Unification News for March 2004
The work of Dr. Joshua Ben Ami, and a great meeting in Miami
Rev. Michael Jenkins
We are deeply grateful for Dr. Joshua Ben Ami for the sacrifices that he made and the transition he went through in working over the years with IIFWP and World Media Association to gain confidence in his life of faith and trust for Father Moon to the degree that he believed that it was correct for Jewish representatives to give Jesus a crown on December 22nd, and again on February 4th. At the Feb. 4th event at the Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., before US senators, congressmen, representatives from the administration, and other key religious leaders and Ambassadors for Peace from all 50 states, Dr. Ben Ami led a delegation of three prestigious Jewish leaders coming forward in prayer, carrying a crown for Jesus similar to that which was given to King David thousands of years ago. Mr. Baruch Shalev and Dr. Eliezer Glaubach were in support, with Baruch carrying the purple robe of a king.
Dr. Ben Ami is currently the dean of the Emil Frank Institute in Jerusalem, affiliated with the University of Trier in Germany. He is a theologian and historian. He said, "Actually, there should have been no division between Jesus and his family. As I studied from a theological and historical perspective, Jesus was quite popular with the Jewish people, but it was the status quo and the establishment that were threatened by his popularity. This led to a rejection that should not have occurred. Jesus is our elder brother. We should respect him and love him to heal the division of the history between the Christians and the Jews. This process of healing began when Christians in America had the courage to see Jesus and his love as the center of their faith and remove their crosses, stating that the cross was not the true symbol of Christianity, and that Jesus should have been embraced.
"It was this act of taking down the cross in America that moved and continues to move the hearts of Jewish leaders in Israel. Because of this there is a growing trust for the ACLC movement in Israel. It is a Christian-based movement that also includes Muslim clerics and Jewish rabbis and scholars, and has transcended the period of history in which Christians have sought to convert Jews. Their leaders openly profess that our brotherhood will bring us together as one in the love of God, and that there is no more need for any conversion."
Dr. Ben Ami impacted America in a powerful way by meeting many rabbis and key Jewish leaders. To the absolute amazement of all involved, there is definitely a breakthrough occurring both in spirit and in substance between Jewish leaders, Christian and Muslim leaders. This is a profound moment in history.
We met the most influential rabbi in Washington and Dr. Ben Ami testified about ACLC removing the crosses, and the impact of the repeated pilgrimages on the Holy Land Ė the fact that the pilgrimages not only embrace Jewish leaders but also make repeated trips into Gaza and Ramallah and have now established trust with top Muslim clerics and authorities within both Palestine and Israel. Speaking in Hebrew, he and his wife Shoshana conveyed a testimony about the work of peace that was going on in the Heart-to-Heart campaign. Dr. Ben Ami later shared with me, "What I said was, I will never change from being a devoted Jew, religiously and spiritually, but somehow a door has opened in which I clearly see God guiding Jews, Christians and Muslims, who are all children of Abraham, to take their God-given place in the same family together as brothers. I am confident that any rabbi that sees the work that I see of repentance and healing, in which Christians are repenting for not having loved and embraced their elder brothers, for Jews reconciling with Christians, and Muslims reconciling with Jews, I am confident that every rabbi I talk to will be transformed because a new era has dawned in history. It was the era that was prophesied by Isaiah and Ezekiel and Zechariah. The prophetsí voices and words are now coming true before our eyes. Therefore, with each rabbi we are meeting I feel that I can embrace them, and if they feel the call of God then we will automatically begin to work for peace together in our homeland."
Dr. Ben Ami and Shoshana then traveled with Rabbi David Ben Ami and Rev. Jenkins to Miami, Florida, where an ACLC meeting was organized by Rev. Hong, Mr. Gunter Freystetter, Rev. Gary Chidester and Mrs. Lily Kato. Dr. Joshua Ben Ami and his wife were totally inspired to see that the clergy are becoming stronger in their conviction to continue the work of peace in the Holy Land.
