Unification News for June 2003

Rome-Israel Pilgrimage - Pastor and First Lady Blocker

By Rev. Curtis Walker

During the twenty-one days since their return from the ACLC Rome-Israel Peace Expedition, Houston's own Pastor and First Lady Nathan and Maggi Blocker have been soaring at new spiritual heights as they strive to embody Isaiah 40:31/ "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint."

An Alumnus of the ICC since 1987, and a champion of faith-based initiatives, Rev. Blocker moves adeptly between and among Houston's power brokers as he works to expand Heaven's territory via success in such endeavors as the construction of affordable housing and the acquisition of land for the purpose of reinvigorating blighted inner-city neighborhoods.

As the Founder and CEO of a successful community development corporation and as the Pastor of the Second Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Blocker fulfills the following definition of a Christian leader, as articulated by Dr. George Barna, in his book, The Second Coming Of The Church: "A Christian leader is someone who is called by God to lead and possess virtuous character and effectively motivates, mobilizes resources, and directs people toward the fulfillment of a jointly embraced vision from God."

A heavyweight of community-based organizations in her own right, Mrs. Maggi Blocker, like her husband, has forged a vast network of friends and allies within Houston's circles of leadership. As Founder and CEO of her own community development corporation, she has spearheaded such endeavors as the Latch Key Afterschool Program, which is aimed at helping inner-city youth to succeed in school and life.

When the invitation to join the Rome-Israel Mission came to them -- literally at the last minute -- Pastor & Mrs. Blocker unselfishly answered Heaven's call. After all was said and done, and on the day of their departure, the Blockers were the sole representatives of Texas' ACLC non-FFWPU clergy aboard the flight.

On Saturday, May 24, four days after their return to Houston, Rev. and Mrs. Blocker joined us at Gloryland M. B. C. for our ACLC Monthly Prayer Summit. The Blockers' testimony of their Pilgrimage experience was scheduled to be the highlight of our gathering.

Pastor Blocker spoke eloquently and passionately as to how the tour had tremendously enriched them with regard to bringing to life so much of the settings and background in which the Biblical record is framed.

Holding up a five-inch-long, golden-brown, curved pod containing six beans, Rev. Blocker stated, "These are the 'locusts' which John the Baptist ate, as spoken of in Matthew 3:4. We thought that the 'locusts' John ate were the grasshopper-like insects, but they were, in reality, these beans, which are also used as a substitute for cocoa."

Slightly hushed "Ahhs" could be heard from us Bible students gathered in the room. The idea of the desert prophet surviving on these beans seemed to make more sense than the idea of his having to chase down, catch, and eat the winged, creeping, migratory insects that constituted Moses' eighth Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:4-6, 12, 15, 19).

Pastor and First Lady Blocker went on to testify to the fact that they, as Ambassadors of Peace, were moved by the opportunity to have been a part of such a peace mission as this tour.

In their work as community leaders and activists, they are constantly involved in transcending the barriers between and among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. This ACLC sojourn had provided them with yet another opportunity at the international level to do the same work.

Among the points made by the Blockers during their testimony (i.e., the Catacombs, Circus Maximus, St. Peter's and St. Paul's tombs, and the stop at Dimona) one point stands out with distinct sharpness. It is related to the life-threatening heart attack suffered by Bishop C. Phillip Johnson, on May 18, at the place called the "Potter's Field."

Upon their arrival at the "Field," Pastor Blocker felt a strong impulse from the Holy Spirit, urging him to not disembark, but rather to stay on the bus. When he decided to do just that, he was sure that he was the only person who had remained on board.

Minutes after everyone else had departed from the bus and had made their way to the "Field" for the cross-burying, Pastor Blocker looked to the rear of the bus and, to his surprise, spied Bishop C. Phillip Johnson, who had remained on the bus due to the fact that he had felt extremely fatigued since the preceding day.

Pastor Blocker approached Bishop Johnson, sat down across the aisle from him, and a friendly conversation ensued. Johnson, however, was so tired that he couldn't help dozing off. Blocker understandingly urged the Bishop to just take it easy and to get some rest.

Minutes later, Pastor Blocker heard a sudden, loud gasp. He immediately turned toward Bishop Johnson, who had passed out and was not breathing.

For the next several minutes, Blocker poured out all of his strength, shaking Johnson, talking to him, hitting him, and urging him to fight for his life. "What's my name, Bishop? What's my name?," shouted Blocker, as he shook Johnson. Slowly came the mumbled response, "I...don't...know...your...name." Bishop Johnson then slipped back into unconsciousness.

Pastor Blocker shouted, "Don't you die on me, Bishop! Here! Take this water bottle, and hold it tight! Don't you die on me!" As he spoke those words, Blocker wondered whether he should leave the bus and go for help. The Spirit of God immediately spoke to him and said, "Nathan, you are the help!" That settled that.

By the grace of God and Pastor Blocker's fervent prayer, Bishop Johnson managed to grasp and squeeze the water bottle. Pastor Blocker, while shouting, "Satan, you can't have him! Hold on, Johnson! Wake up, and hold on!," continued to hit and shake the Bishop.

By the time the rest of the pilgrimage returned to the bus, Bishop Johnson was again conscious and breathing. Had Pastor Blocker not remained on that bus, there would have been no one on board with Johnson, and the Bishop quite possibly would have died. Blocker testified that, for him, this was clearly "...an opportunity to be my brother's keeper."

This writer is aware of at least one occasion on which Bishop Johnson has telephoned the Blockers at their residence since their return from the expedition. It isn't difficult to imagine how dearly in his heart Johnson holds Pastor Blocker. There is no doubt that they'll be friends of faith for life.

On the afternoon of Monday, May 26, Pastor and First Lady Blocker invited my wife, Lori, and me for an evening at their home, to share reflections and to view both the digital photos from the pilgrimage and the video footage of the Rome scenery, the Israel scenery, and the footage of the "Conference for Jewish and Christian Reconciliation and Harmony." It was such a heartwarming time together, as we discussed the future expansion of the Blockers' already victorious foundation as well as the future of Houston's ACLC thrust.

Four days later, on the evening of Friday, May 30, Lori and I joined Pastor and Mrs. Blocker at a political campaign gathering, held at Ali Baba's Bar-B-Q & Grill.

The candidate, Mr. J. S., is a successful business man, running for Houston City Council. Mr. J. S. happens to also be a Pakistani Muslim, whose love for this country and its opportunity culture has compelled him to aspire for a career in public service. He has the highest love and respect for both Pastor and First Lady Blocker, both of whom were asked by the candidate to have words at the podium.

In addition, following the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, prayers were offered to open this gathering. First came a Muslim prayer, offered by the restaurant owner. Following that, the Lord's Prayer was offered by Pastor Blocker. The beautiful unity between Christians and Muslims was glorious to behold.

Pastor Nathan and Maggi Blocker are indeed a model of involved, creative, and anointed Christian clergy, whose faith-based and community-based leadership brings abundant treasure to the ACLC table. Lori and I are proud to call them friends, and proud that they could represent Texas during the Rome-Israel Pilgrimage.

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