Unification News for December 2003 and January 2004

Jerusalem Pilgrimage Testimony

by Pastor Carl V. Rawls

To our leaders and my brothers and sisters. I was blessed to be a participant in the first Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I believe it is a mission that God has chosen me to do. A mission of spreading love, forgiveness and peace. On the first pilgrimage, we were greeted with guns and hostility. The air was filled with tension and concern. However, on the second pilgrimage, we were met with roses, hugs and kisses from our Japanese missionaries and others. The air was filled with total peace and comfort. My spirit was at peace.

Like the first pilgrimage, it was a privilege to visit the sites in Rome such as Paul's church, the Sistine Chapel and other places that I had only read about. It was also a tremendous blessing to walk in Jerusalem in some of the very paths Jesus walked, visiting Bethlehem, Mt. Of Olives, and the Sea of Galilee to name a few. Then there was the march. Arm in arm we marched, 500 strong. What a pivotal point in history as we marched together. Christian, Muslim and Jews, at a time of unrest in the Middle East. Christian, Muslim and Jews (God's children) together at the Al Aqsa Mosque. Christian, Muslin and Jews (God's Children) together at the Wailing Wall. Marching together in unity. Such a march of this type and magnitude had not occurred before. It was unbelievable to see barrier after barrier removed as the heart of those who sought to stop us was soften to allows all religions to respect the holy places and rally together, embracing each other as one family under God. Absolutely amazing! The providence set through the prayers, love and vision of Father and Mother Moon paved the way for this incredible pilgrimage for peace.

After returning home from the first mission in May, I saw a report about a bombing in Gaza. I turned to my wife (Marilyn) and said God is going to send me to Gaza. Every time I saw a news report on television concerning Gaza I would say to my wife, I know God is going to send me to Gaza. I don't know when, but I'm going to have to go. The call to Gaza came during this second pilgrimage. What God had revealed to me in my spirit was coming to pass. Selected as part of a delegation to go into Gaza, there was no fear. God was with us. Detained at the checkpoint for nearly three hours kept us out of harms way as we later learned of a bombing. God was with us. We marched into Gaza with the same determined spirit as if we were still marching 500 strong. There was no fear, only peace. There was a hedge of protection all around us. I know God sent me there to see all of the destruction so that my heart would become more compassionate like His heart.

This movement of God to bring an end to divisions is real and serious. True Parents vision of reconciliation is remarkable and crucial for human kind. This movement of ACLC under the direction of True Parents to bring peace is a reality. I am living it! I tell the members of my church (Hopewell) that I am living it. I am a part of restoration. This is real! We must have the same type of love in our hearts that God has for ALL of our brothers and sisters. Revelation 7:9 says, "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands."

We are planting seeds of peace and reconciliation that one day will be harvested. This is just the beginning. There is a lot of work ahead. All of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East need our prayers and help. Let us continue to pray and ask God to give them and us the kind of love He has for the world and human kind. Through true love peace will come.

I am deeply thankful to Father and Mother Moon and to our leaders for allowing me the privilege of serving and truly living for the sake of others. I was privileged to have had the opportunity to bond with my brothers and sisters on "the green bus" who included such wonderful people as Mrs. Jenkins, Bishop George Craig of Birmingham, Alabama and our Atlanta family, among others. To all of you, I say, thank you.

Lastly, words cannot adequately express how spiritually extraordinary it was for me to meet True Parents. I am truly grateful.

From Selma, down the streets of Jerusalem, to the Wailing Wall, to the Al Aqsa Mosque, (Dome of the Rock) to Gaza, to the UN.

Peace, Shalom, Salaam Ailaikam. Peace, Shalom, Salaam Ailaikam. 

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