Our Keynote Responders

Just what is a Keynote Responder?

 

This year we have invited three gifted biblical tellers to open each of Dr. Randy Richards' keynote sessions with a telling. At the close of each 40 minute keynote, they will share their own reflections on his ideas, based on their personal experiences, their place within their own culture, and their practice as a biblical teller. They'll have the opportunity to interact with Dr. Randy about his talk for the last 15 minutes of each theme hour.

Bev Brazier  (YUKON, CANADA)

I sent Bev Brazier, one of last year’s Keynote Speakers, a few questions about herself, her greatest joy and sorrow - and why she loves biblical telling. This year she will be one of the Keynote Responders.
 

Bev: I live in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, in Canada. One of Canada’s three northern territories. I’ve lived here since 2009 and have chosen to make this my permanent home. I’m an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, and I have a Doctor of Ministry degree. My dissertation was on the topic of grief in the pastoral settings. I’d say, though, that I am a life-long learner, and that pastoral ministry has taught me so much about the Spirit’s work among us. I love my job!

 
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I’m relatively new to biblical telling but becoming more passionate about it all the time! I’ve loved the Scriptures since I became a follower of Jesus, and part of the church at age 14. The way the stories speak and speak again is a source of wonder to me. Learning them by heart, I have found, brings out more of their depth and nuance. Telling is by definition a communal act, and always, when two or three are gathered… there is Jesus!

 

My greatest sorrow comes from humans’ apparent inability to live together in respect for one another and for creation. What we continue to do to one another and the planet. My deepest joy comes from pockets of delight and resistance and determined, patient-but-not-too-patient people who just keep working for life and trusting that God is in all of this.

 

I hope that people will come to this Festival and be refreshed, renewed, and revitalized in their relationship with the Scriptures. I truly believe that story and song will take us into the future, whatever it holds. Those things need to be embodied. A song must be sung, and a story must be told. So, I hope that we all go away from this Festival with the Word more deeply alive in us.

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Jeff Lawrence (AUSTRALIA)

I live in Redcliffe (near Brisbane) in the sub-tropical region of Southeast Queensland, Australia. It is ‘Gubbi Gubbi’ country: those who are the aboriginal traditional custodians. It is near the ocean, with wonderful forests in the nearby mountains (well, some of you folk in the Rockies would call them hills). I have a Master of Ministry degree, postgraduate studies in spiritual direction, numerous courses in pastoral care, spirituality and prayer, meditation, ministry, etc.

However, one of the biggest learning resources I have enjoyed would be my many mentors and guides over the years - people who have helped me learn wisdom in ink, and in the blood, sweat, tears, losses, smiles, triumphs, grace, beauty, love and delights of life.  

What makes me passionate about biblical telling is best explained with a story:

I told Luke 1 & 2 one year. A strong, pious and good man of God I had known as Christian for over 30 years was listening. I could see tears rolling down his face as he heard the story - one he had heard read and preached on so many times - now told. On another occasion, a pastor of over 30 years had a similar powerful response.

 

What makes me passionate is how the Holy Spirit - the true Sacred Storyteller - anoints and empowers the teller and the telling, so that people can be blessed by these experiences of the Word alive and active, becoming flesh in them, truly healing, revelatory, liberating and enlivening. Oh - and yes - I am humbled by the work the Holy Spirit does on me as I take the story into my heart and soul. Just learning the story is a great blessing - a purifying, enlivening, honouring and humbling, sacred process. 

That is why I am delighted to be one of God’s apprenticed storyteller.

 

What are my sorrows?

Sorrow, when the scriptures are read (all too often) perfunctorily - usually to back up someone’s teaching and theology.

Sorrow, when people are kept down and imprisoned by the stories (names and definitions and places) others - including the church - have imposed on them.

Sorrow, when people are used, misused and abused, usually as a commodity for the pleasure, power, pride and prestige of others.

Sorrow when I see our natural and beautiful world wantonly destroyed to satisfy hedonism, greed and power.

 

Family is my deep delight. The delight of a grandchild holding my hand.

Slowing down into God’s beautiful, ‘good’ creation, walking contemplatively, especially in forests, is a holy thing and wholly joy.

Yes, you guessed it, biblical storytelling is my joy. But in other ministry, well, there is nothing more precious than when you companion someone, and they acknowledge that they feel ‘held and safe’ with you and they trust you with the truth of their life, and putting their heart and soul in your hands - their wounds, fears, hurts, failures, hope, successes and joys - because they sense you are good. It does not get any better than this and I pray I never lose this delight and reverence.

 

Joy, that with all the gifts of grace and nature I have been given, I manage to be a bit more of the good and holy person than I was yesterday. Blessed be the faithful, loving kindness, generosity and patience of our Lord! 

 

I hope those who come to the festival will experience the wonderful fellowship and encouragement, empowerment and gifting that happens comes when people come together and delight in telling God’s story. When people so freely and joyfully share the art and craft of Biblical Storytelling with each other - especially with those new to this ministry - it can be an amazing experience.

 

What I love is to share and give to others what the Lord has given to me as a sacred storyteller, and to receive from others what they have learnt and been given. And yes, the ‘Epic Telling’ – love it – it is a highlight! In short, I want to be a better sacred storyteller and the festival will help this come to pass.

 

Oh - and did I say - just hearing others tell God’s delightful story!

Sandhya Ruban Hobday (INDIA)

I live in a bustling city on the southeast coast of India, along the Bay of Bengal, called Chennai (erstwhile Madras).  I have a professional degree in dentistry.  I also have Master's certification from the Academy for Biblical Storytelling under Dean Tracy Radosevic. Now that I have completed three levels of biblical Hebrew, I am pursuing my D.Min. in finding feminine narratives in the Bible.

 

 
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After my oldest daughter Samara was born, I decided that a full-time professional career as a dentist, handling a church, and a child, were just not meant to be, so I closed an active 14-year-old practice. I was convinced that I had to have an alternative career, and teaching and training were the next best options, as I had a gift for it. I started telling stories, received formal training as a storyteller and went on to perform both nationally and internationally.

 

It was then I started searching for biblical storytelling as I felt there was such great need in my country to hear the stories of the God of Mercy. Proselytizing was becoming a challenge. Literacy levels, especially among women in rural villages were really low, and for them to relate to a printed book was almost impossible. We have 28 languages in our country, and I realized we had the challenges of translation, and of learning stories in regional and national languages. My vision is for India to know what biblical telling is about. 

 

I started learning to tell in five languages and I see a spark in the congregation's eyes when I am telling a story. They begin relating with the characters in the Bible and in an instant so much happens. I am a firm believer in the verse that says, "Every word that goes out of his mouth, will not return void, but bear fruit, 30, 60 and a 100-fold" and this is why my passions run high with biblical storytelling.

 

Injustice to the marginalized and inequality in the social fabric of my country deeply saddens me. I know we serve a righteous God, and one day, He is sure to equalize and restore tilted scales.

 

My greatest joy is when I am teaching a group of ‘newbies’ the steps of learning a biblical story and, once done, one of them retells the story with the finesse of a professional. My heart just swells with pride. 

 

This festival will help people to never read the Bible with a pre-formed lens again. Their perception will be altered as they understand what it is from various angles. We always leave the NBSC festival satiated with stories, tellings, workshops and worship that is par excellence. This year will probably even be better.