I really have no idea how or where to begin. Not having written, or having had the time to write in the last couple weeks, I can tell you that I am ‘full.’ The Days leading up to the Summit and the Summit itself overloaded me physically, mentally and spiritually leaving me with more than I know how to process. But here is an attempt to share what I can share. Trust me when I say, there is still more that I can’t share… Abba has been VERY good and has confirmed again that we are on the right path and His Hands are all over what B’ney Yosef North America is doing on this continent.
In the days leading up to the Summit, the question was asked among the leadership, ‘why Mesa?’ It was not questioning the reason or wisdom in hosting the Summit in the Southwest, but a question of what the Father’s reasoning was for placing us in that particular place. The Phoenix metro area has 26 townships, Mesa being just one of them.
Al McCarn answered the question with, ‘Mesa means ‘table.’ Dorothy Wilson followed that with a link to a video, ‘He brought me to His banqueting table, His banner over me is love.’ We pondered what the Father might be setting on the table before us.
Getting the Summit together and promoting it was no small task. Going into the Second B’ney Yosef Congress in Israel last Sukkot, we knew BYNA was to have a Summit in early 2017, but most details had to wait until after Sukkot in order to ascertain the Father’s will from the Second Congress.
Long story short, by late October we felt led to be in Mesa preparing for a maximum of about 300 attendees. Contracts were signed with the Marriott Mesa, speakers invited and promotion began. Response was quite a bit slower than we expected.
A baby’s first year is always critical. So many things can go wrong, and BYNA is no different. Birthed barely a year ago in St. Petersburg, FL, we have been finding our way as we seek to follow the Father in doing something that has never been done before in the history of the world. Arguably the most prophesied event in history, maybe even more so than the Messianic prophesies, is the restoration of Ephraim as a people and the restoration of Kingdom Israel… kol (all) Israel.
Over the course of the last year BYNA has had an incredible number of hurdles to overcome, from the simple getting to know and learning to work together to external detractors of all stripes leveling false accusations and persistent misunderstandings. This led to a great deal of pressure on the BYNA leadership. In the waning months of 2016, friction and misunderstandings among the leaders manifested a real need to get face to face and dialog for better understanding, thus we chose to get to Mesa three days early for fellowship, prayer and discussion.
Again, long story short, the Father healed many wounds and drew us closer together while confirming HIS call upon us and the direction He is leading us. Abba’s fingerprints were many, but the most obvious was a sequence of events that occurred on Shabbat and on Sunday morning.
Dorothy Wilson, a member of the planning team for the three day leader’s gathering, felt led in the days prior to celebrate Tu B’Shevat as part of our Shabbat morning activities. To do so, four tables were set in our meeting room with an assortment of fruits and nuts in the center. We were instructed to sit at the tables and answer some probing questions as we partook of the fruits and nuts. The setting facilitated lively discussion as we further got to know each other and rotated from table to table. The Father had something else in mind….
Sunday morning we again gathered, only this time several of the speakers from the Summit joined us to speak just to the leadership. One of those brothers, seated at the table immediately behind me, was Suuqiina, Native American Inuit. When his turn came to share, he challenged us in a number of ways, but as he was wrapping up, he spontaneously decided to share a vision he had had a number of years ago. He said, “I saw a large meeting hall filled with tables that were covered in fruit. Seated at the tables were the white men, eating and enjoying the spread while singing, ‘He brought me to His banqueting table, His banner over me is love…’ Around the perimeter of the room were Native Americans of all tribes, standing and watching. They were singing, ‘He brought me to His banqueting hall, His banner over me is love…’ They were just happy to be in the room. Then,” Suuqiina continued, “those at the tables began to get up, go to the Native Americans and take them by the hand and lead them to the tables where all could partake together.”
There in the leadership meeting we were stunned and struck by the timing. Suuqiina had no knowledge of the previous day’s fellowship with fruit. Dorothy rushed out of the room and returned with a large platter containing an assortment of fresh fruit that she set before Suuqiina. We humbly asked for his forgiveness and proceeded to share fruit with him as the conversation and healing continued.
