Tag Archives: Christian

Tete-a-tete: Newsboys reunion concert elicits a nostalgia suckerpunch, yet reminds that awesomeness does not change

The older you get, the more quickly time seems to pass. It doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s passing quickly in the moment, however. It’s more that every once in a while, something comes to your attention that makes you realize that decades have gone by in the blink of an eye – a nostalgia suckerpunch, if you will.

I was doubled over by a nostalgia suckerpunch just two weeks ago, when a friend and I went to see the Newsboys, one of our favorite bands from high school, in concert. She had seen them perform multiple times over the years, following the band through personnel changes and the evolution of their sound. I, on the other hand, had last seen the Newsboys in concert about 20 years ago, making the experience rather surreal.

The Newsboys are a Christian rock band that formed in the 1980s and saw some of their peak popularity in the mid to late ‘90s, which happily coincided with my high school youth group years. At that time, the band had just released its “Take Me to Your Leader” album and lead vocals and frontman responsibilities were being transferred from John James to Peter Furler.

Peter Furler, in my humble opinion, is Christian rock’s answer to The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan. Along with the shaved head, black eyeliner and charismatic stage presence, both share a commitment to creativity and a willingness to experiment musically. At the same time, Furler remains true to his faith, wrestling honestly with doubts and difficulties in his lyrics but always coming back to God’s love and faithfulness.

Furler left the Newsboys in 2009 to pursue a solo career, and Michael Tait (of Christian rap/rock trio DC Talk) became the group’s lead vocalist. Furler has continued to collaborate with the band, with this reunion tour being the most recent project. The reunion tour also features former bassist Phil Joel, which gave my friend and I the hitherto unimaginable opportunity to see the lineup from our high school days.

The first clue that a bit of time had passed since then was my response to my friend’s text message about tickets going on sale: “Does the venue have seats? I don’t think I can stand for that long anymore.”

When that same friend called me 20 years ago, overjoyed because she had managed to get us front-row tickets to the Newsboys’ “Step up to the Microphone” tour, sitting down was the last thing on my mind. We spent the entire concert pressed up against the stage, taking pictures with our disposable cameras, beyond excited to be so close to our favorite group.

My friend assured me that the venue had assigned seating and that, Newsboys reunion or not, she was not going to stand up for a three-hour concert either.

Since our parents weren’t footing the bill this time around, we opted for reasonably priced seats that were a bit further from the stage but still offered an excellent view. Online tickets sales and venue maps are a godsend. No more frantically dialing the box office the moment it opens and praying you don’t end up behind a pole.

I couldn’t help but notice, however, that the seats closest to the stage came with a VIP package that included a photo with the band, a question and answer session before the show and other perks. That was definitely not available 20 years ago – there’s no way we would’ve missed out on that.

On the evening of the concert, we met up after my friend finished work and she drove us to the venue. We both have licenses now, but we also know that time will never improve my sense of direction. I am simply one of nature’s passengers.

I suppose we could’ve looked up our former assistant youth group leader (who was also another friend’s older brother) and asked if he’d like to drive us again, but I think he may still be recovering from dealing with a minivan full of overexcited teenage girls. Sorry, Kevin. I’d like to think we helped prepare you for what lies ahead with your own daughters.

The reunion concert was wonderful but unexpectedly disorienting. It began with the Newsboys’ current lineup playing their more recent hits, none of which I was familiar with. Furler and Joel then joined them onstage for a song, after which Tait left and the lineup I knew in high school played their hits from that era.

My friend and I expended most of our saved-up concert energy during this part, dancing and singing along to the soundtrack of our teenage years. I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed this particular group of musicians and their musical output from this time period, and I found I appreciated it even more because of how much the Christian music industry has changed.

There’s a definite trend toward worship music these days, with groups like Hillsong United topping the charts. I have nothing against a well-written worship song, but it’s hard to imagine teenagers today feeling the same way about Hillsong United that I felt about the Newsboys. That was music I could play for my non-Christian friends, music I could blast in the car with the windows down, because it was good music that spoke to the times and to people’s life circumstances in addition to matters of faith.

And Furler was the kind of frontman I could relate to, especially as a new Christian with creative aspirations of my own. Someone a little quirky, someone who didn’t feel they had to fit into a particular mold just because they were a Christian but simply glorified God by being who God made them to be.

That part of the concert was over all too soon. Tait (who is awesome in his own right) returned to the stage, Furler and Joel left and the rest of the setlist focused on more recent songs that I wasn’t familiar with. Everyone came back for one last song together, and then it was over. I was left sitting in my seat with ringing ears, hands that were numb from applauding and no idea what year it was.

I remembered pretty quickly, because as my friend and I were taking a selfie in front of the stage, we found ourselves accidentally blocking the path of Phil Joel. It had to be 2018 and not 1998 because we actually managed to say coherent words to him. At my friend’s request, he posed for a picture with her before continuing on his way. I declined her offer to follow him and ask him to take a picture with me because I am an idiot who doesn’t like to bother people.

