Sunday and Monday I was just plain exhausted and it was very hard to think about our National Shabbat gathering, never mind begin to process and share some thoughts… While I am still recovering (12+ hour work days make restful Shabbats that much more precious), I am beginning to put together some thoughts that may prove valuable. The following are in no particular order and may be a bit random, but I want to share some lessons, ideas, thanks, etc.
I was overwhelmed by the response and am confident that Abba’s people, and particularly the Messianic community are prepared and yearning for fellowship of the kind we experienced December 5th at the SC National Shabbat. Clearly, it is more than just me or a few of us who desire to begin building bridges and coming out of our corners to be echad (unified, but not necessarily uniform). As a guesstimate, there were about 225 people there, but most everyone I spoke with knew of others who wanted to attend but for one reason or another were not able. Essentially, the numbers could have easily been doubled. What a glorious turnout with all praise and thanks go to our King!
In the weeks leading up to the day, we all prayed a good bit for beautiful weather. When searching for a host site, Abba led us to Ron Cowart’s campground, but our immediate concern was weather. In our human wisdom, having seen so much rain the last few weeks, we were concerned that a turnout over 100 would be in serious challenges if it rained. For the ten days prior, I checked my weather forecaster daily and watched with increasing anticipation as the forecast steadily improved, day by day, until we stood under crystal clear blue skies in 59º sunshine. What a blessing and stamp of approval from our King!
Before going to the B’ney Yosef Congress, Kelly and I traveled to Adat Shalom in Summerville to explain our purpose. Upon our return from Israel we again traveled to report on the Congress. The entire congregation and leadership (Ray and Brenda Gardner) understood and expressed desire to see this moved forward. One couple, Tommy and Dorothy Wilson, in particular really connected with us and after a few preliminary meetings to get to know each other and ‘bond,’ we prayed for Abba’s wisdom and guidance to put on a National Shabbat gathering in South Carolina. Their organizational skills and contacts were invaluable as we became an adhoc planning committee communicating by phone, email, text and in person for praying and planning. I really thank Abba for Tommy and Dorothy’s gifts and talents! This event could not have happened without them.
It was clear at points throughout the promotion of the event that most people do/did not understand the underlying purpose of the National Shabbat gatherings. I ran into individuals and congregation leaders who mistakenly considered this to be competition, others who thought we were a ministry and still others who had no idea what the vision is. For these reasons, it is apparent that we need to better articulate the vision. Interestingly, this is a similar experience by Al McCarn leading up to and at the Region 35 Conference that just occurred.
|Some quick thoughts on the vision that needs further development…
When modern day Israel was established as a nation, it was largely secular Jews who did the grunt work for the governmental structure and the opening of the land. Many religious leaders and particularly the Orthodox not only were against forming the nation, but felt their position and authority was being threatened. As a result there was a lot of unnecessary tension between the two parallel tracks of religious leaders and secular/governmental leaders. Neither side realized that they needed each other and they were not in competition… just different parts of the Body. (The Body has many parts… eye not say to the hand… )
A similar situation seems to exist today among many Messianic Torah teachers and congregation leaders. We are truly blessed with a growing crop of terrific teachers that are very studied in the Word, however that calling does not necessarily qualify them to perform other work that needs to be done toward the gathering of the Messianic Community.
At the First Bney Yosef Congress, we had a full vision statement heading into the Congress that we chose to table to further allow a time of prayer and seeking the Father’s face for clear direction. I suspect that vision statement will shortly be taken up due to the need for a more clear articulation to the Body of the purpose of Bney Yosef gatherings.
More as I have more to share…
Promotion for the event was a multi-prong effort. We used Facebook, personal contact connections, this blog, emails and the 119Ministries’ Hebrew Roots map. Several very active leaders in the state took up the banner and spent time calling and emailing as many as they could through their own contact list. At the event we collected email lists to put together a distribution list for future events, hopefully making promotion easier and more thorough throughout the state and surrounding areas.
Some asked why we did not have a Torah study. We chose not to because our promise to congregational leaders was that our purpose was not to undermine their position or chance discussion on fringe topics that often divide. Rather our purpose was to worship and fellowship in order to build bridges and foster community.
Interestingly, much of what we learned was echoed on The Barking Fox concerning lessons they learned at their own slightly different Bney Yosef conference the same weekend. Like Al & Co., we felt led of the Spirit every step as He guided and provided. The one area where we tried to walk in our own strength, He gently corrected, pointed us a different direction and things came together.
Dorothy put together a survey for those who attended to add their thoughts so that we can plan and improve the next SC National Shabbat gathering. If you attended, please take this very quick survey.
In the future we plan to have committees from across the state to take charge of some of the areas of detail so that we can begin to see the Body step up and work together.
Pray for the coming months as there are several important gatherings happening among Bney Yosef leadership.