This month, we are sharing examples of how you, the Pro/Pro/Pro network, are writing a New Story for a New Day. A new day in which we stand together for justice, freedom and dignity for all, at home and around the world, including for all Palestinians and Israelis.
This week, we are sharing the stories of visual and musical artists Kellie Haddock, Michael Rowley, and Stu G.
We need your help to build this New Story: to grow the Pro/Pro/Pro movement and to amplify the stories already being told. Will you pitch in $100, $1000, or $2500 today? Or commit to $10, $50, or $250 a month? Donate today.
For more on what your donation will support at Telos over the next six months, click here.
Kellie is a singer, songwriter, wife and mom. As a former widow, she’s lived through tragedy and found new hope and joy on the other side. Her music draws from real-life stories of beauty, heartache, hope and the celebration of life.
“Weary world, rejoice tonight. Love has come, spread its light.”
As a songwriter and peacemaker I’m on mission to bring hope wherever I go, whether in conflict zones or sharing songs in someone’s living room. As a former widow I’ve found myself on an unexpected journey of going into unexpected places where there is suffering. When we show up as image bearers of Love Incarnate Christ, hope cannot be held at bay. Like a tsunami, hope floods in.
There is power in showing up. Relationship in proximity breaks down walls.
I’ve spent time in the war-torn Holy Land with Telos pursuing peace through listening: sharing meals with Palestinian Muslim families, walking on farms with Israelis, grieving with parents who’ve lost children in the conflict and sharing Shabbat dinner with a Holocaust survivor. Though each story was unique there was a common thread of hope and fear. There was no us and them, only us.
“Through thy dark streets shineth an everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”
I wrote Bethlehem from my time there with Telos. This is the heart song I’ve waited my whole life to write. I can’t sing these words without seeing my life encompassed: ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.’ These lyrics carry the weight of it all: widowhood, my son’s injuries/special needs, marrying again, the joys, the disappointments, the successes, the failures, the significant, the simple…all of it…is met in Christ. This is why the celebration of Christmas is such good news!
My time in the Holy Land with Telos inspired me to create Peace On Earth, a set of socially conscious Christmas songs speaking straight to the heart of today’s struggles. This music is infused with hope and longing for healing in the broken places and in every heart that hears it. Featuring John Arndt of The Brilliance, Peace On Earth combines nine traditional carols and three original Christmas songs waiting for you to sing along!
As my pilgrimage with Telos stretched my heart, I hope this music encourages you in your work this holiday season.
Michael is a filmmaker who aims to document underrepresented stories in an effort to bring awareness, equity and justice to an interconnected and global society.
“My first step into Israel / Palestine was on a Telos trip and it was a life-changing experience. Being expertly ushered through the human stories of this region, stories of loss, difficulty and hope, ultimately inspired me to use my skills as a filmmaker to continue sharing stories from this region. It was through my connections with Telos and a Telos alumni sharing a youtube video with me that I first met a few young Palestinian men who were leading the next generation of youth to find freedom and self-determination through the creative practices of parkour and photography. Taking back their freedom of movement and using cameras to tell their stories despite the towering walls that keep them static, I knew this was something that could be a powerful story to help people outside of the region better understand the challenges faced by Palestinians and to build empathy towards positive change. Three years later and my documentary feature film HURDLE was born.
“HURDLE, my documentary about these young men, has gone on to play over fifteen festivals around the world (and growing), has been featured in The New York Times and has won three Best Documentary Feature Film Jury Awards. All of this has been so exciting after years of hard work, but the most important and gratifying part of making this film has been engaging with audiences after they watch the film. We’ve had Palestinians tell us they’ve never felt so accurately represented and others communicating that they had never seen this side of the story or experience before. Much like Telos did for me, I hope that the exposure to these human stories leads people to use their own skills and agency to make a conscious effort towards security dignity and freedom for all people in Israel / Palestine. You can follow along with Hurdle at www.hurdlefilm.com or even host your own screening by visiting www.newday.com/film/hurdle (our educational distributor). But most importantly, please consider supporting Telos as they continue to have a positive ripple effect in a time when common understanding and advocating for one another is so desperately needed.”
Stu is a guitarist, songwriter, author, and speaker. He is a founding member of the UK band Delirious?
We interviewed Stu earlier this year about The Beatitudes Project: a film, book, album, and upcoming podcast that explores the announcements and invitations that Jesus makes during the Sermon on the Mount through the film along with an album, book, and upcoming podcast.
What was your inspiration for The Beatitudes Project?