Evidence of the current year abounded as we stopped by the merchandise tables. My wallet contained only my own cash (no supplements from Mom and Dad), which was rather diminished from paying for my ticket and my share of gas and parking.

Twenty years ago, my friend and I would’ve stocked up on T-shirts, jewelry, stickers, photos of the band – anything we found aesthetically appealing. This time, she passed on the T-shirts even though she liked the designs because her office dress code is not quite as relaxed as her high school dress code. I likewise took practicality into consideration and opted for a CD and a pin.

It wasn’t a school night this time around, but it was a work night, so we headed out shortly after that.

Though it’s been a few weeks since the concert, I’m still recovering from the nostalgia suckerpunch it inflicted. It’s hard not to be shocked at how much time has passed and how many things have changed.

Thankfully, the most important things have remained the same. Jesus still loves me as much as He did 20 years ago. My sense of direction is still terrible, but it’s okay because other people are willing to handle the driving. And good music is forever, as are the lessons you learn from it.

– Teresa Santoski

Originally published May 3, 2018


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Looking for a way to include the Christmas story in your Christmas celebration? Try this creative craft idea

In the chaos of getting everyone ready for church, opening gifts, preparing meals, and cleaning up the aftermath, it can be challenging to find a moment on Christmas (apart from during the church service itself) to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Last year, I came up with a craft idea that incorporates the Christmas story into our family’s celebration beyond attending the church service. May I present to you, Christmas Star Boxes. Continue reading

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Fans, performers, and appropriate social media use: a response to the events surrounding BTS’s New York City concert

Some fans seem to think that their social media interactions with performers occur inside a vacuum and there are no real-life repercussions to what they post about a performer. As the events surrounding BTS’s recent concert in New York City have shown, the consequences can be extremely negative.

Twitter threats on Rap Monster’s life resulted in an early end to the concert, the cancellation of the fan engagement event, and the mobilization of the city police. Though the most serious threats came from an individual who was not a fan, some fans who disagreed with Rap Monster on certain topics expressed their displeasure in ways that may have contributed to the situation. Continue reading

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Six straightforward steps for surviving a K-pop performer’s mandatory military service

It’s something every fan of Korean pop music will have to deal with at least once in their life: the mandatory military service of a favorite performer. South Korea requires that all Korean-born men serve in the military full-time for a certain period of time. Men have from age 20 to age 30 to complete their service and the length of service depends on the branch of the military in which they serve. At this time, service requirements are 21 months for the Army and the Marines, 23 months for the Navy, and 24 months for the Air Force. For more information on South Korea’s mandatory military service, click here and here.

What’s a fan to do in circumstances like these? This is a long time to go without updates, events, or new projects from a favorite performer. The performer is also in a potentially dangerous environment, which can be worrying for a fan. How does a fan take care of himself or herself during this difficult time and also continue to support the absent performer? Continue reading

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Tete-a-tete: Grieving entertainment losses with a few simple steps

Thanks to the lightning-fast capabilities of social media, news travels quickly these days and becomes outdated even more quickly. Our minds and hearts, however, haven’t kept pace with the digital revolution. The human psyche is still pretty analog, and we need time to process and grieve distressing and confusing events.

I’m talking, of course, about Zayn’s departure from One Direction.

Unless you happen to be a teenage girl (or the parent of one), a boy band member’s decision to leave his globally-known group at the peak of its fame may not seem all that devastating – that is, until you put it in perspective. Many of us have found ourselves grieving in comparable situations.

For example, depending on your age and your entertainment preferences, how did you feel when the Beatles broke up? How about when Diane left the TV sitcom “Cheers” or when “M*A*S*H” or “Seinfeld” aired their final episodes? Did the deaths of individuals like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jerry Garcia or Whitney Houston shake up your world?

Entertainment has a significant impact on our lives, and it’s not hard to see why. The right song, the right movie or TV show can show us we’re not alone in our experiences and how we see the world. Likewise, entertainment can also serve as a form of escapism, a way to take a break from reality when life gets difficult. Who hasn’t blasted something like the Ramones’ “The Job That Ate My Brain” after a rough day at the office or sobbed their way through “Pretty in Pink” or “Sleepless in Seattle” after a romantic disappointment?

But what do you do when your escape succumbs to the inevitability of change due to performers or characters dying or otherwise departing? How do you not only cope, but heal and move on?

When I wrote “Prayers for Oppa,” my devotional prayer book for performers and their fans, I never imagined I’d become an expert on what I’ve since dubbed “fan crisis management.” But that’s pretty much what has happened.

My personal area of interest is East Asian entertainment, particularly Korean pop music, or K-pop. 2014 was a year of near-constant crisis for the K-pop industry, including a car crash that killed two members of the girl group Ladies’ Code and injured the other three, a number of performers suing their agencies for abuse and mistreatment, and numerous groups losing members or disbanding entirely. Factor in the Sewol Ferry tragedy – in which nearly 300 people drowned, including more than 200 students on a high school trip – and 2014 was an extremely difficult year for South Korea and those who appreciate the country’s pop culture.