There in our meeting in Florida Rev. L.B. of a mainline denominational church stood up and said, "For all these years Iíve heard about Rev. Moon working to unify us as Christians, and I must say I felt uncomfortable, and yet I stretched to begin to embrace my Pentecostal brothers and sisters and people of other denominations. As soon as I began to feel comfortable with that, Rev. Moon stretched us to not only embrace Christian denominations but Muslims and Jews. I must say it wasnít until today that I believed it would be any fruit. I must say honestly that I thought this effort would totally fail, but today my heart has changed. Something has happened in my heart where I can see from the video, the Path to Peace, from the presentation from Rev. Jenkins, and also from hearing the testimony Ė a testimony I thought Iíd never hear in my life Ė from a Jewish scholar testifying that Jews must love and embrace Jesus. I can see that the interreligious work of Rev. Moon is absolutely bearing fruit and itís working. I could feel from the testimony of Dr. Ben Ami that itís not just working to bring religious leaders close together but itís breaking down the wall between Palestine and Israel. This is an amazing phenomenon. I thank God that Rev. Moon never wavered in his conviction that God would bring us all together."
Rabbi F of the largest synagogue in Miami stood up and shared. Though he grew up in Russia, his English was perfect, without a trace of accent. [Itís really a testimony to the great work of the Miami region centering on Rev. Hong and the team that works together there. They have such good unity that they bring the top quality people from all denominations and religious, and truly they are on the cutting edge of bringing Muslims, Christians and Jews together. Miami is shining.]
Rabbi F stood up and said, "Iím profoundly moved by this experience today, but somehow I feel that destiny is calling us and calling me personally to go this way. I feel no fear of people of other religions because my own personal conviction in God is absolute and real. I feel God is guiding me down the path that he has prepared, and that path is leading us all to come together. As a Russian Jew I was bitterly persecuted when I grew up Ė harassed, mocked, ridiculed, and I couldnít understand why. In the Soviet Union we were not allowed to read the Torah, to read any of the prophets or the Scriptures. I never read one word all of my life from the Scriptures. So when the door opened and I could come to America, I really wanted to study why I was being persecuted so much. I felt the best way was to study the Scripture, so I went through the New York Jewish Theological Seminary, and I ended up responding to Godís call to be a rabbi. I now lead a great congregation in Miami and believe that somehow my meeting with Dr. Ben Ami today and Rabbi David Ben Ami and Rev. Jenkins and others is not by chance. I feel something is very special here." Because of this experience Rabbi F joined the ACLC on the spot and signed membership.
Rabbi David Ben Ami also shared at the meeting. He felt America was prepared by God to bring the religions together. He said, "Years ago I worked in the South. I moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi intentionally to support Dr. King and the civil rights movement. I suffered greatly there in Mississippi, side by side with black religious leaders and black people. Somehow I could feel the plight of black people and Jewish people is very similar and tied together. Both have been through the path of slavery, both have held on to religious convictions to overcome the trials and tribulations of an evil world. In the American Forum for Jewish-Christian Cooperation I have now expanded the institute to be the American Forum for Jewish-Christian-Muslim Cooperation. I really want to thank Rev. Moon for his courage to continue this work beyond all kinds of criticism to strengthen America and strengthen the fundamental religious underpinnings of this nation that are tied to the Judeo-Christian heritage, and also linked to the Muslim faith in terms of principle and family. I am so encouraged by being here in Miami.
"For many years Iíve tried to open the door for rabbis to come and participate with this movement. So much misinformation and distortion has been put out that many people stand in fear of Rev. Moon as just another Christian seeking to convert Jews. But I have found over the years that my Jewish heritage and my faith has been strengthened by my relation with the Washington Times Foundation and the IIFWP. The scripture says, how beautiful it is when brethren dwell together in unity. I see here in Miami the beauty of the scriptures being fulfilled. I am so encouraged to see other rabbis joining the movement. I am very partial to rabbis. I believe that they have the longest history of relationship wit the scriptures. Therefore, they should be he wise teachers. We need them and yet we need our Christian leaders and Muslim leaders together to move this world in Godís direction, to strengthen families and build a culture of religious freedom and respect for all people." The atmosphere in the meeting was electrified after the rabbis testified about joining ACLC and were totally embraced by the Christians.
Another pastor, Rev. Huelta, said, I want to tell how I met this movement. I am more sure than ever before that Rev. Moon has been chosen by God to bring the Kingdom of God. I was a colonel in the Air Force and a military officer when I was invited to the CAUSA military alliance. In the mid-1980s conferences were held for military officers concerning the principles of Godism and the dangers of God-denying communism. Being an exile from Cuba, I was immediately taken by Rev. Moonís having been exiled from his own country when communism took over. It was there as an officer that I came to know that I could trust Rev. Moon. I never dreamed that one day I would become a pastor. Somehow God touched me and I ended up going through seminary and got my doctorate of ministry at Yale Divinity School. But no matter what circles I participated in Christianity, I could never forget what Rev. Moon has done to practice the gospel and really show what it means to have faith in Jesus.
"When I went to the Holy Land with Rev. Jenkins, I saw the reality of Godís work at the most central cutting edge. We are now engaged in a very serious battle to unify all believers. That means Muslims, Christians and Jews. I was deeply moved when I was invited to go to Gaza and stayed overnight in the Jerusalem International Hotel. The environment there was very serious and yet I always felt peace in my heart. It was truly beautiful. I saw the Holy Spirit move in Gaza. I saw Muslims being touched by the love of God and I could see that truly if we pursue this path, the religious path, we can build a common bond of faith that transcends our religious barriers and allows us to become the people of God to challenge the forces of darkness and the forces that stand against peace, to challenge them now not with weapons of war but with words of truth and love.
"I really believe that Rev. Moon will bring peace in the Middle East and I am so grateful to be a part of this movement. Dr. Antonio Betancourt shared so much with me about how this movement has developed, and he took me to Gaza. Iím very grateful to him and for the work we shared together. I also want to thank Gunter and honor the serious work thatís going on here in Miami. Itís another part of the larger work thatís going on globally by Rev. Moon and the ACLC to bring Godís kingdom. I have hope in my heart. My eyes are filled with tears. We will see the liberation of all people who are oppressed if we pursue this path with absolute sincerity."
Rev. Byron Filus, one of the founding members of the ACLC in May of 2000, stood up and shared, "I'm so proud of ACLC. Iím proud to be part of this movement. The thing thatís most encouraging to me is how itís focused on blessing and strengthening the family. Unless we bring the Holy Spirit into the family, there can be no peace at home, and if thereís no peace at home, there will be no peace in the community. This movement is dealing with the most fundamental aspects of healing Ė of family and marriage."
Rev. Don Olson, a Lutheran who is also a founding member of ACLC, said, "I want to say how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to be here today. We attend many meetings together and many times I have been challenged and even concerned about which way we were going and how this would all turn out, but somehow I see over the years that this is bearing fruit I never imagined. Itís really working. Very different from what I expected, but it is bringing Christian and religious leaders from all backgrounds together. Iím proud of be part of this movement. My wife and I are grateful to have had the chance to work together with all of you here and with Rev. and Mrs. Moon."
We concluded that night with dinner and a boat ride through the Ft. Lauderdale waterway. These moments are so precious because weíre bonding together. When I traveled with Dr. Ben Ami and Shosh, Dr. Glaubach and Baruch, and now with my Palestinian and Muslim brothers and sisters, we are all becoming one family. The same feeling that I feel with the ACLC pastors is now rising and developing with rabbis and Muslim clerics. The time of the kingdom has come. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
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