Unification News for August 2003
Phoenix is on fire in the Spirit of the Lord
by Rev. Michael Jenkins
Phoenix is like Israel. It is a hot desert that supports civilization only through irrigation. Like the temperature of Arizona (which was 110 degrees while I was there) the Phoenix family is hot. On Saturday, July 26th about 100 clergy and religious leaders gathered for an IIFWP/ ACLC gathering entitled, Uniting The Children of Abraham. The focus was on the unity of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders who were there.
Rev. Forrest Lee Melton of the Baptist Church has been playing a major role in the work to bring unity of the Body of Christ in Phoenix. He is a fine Pastor who is doing work not only with the Christian church community and ACLC but has a special calling to work with the Indian Community in Phoenix. His son, Lee is going to the Lasting Love Conference. He mentioned to me how excited he was to be with ACLC and the feeling that came when Bishop Stallings visited last time. God is working through him to bring many different elements of the religious communities of Phoenix together. Rev. Melton was the MC for the special prayer breakfast entitled Abraham's Children The meeting was powerful. At 9:30, our starting time, the room was full with our guests. Immediately upon entering, I felt how special Phoenix is. The cooperation of the family there is outstanding. Senator Mark Anderson brought one of our former AFC President and founding member of AFC, Mr. Gene Hutloff. Also, key leaders, such as Joyce and others who are influential in the community came with the Senator. The meeting reminded me of the Ambassadors for Peace / American Leadership Initiative. The diversity of leaders assembled was a sign of the change in the providence. From the beautiful participation of many Sikh leaders, to Rev. Leon the American Indian Christian to Rev. Bette Tatalajski who has went on the Pilgrimage to Israel in May.
The breakfast opened with a prayer from Rev. Lee Melton. Mark Hickler and Dan Fernelius created a beautiful atmosphere with inspired music, Arizona style. Down home, clean, powerful and honest! Rev. Melton's anointed and enthusiastic spirit permeated the whole atmosphere. Rev. Melton and Rev. Nora were particularly inspired because Rev. Melton's son Lee (a college student) and Rev. Nora's grandchildren (Kelsey and Logan -- also outstanding college students) are going to the Lasting Love Conference. The feeling in Phoenix is that everyone from politicians, to students to clergy to professors all have a place in the Ambassadors for Peace movement.
Rev. Kwon opened with a very thoughtful written address highlighting Father's words concerning the unity of religions and the path of peace. He read from True Parents keynote address at the 9th WCSF, July 10th in Asan, Korea. "In the present age many countries are realizing that the security of their nation is not an issue that can be addressed by any country alone. No country is free from International Issues of war, terror and the threat of nuclear weapons. World leaders agree that harmony and cooperation among religions is necessary for the state of world peace, as this is even more important following September 11th. For the past three years, I have warned about the dire threat of conflict among religions and finally now people are beginning to understand the seriousness of these issues." This set the tone and spirit for the gathering.
Then the powerful new 20 minute video "Beyond the Cross -- The Road to Victory in Jerusalem." had people in the audience in awe. Seeing 132 Christian leaders carrying the cross to the Potter's field in slow motion and then laying it down proclaiming that this will mark the end of the history of bloodshed and strife between the Abrahamic Faith traditions. To see the sights of the suffering history of the children of Abraham and to pray there and finally to bury our enmity there created a tearful atmosphere of reverence and sincerity.
Then Rev. Bette Tatalajski, a pastor from a power movement of Christians in Tucson gave a testimony and an introduction to myself. Her testimony was so real. She said how astonishing it was. She had been on "tours" with Christians before to Israel but she heard that Father Moon said this was a "Mission" -- a "Pilgrimage." She said, "Father Moon was right, this was no sightseeing tour. This was a mission. I never dreamed in all of my life that I would see with my own eyes the Rabbis and Jewish leaders in tears because for the first time in their lives they felt genuine real love from Christians. For ourselves as Christians, we were overwhelmed with the feeling that we had found our long lost relatives." She said the trip was hard work (which it was) but rewarding.
Rev. Bette (she prefers we call her this because no one can pronounce her last name except her relatives and members of the her church) had brought several key leaders there. They were Rev. Nora Allen, Rev. Sally Phillips, Rev. Carolyn Larabee, Rev. Kristine Fossatti, Rev. Barbara Burloch. These women spiritual leaders are very pure and serious about the gospel as well as the need to respect and understand the spiritual world. These Christians are very, very important. They are very serious about the Divine Principle. Having attended the convocation in LA they immediately understood and received confirmation from the heavenly realm that it was true. Father and Mother Moon are anointed for this age. They have stood very strong since that time, taking down their cross and going to Israel on the Pilgrimage. Rev. Bette along with Rev. Nora Allen (her physical sister) are very loving of all races, religions and peoples and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. They love God and live according to His word. They and their movement which is called the Temple of Universal Understanding remind me very much of the spiritually-oriented Christians that first supported Father Moon in the early days of the movement from the Inside Belly Church. It seems that this pattern is repeating itself in America. These women leaders are strong on marriage and family and spiritual laws and covenants from the scriptures. They also are led by the love of Jesus to see and experience Divine truth in all sincerely religious people. They help bring unity. They are beyond race as their movement embraces and has members from all races and backgrounds. Their presence is blessing and provides a very good base of prayer and blessing for the ACLC in Arizona and throughout America.