The Beatitudes Project started life as an idea for a Delirious (that’s the band I was a part of) album of songs. We never got around to making it, and when the band finished, I spent time struggling with a strange mix of anti-climax and quite honestly, depression. I didn’t know how to be in that transitional upside-down space.
I read Eugene Peterson’s Message translation of the Beatitudes, and the first one says, “You’re blessed at the end of your rope.” I identified with the “end of rope-ness” but didn’t feel very blessed. I started to learn that the blessing in these announcements is divine presence. In other words, God is on your side when life doesn’t follow your instructions. I learned that The Beatitudes are not only pronouncements of presence but also invitations to live differently in the world. To BE present by showing mercy and becoming peacemakers etc.
In 2009 I sat around a fire pit with some musicians, visual artists, and a Jewish Rabbi and the concept grew from a collection of songs to something more expansive. The Beatitudes Project is a documentary film, a book, art, a soundtrack album, a community group study guide and a podcast (podcast coming late 2019).
The world is so divided and hurting right now. As a Brit, I think about Brexit and the chaos, division, and polarization it’s causing. Having moved to America and living here now, I’m aware of the many issues here too.
Through learning how to listen, to engage the conversations of difference, to want for our neighbor what we want for ourselves, The Beatitudes are Ancient Wisdom that offer us some medicine to heal our time, our communities and our nations.
How did your Telos trip inspire you to make The Beatitudes Project real?
Wow, so many things! Three things come to mind immediately:
Firstly, putting human faces on people within a conflict was an essential lesson for me. It’s easy to have opinions when you’re thousands of miles away and put it down to “them over there.” When you sit across a table from victims and peacemakers and not only listen to their story but know their name and see their faces, it changes everything. This experience influenced the whole project.
Secondly, sitting on the hill overlooking the Galilee where Jesus spoke the Sermon on the Mount brought the Beatitudes alive in a way that I couldn’t have imagined unless I’d been there.
Thirdly, I had a life-changing experience in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem that I wrote about in the book Words From The Hill. Having time to meditate and pray in the spot where tradition says Jesus was born left me with a sense of receiving an inner peace. Later Daoud Nassar from the Tent of Nations gave me some language for what I’d experienced when he said, “before we can offer peace as a solution to others, we have to receive peace as a gift on the inside…Inner Peace.”
What do you hope people do or how do you hope their worldview changes/deepens as a result of The Beatitudes Project?
The Beatitudes invite us to a world of presence, listening, engagement, creativity, empathy, mercy, peacemaking. These are all hard to find in our world right now. My hope and prayer are that as people watch, listen, read, and collaborate, they hear the invitation to live differently in the world and embody these words and not merely believe them.
These people have become heroes to me:
Todd Deatherage. A co-founder of Telos and Todd has led both trips on which I’ve been. He has such a gift in leading an incredible experience where I felt I fully partook in a Spiritual Pilgrimage and also learned so much about the complexity and history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As someone who worked in the State Department for many years, his knowledge and his words carry weight and legitimacy.
Sami Awad. Listening to Sami’s stories of how his Grandfather was shot and killed in 1948, and then his family becoming refugees have you pinned to your seat hanging on every word. His subsequent and current journey into peacemaking and non-violent activism is so compelling and inspiring. Plus he’s a GREAT hang.
Roni Keidar. Visiting Roni an Israeli, on her family’s farm on the Gaza border brings another aspect to the reality of the situation. Roni teaches how essential it is to put a human face on the suffering of those you see as “the other.”
Daoud Nassar. A Palestinian farmer from Tent of Nations who embodies peace like no one else I’ve met anywhere. In the face of tremendous hardship, he and his family continue to farm and refuse to hate, be a victim, or an enemy.
Robi Damelin. You never forget Robi after meeting her. From her incredibly hard story of losing her son to a Palestinian sniper, to her disdain for violence and revenge, her work with The Parents Circle Family Forum is extraordinary. She’s a firecracker of a woman holding pain, determination, and hope all in one explosive personality.
Rumor has it you’re planning to lead a Beatitudes Project Telos trip. How do I get on that?
It’s a dream of mine to organize a Beatitudes Project Telos Trip in 2020.
My vision for that would be for people to experience what I have experienced alongside one or two folks featured in the project. Perhaps with an artist or two from the project and some music along the way.
In keeping with the Telos ethos, it would be both a pilgrimage and learning experience.
I’d love to know if anyone would be interested in such a trip.
If so, they can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for my email list, or by contacting Telos directly.
Once we have an idea if we can pull this together, we’ll announce on social media and website, etc.
In the meantime to find out more about The Beatitudes Project and resources please visit thebeatitudesproject.com
I’m so grateful for everyone’s interest and support and really value my friendship and partnership with all at Telos.