Desert Goes Our Journey is slated for Herndon May 16, “to give those from the Northern Virginia area who contributed to the film, including most of the voice actors, a chance to see the film on the big screen with their families,” Ratliff reported.

He noted that “there has been a great deal of interest from those in Canada who would like to purchase the DVD” of Through the Desert Goes Our Journey. As a result, he said, TourMagination, a Mennonite-owned Christian tour company, has agreed to handle Canadian DVD orders. To order a copy in Canada, e-mail office@tourmagination.com or phone 1-800-565-0451.

In the United States, Through the Desert Goes Our Journey is for sale on Amazon.com or at www.ThroughTheDesert.com.

Ratliff also reported that TourMagination is organizing the 2009 tour retracing the Great Trek, the high point of which is expected to be the grand opening of an exhibit at the Ichan Kala Museum in Khiva, Uzbekistan, on the Mennonite settlement of Ak Metchet, built by Great Trek Mennonites near Khiva. The exhibit represents a collaboration between Bethel College’s Kauffman Museum and the Ichan Kala Museum. More information on the TourMagination Great Trek tour (May 24-June 4) is at www.tourmagination.com.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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