As a result of having dealt with and guided others through so many entertainment-related tragedies in such a small span of time, I’ve come up with the following list of tried and true steps for fan recovery.

Recognize that you have a reason to feel upset.

It’s not “just a band” or “only a TV show.” These are more than performers or characters – they’re role models, friends, even family. They say what’s on your mind better than you ever could, or cheer you up when you’re feeling down. It’s a difficult loss, and it’s OK to acknowledge that.

Express your grief in healthy ways.

Talk to other fans or a trusted friend or relative about what you’re feeling. Listen to that band’s songs or re-watch that TV series and have a good cry. A glass of wine or an ice cream sundae can be a nice pick-me-up, but be careful not to self-medicate with food, alcohol or drugs. Give yourself some time to process and gain perspective before you post on social media.


Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” In my book (quite literally, as this is the foundational verse of “Prayers for Oppa”), that includes everything from boy band breakups to the end of “Friends.”

Talk to God about what you’re feeling. Express your anger, your disappointment, your sadness – He can handle it. Then, pray for the performers who are involved in the event that has upset you. If someone has left, pray for the person who has left and for those who remain, for their health and well being and for God to guide them as they move forward in their careers. If someone has died, pray for the people he or she has left behind, that God would comfort and heal them.

I really can’t overemphasize the importance of prayer in this process. It brings us comfort and a sense of security and control in the midst of uncertain circumstances, for it reminds us that God is ultimately in charge of the situation and that He will take care of us and the performers in accordance with His will and purposes.

Focus on the positive.

If it’s currently too painful, feel free to take a break from the TV series, music, etc. Otherwise, continue to enjoy it, as well as to treasure the memories you have because of it. Maybe you and your mother bonded over a shared love of “Cheers.” Perhaps one of the happiest outings you’ve had with your father was when he took you to a Nirvana concert. Though band lineups and TV series casts are subject to change, the memories we have as a result of them are lasting.

You can find more sound advice on performer-related topics, along with applicable prayers and Bible verses, in my “Prayers for Oppa” book. For more information, visit my website, www.teresasantoski.com.

I hope these steps will help you to grieve your entertainment-related tragedies in a healthy way, whether it’s a fresh wound like Zayn’s departure from One Direction or an older injury that still aches from time to time, like the Day the Music Died. Though entertainment news and our hearts break at about the same speed, our hearts require more time to heal and move on.

– Teresa Santoski

Originally published April 30, 2015



Here’s an ideal conversation between a distraught One Direction fan and a caring parent:

Fan: (sobbing) “Zayn left One Direction! The world is over!”

Parent: “I’m so sorry, honey. I remember how upset I was when Diane left ‘Cheers.’ Do you want to talk about it? We can go get some ice cream and reminisce about how much fun it was when we went to their concert together. And then we can say a little prayer for Zayn and the rest of the members. God will take good care of them.”

Fan: (sniffling) “OK. Can we listen to ‘Story of My Life’ in the car?”

Parent: “We’ll blast it.”

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How to cope with the departure of a group member

It’s an unfortunate reality of the music industry that members sometimes leave their groups. The member’s departure often sends a shockwave through the fandom, leaving fans confused, hurt, upset, and uncertain where to go from here.

So what’s a fan to do in these circumstances? How can you handle a member’s departure in a godly and healthy way, especially if that member is your favorite? Continue reading

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Has a performer inspired you to make a change in your life? A few points to keep in mind.

Due to their talent, personalities, physical attractiveness, and high public profile, performers often become role models to their fans, inspiring them to make changes in their lives. Continue reading

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What can you do when your favorite performer doesn’t notice you?

For a dedicated fan, there is no greater thrill than being noticed by their favorite performer. This may take the form of interaction during a concert or other event, an exchange during the audience-participation segment of an interview, or a response on social media.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that some fans may never receive the recognition they desire from their favorite performers. This can be painful and disappointing, especially if the fan has been a long-time supporter and is still waiting to be noticed.

So what’s a fan to do in these circumstances? Continue reading

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Dealing with disappointment as a performer and a fan

Disappointment is an unfortunate reality in the entertainment industry for performers and fans alike. For performers, this may take the form of being passed over for a work opportunity they really wanted or being denied an award that they deserved. Both of these circumstances are also disappointing for fans, who want to see the performers they admire honored for their talents and given plenty of opportunities to use them. Continue reading

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How to pray for and encourage performers through social media

You’ve decided to take the Prayers for Oppa Performer Prayer Challenge and pray for a performer and encourage them through social media. But how exactly do you do this? Chances are you don’t know the performer personally, so how can you be sure the messages you’re sending them are relevant to their circumstances and pleasing to God?

In addition to the more specific guidance you’ll find in my Prayers for Oppa performer/fan devotional book, here are a few practical tips to guide you on your way: Continue reading

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