At the age of twelve, Stuart Pierce prayed to God that his parents wouldn’t divorce during a trial separation. God seemed to comply; his parents reconciled. The incident clashed with his atheistic upbringing, leaving Stuart with many questions. Now, as a twenty-year-old college student, he seeks answers. Best friend Roger Warren travels with him on a spiritual quest to Turkey where they discover a crater in which descendants of the original Apostles have guarded the true cross of the crucifixion for 2,000 years.
Exhausted from their climb to the crater rim, the young men see the village long-concealed within. As Roger snaps one photo, an earthquake throws him back down the rock face they had just scaled. The trembler hurls Stuart into the interior of the crater; he barely survives. His presence poses a dilemma for the ancient community; their sole contact with the outside world has been through the descendants of Simon of Cyrene.
Roger and Stuart are missing; the only clue to their whereabouts is the photograph inside Roger’s shattered camera that finds its way back to Los Angeles. Bryce Brinkman and her scheming assistant Earl Cole, both satellite-imaging researchers, recover the digital photograph. Father Rafael Romero, renowned authority on Byzantine churches, studies the picture of the crater, and finds his diminishing faith challenged by the golden church at its center. Stuart’s Jewish girlfriend, Meredith Montgomery, conflicted by her attraction to Messianic Judaism, joins Stuart’s parents to form a third search party.
Unbeknownst to one another, the three search parties race across Turkey. While seismologists in Antarctica wrestle with whether to disclose foreknowledge of an impending earthquake, the monks guarding the cross see portents of an imminent, earth-shattering spiritual event. The trees surrounding the cross are bearing fruit for the first time in history, but is it the fruit of life or death?