The following article first appeared in the October 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
Todd Morehead had always dreamt of one thing—becoming a professional surfer. Growing up in California, he could think of nothing else. But there was a competing focus that eventually won out—a desire to travel in service to the Kingdom of God.
Fortunately, Morehead came to realize his two passions could be combined. “I found myself working for different Christian organizations, not only doing ministry, but also surfing,” he says in the opening to his documentary film Promised Land.
Eventually, those travels brought him to Israel.
“I’ve been able to go all around the world, but Israel keeps coming to the forefront of my mind,” explains Morehead. “My heart is that all Christians would find a really deep-seated love for the Jews, and that they would discover how Jewish our faith is.”
Amid refurbishing bomb shelters in the Galilee with Shelters of Hope and befriending local surfers, Morehead realized other Christians needed to know the struggles of Israelis who want to live in peace but are forced to face constant conflict, and why this should speak to anyone who believes in the Bible.
“As Christians, God calls us to love the Jews,” he asserts. “I feel a debt of gratitude toward the Jewish people.”
Besides his hands-on, practical ministry work, Morehead began to lead groups of other Christian surfers to visit the Holy Land and catch some Israeli waves.
Promised Land is the continuation of that work. In the stunning, hour-long documentary, Morehead highlights his friendship with the Israeli surfer community, its history, the challenges faced by all living in the Jewish state, and how, in whatever small ways possible, a handful of Christian surfers are working with their Israeli counterparts for peace. He also intersperses biblical and historical teachings.
Two people along to help Morehead were world-renowned surfing champion Tom Curren and California-based Messianic rabbi Barney Kasdan.
“As Christians, [Israel] is a very important place for us,” says Curren. “It was really moving to see Jerusalem for the first time. To think that so much hinges on what happens to Jerusalem; it’s such an important place.”
While Curren was moved by his first Holy Land experience, those in Israel familiar with surfing were moved by the presence of such a legend.
“Almost everywhere we went, word got out somehow that Tom Curren is in the Land,” recounts Kasdan, adding jokingly, “I’d almost say it was like Elijah coming ahead of the Messiah.”
The film concludes with Morehead’s Israeli surfer friend Hani stating, “I believe that God gave the Jewish people this land. It’s there, it’s in the Bible.”
Nevertheless, Morehead has found that in the charged atmosphere of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many Christians no longer believe that. He told Israel Today that his next project is a documentary “exploring my continued journey in Israel, seeking truth specifically behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the goal of giving a proper Christian response.”
After already producing Promised Land which has had a positive impact on young people prone to adopting the “Palestinian cause,” we wondered why an additional documentary was necessary. Morehead pointed out that the new anti-Semitism disguised as social justice requires a direct response.
“Christians are being told from both secular and Christian media that if they believe in justice then they need to stand with the underdog, who are always portrayed as the Palestinians,” he said. “But we believe that if people really care about justice, then they need to look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a broader lens, a lens that considers the destructive influence of radical Islam within Palestinian society and the Middle East.”
And, of course, for Christians there is the fact that all of this is part of “God fulfilling His covenant promises to the people of Israel,” which includes “a redemptive plan and a deep love for the Arabs living in the region.”
Check out Promised Land at promisedlandthemovie.com
To contact Todd Morehead about this and his upcoming project: firstname.lastname@example.org