We who seemed to be strangers we not strangers, of course. Our spirits recognized each other. In each sacred place tears flowed freely as we were touched, lovingly, by the spirit of friends from long ago. The martyred Christians were happy to receive us, and to be freed, liberated from their despair. Thank you, ACLC, for this precious experience.
A MOST INSPIRING MOMENT was when the Rabbi said, "This embracing of Christians, Muslim and Jews is the greatest moment in two thousand years." That moment, for me, was the high-light of the trip. Second to that was placing my signature on the Peace Proclamation, the Jerusalem Declaration that created a new bond of love between all the sons and daughters of Abraham. "Thank you, God." Meeting the Jewish man whose nineteen year old son was killed in a suicide bombing and whose organs were donated to a twelve-year-old Palestinian girl was of such magnitude that our hearts will forever bear the memory.
The gratitude of our Jewish and Muslim guests and our easy and quiet connection with them was magical. One couple encouraged us to return to
Jerusalem on the 4th of July as their guests. "We want to celebrate American Independence Day with you. Our prayers are being answered," they said.
The ritual of Taking Down the Cross and its burial in Potter's Field was stunning. Another great benchmark in human history. I'm certain that it stirred the hearts of the many in spirit who were slain by the sword -- as they perceived it to be the Cross of Christianity, the Cross of Conversion. Symbolically it brings relief to Jews and Muslims alike; and it brings peace to our hearts to replace this cross with a crown. The dove of peace, representing the Holy Spirit, encircles that crown.
Thank you, Father Moon, and ACLC, for holding your vision; for using your energies and resources for the good of humanity and for allowing us to participate in this most powerful and important happening in the history of humanity for the past two thousand years." Thank you Rev. Bette. At this point Rev. Lee Melton was deeply inspired with joy to see this kind of testimony and outpouring. He said, "I have one thing to say, I'm going to Israel with ACLC on the next trip. I want to be part of this history of the work of God."
To highlight the diverse backgrounds of the participants another important leader was asked to give testimony about her recent experience as an Ambassador For Peace and the program that was launched by IIFWP on Capitol Hill. Mrs. Joyce Downey, a most sophisticated lady, who's work is in politics shared very honestly, "When Senator Anderson asked me to be an Ambassador For Peace, I thought to myself, you have the wrong person. I work in politics and politics, from my experience is war. You want me to be a diplomat (ambassador) for Peace. Most organizations that have peace in their names are extreme liberal groups that want peace by eliminating all who are not liberal. I don't even like the word peace because of this and you want me to be an Ambassador For Peace? (The audience was enjoying this!) Then she said, I have to admit, I began to think, well I don't mind going to Washington. I must say that the different trips that I've gone on with the many organizations that were founded by Rev. Moon were first class. So I decided to go. I want you to know this particular trip was an awakening for me. It was similar to gatherings I've attended in the past but somehow it dawned on me that all the many conferences and events I've attended for the last 15 years have all had one common thread. They always had very good people from America from all races and religious backgrounds and they always had a spirit of harmony that you can't find. in such a situation. It touched me and it changed me. I've seen it before but this time I understood something. Rev. Moon is special in this way. His work leads to real peace. I then got my dictionary and looked up Ambassador and Peace. This time the definition fit. I am proud to be an Ambassador for Peace. I'm proud to be a part of this movement. America needs this movement. Thanks Senator Anderson. I'm an Ambassador for Peace."
We broke into round tables for greeting and deepening our friendship through dialogue then I was introduced by Rev. Bette. Using the powerpoint that summarizes the Israel Pilgrimage the theme of loving ones enemy was developed. Through the pictures and testimonies the Ambassadors for Peace could understand the living Divine Principle. The Divine Principle in practice -- that of loving ones enemies. Through the powerpoint the story of Jacob and Esau could be told and demonstrated through the embrace of Christians, Muslims and Jews. Also the Blessing as the key to solving the problem of family breakdown was presented. The blessing movement is growing and expanding in a most profound way. From the healing of marriages to the way the heart of World Religious leaders like Imam Kiwan from Jerusalem was moved to pray over the young couples. Now, through the July 5th Blessing, we could see that the Palestinian Moslem leader Dr. Jodeh could be moved to embrace Rabbi Shuki Ben Ami the Jewish leader. The Blessing has the power to heal the family, the nation and the religions of the world. The Ambassadors for Peace were so open hearted that I could freely tell how we must have faith at this time. We could teach about Abraham and that when he lacked faith his son had to be offered instead of a dove and pigeon but when he showed faith in his heart, his heart became the offering and his son did not have to die. The Ambassadors for Peace and the ACLC are like two giant movements of God, one representing the diplomats and the other representing the prophets. We have the power to transform America. We could feel it in Phoenix. Rev. Leon the American Indian Christian as well as the beautiful Sikh leaders were all one in heart by the end of the program.
Senator Mark Anderson concluded with encouraging words concerning responsibility and commitment to create a culture of stable families through legislation and social and community developments in cooperation with the state. The Senator will be coming to Washington soon. (My prediction) Senator Anderson invited the special leaders up to become Ambassadors for Peace and commissioned them together with Rev. Jenkins and Rev. Kwon and Mrs. Kwon. The final photo and follow-up lunch with key leaders could be summed up in one word: JOY.
Phoenix is 117 degrees in the daytime. But in the spirit is much hotter. In fact you could say its on fire. Go forth Phoenix and lead the revolution in America.
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