Suuqiina’s story is an amazing trek through the horrors of how poorly the United States has treated the indigenous people of this continent. He was taken from his parents at a very young age and schooled for a time in a residential (government) school intent on destroying his heritage and assimilating him into American culture before being adopted by a Swedish couple that relocated him to Minnesota and a difficult family situation. By the grace of our Father, he came to know the Messiah, was seminary trained and later returned to his people to relearn his ways and become an advocate. He and his wife, Qaumaniq, now have a ministry, Indigenous Messengers International, through which they travel and teach those who desire to learn a number of very important topics, not the least of which is protocol.
Before last year’s Summit, Suuqiina and the concept of protocol had crossed the BYNA radar. He has written a protocol handbook titled Warfare by Honor. In the book, Suuqiina lays out a case for the whys and hows of proper protocol. More importantly, he makes the case for spiritual boundaries and physical boundaries and how the Creator gave this land to the Native Americans. When Europeans came, we stole the land and committed atrocities against all First Nations Peoples. In doing so, we became thieves and robbers because we did not come in by the gate, rather, we broke in without permission. I will deal with the truths herein in the near future, but suffice it to say, there is a path to reconciliation both with the Native Americans and with the Creator. That path involves humility and proper protocol in approaching and seeking right relationships with those who have spiritual authority in this land.
So, before the last Summit, a delegation from BYNA met with a senior representative of the Seminole people as well as his translator and other honored persons. In the meeting our delegates gifted them with a tallit and asked their blessing. A fascinating conversation ensued that opened doors for continued conversation in the future.
This year, as we learned more about proper protocol, we knew not only that we had to do this again, but we needed to incorporate the protocol ceremony into the beginning of the Summit. Upon researching what tribal lands we would be on, we found that we needed to contact the Pima Maricopa Peoples. Amazingly, the Father orchestrated that through a ‘chance’ meeting that led not only to the Lieutenant Governor of the Pima Maricopa People attending, but also her pastor, as well as the Messianic Soaring Eagles Hebraic dance group. I’m serious! You can’t make this stuff up!
In the protocol ceremony we gave a tallit and honored them for their place in our Creator’s Kingdom as caretakers of the land. They offered a dance and a blessing in their native language. They further called all of the BYNA leadership up to give a protocol gift of a feather and salt to each as a reminder of the covenant between us in the Messiah.
Further, Suuqiina was asked to share his vision and then he was presented with a large bowl of fruit for he and all of the Native Peoples present.
The Summit was barely started and already it had hit a high, high note!!
Speakers addressed us over the next two days with round table discussions following each speaker. The table discussions allowed us to meet and get to know others from across the country while giving us time to process each speaker and interact with each other. All meals were taken together as part of the Summit. While the cost of food increased registration cost considerably, the fellowship and relationship building was priceless. I have been to conferences where the participants all scatter to their rooms or little cliques to eat PB&Js to keep costs down. This was the polar opposite with an infinitely better result: bridges were built and ideas exchanged as the participants gelled into ‘family.’
Hanoch Young, Iris Bouwman and John Conrad each had terrific presentations that encouraged, challenged and at times chastised us, but I think most would agree that Suuqiina’s talk was the highlight. He is one of the funniest guys I have had the pleasure of listening to, yet his presentation was pure medicine. The humor just helped the medicine go down! He deeply challenged the audience on their perspectives of Native American brothers and how Christendom has marginalized First Nations People. He encouraged us to learn the right way and to repent for the sins of our fathers and reject walking any further in their errors. It was healing balm!
All of these talks, the protocol ceremony as well as a rather wild retelling of the Prodigal Son parable (Suuqiina, Hanoch and Mikel Clayton teamed up for an unscripted barrel of laughs) will soon be available from BYNA as either DVDs or a digital download. I **think** the introductory price for the digital download will be $75 for a limited time. I can tell you, when that was announced near the end of the Summit, I practically ran to the BYNA table to pre-order mine and others had beat me there! Just the protocol ceremony and Suuqiina’s talk are worth the money, so the rest makes it quite a bargain!!
No doubt, there is MUCH more to process and tell in the coming days, particularly as it relates to protocol. For now, I will close with Mikel Clayton’s excellent thoughts on the Summit: