Sid and I were blessed last week to attend the UMJC summer conference which is the first time it has been held since 2019 due to Covid. It was an amazing experience not only to finally be able to get together after so much time had passed, but the long time coming brought with it a much more intense experience than it had been in previous years.
This get together is always a unique opportunity for Messianic Jews from across the states, and even from other countries as well, to learn from each other, develop new ideas, literally grow our movement, as well as provide deep fellowship. The lack of this interchange for so long enabled this years’ conferees to draw even closer as we shared the challenges of our synagogues and our movement during the years apart, co-travelers in unprecedented times. There were so many stories of tragic losses, inexplicably hard personal times, anger with God, making it so difficult to see His Presence. For so many the knowledge that our Abba will grow us even moreso in these times has been a difficult truth to which to cling.
Through the workshops, networking, music, sermons, services, and prayer HaShem used these years of pandemic and divisiveness that we had all experienced personally, communally, and societally, to lead us to healing, insights, and ideas as a community of hundreds now able to go forward better prepared for what lies ahead for our Messianic Jewish community. Without the suffering and sadness we would not have been able to fully understand, and appreciate, learn from, and be prepared for the days to come. We were given the ability to experience these teachings with hundreds of our fellow Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters, many being leaders in their own communities, now able to go forth and share life-giving words with their individual communities. Blessings beyond blessings.
Along with the usual outstanding Torah teachings and workshops, this year’s conference included many conversations of the unique times in which we live. Seeing long time friends and hearing of their strategies over the last several years to foster community in their synagogues was reassuring and enlightening. The presence of the Ruach was palpable, especially during the times of soul-filling music by Miqedem and Marty Goetz, true gifts of love from above, showered upon us to lift us up, immersed in the Ruach.
A singular highpoint for me were the words of Rabbi Stuart Dauermann’s son Chaim whose testimony of his coming to faith in Yeshua, by the way, is no less than miraculous. That is for another day. This year, literally less than two days before Shabbat, he was asked to do the sermon since the original speaker had developed Covid. Chaim’s words were exactly what all of us needed to hear.
As a young man in the middle generation so to speak, he gave a perspective that put our movement into focus. Our modern Messianic Jewish movement is, and has been for the last ten years or so, in a stage of major transition as our leaders who came to faith in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s are passing the baton to Chaim’s generation. This has been a necessity, but also, a challenge as so many of our congregations struggle to find that next group of young leaders. We are so blessed at Ruach Israel to have our Rabbi Emeritus Rabbi Rich and our next generation leader, our Senior Rabbi Nathan Joiner. At the conference we also could observe the blessing of babies, not just at Ruach, but also, in other congregations as well as the amazing baby boom of the past decade or more flourishes in our movement, truly HaShem’s Hand at work.
Chaim brilliantly wove the story of Moses and our ancestors entering the Promised Land with our times. He spoke words of encouragement to our older generation to not be discouraged since some feel that not enough has been done yet to advance Messianic Judaism to our Jewish brothers and sisters and grow our numbers. Rather, he was grateful to those who had come before, as he reiterated, Messianic Jews of his age now standing on the shoulders of giants.
He saw the role of his generation to keep the torch alive and to take on the responsibility with the older generation of mentoring the literally vast numbers that follow, perhaps that youngest generation being the ones closer to the promised days of fulfillment of the greater vision. His reminder of our timeline not being HaShem’s timeline was the message we all needed to hear as it is so easy to just look at the here and now, or even recent history and feel discouraged. Yet fifty or sixty years is as a blink to our Abba.
He encouraged us as he shared the views of his age group in which his Jewish friends don’t attach the same stigma to being Messianic Jewish as did his parents’ generation. His observations are, in fact, supported by recent polls on this subject which are amazingly encouraging. He enlightened us with his viewpoint and gave hope, and realism, with a fresh viewpoint. We were encouraged to open our minds to new ways of thinking, reminded to keep on keepin’ on. We are moving forward. Modern Messianic Judaism will not just be a couple generation movement.
A personal story he shared that impacted me personally was this. . .
His grandmother as she entered her seventies stopped doing some things she previously was involved in, slowed down a bit, saying now that she’s older this is what she should do. After she then lived over twenty years more she in her nineties told Chaim that had she known she was going to live that long, she’d have made different choices in her seventies and just kept going forward doing what she was doing then, and more.
And so, I am more reinvigorated than ever to keep on truckin’, full steam ahead to share the love and the truth of Yeshua with my Jewish brothers and sisters. In this season for me, after over twenty years of dialogue with my Jewish communities, I’m also being led to share with my Christian brothers and sisters in Florida (for now) who have never even heard of Messianic Judaism! I have a lot of work to do!
I’m learning to just follow the Ruach. Stop analyzing and self editing. Just follow the Ruach. . .
Whatever age we are, may we all be encouraged to share the light brightly, to bring forth more boldly, and with great anticipation, the amazing days to come.