by Donita Painter, September 2002
GRANTHAM, Pa. -- It was a moment to remember when Rabbi Robert Cohen led Promise Keepers leaders Coach Bill McCartney and Dr. Raleigh Washington to the Ruth prayer at Messiah 2002 in July.  The prayer came after McCartney recorgnized the Messianic Jewish movement and exhorted leaders to take a leadership role at a pastors rally to be held in Phoenix.

"Don't urge me to go.  Your G-d is my G-d.  Your people are my people. Where you live, I will live.  Where you die, I will die.  And where you're buried, I will be buried," the PK leaders repeated.

When Ruth said the prayer, "she became part of the lineage of Yeshua, and now you have become part of us," said Cohen.  "The sap of the olive tree is running through you."

The audience clapped and cheered, and Dr. Amnon Shor, liaison between Messianic movement and PK, blew the shofar.

McCartney, PK founder and president, was the featured speaker for the Wednesday night service at the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America's annual conference.  The event was held in Grantham, Pa., from July 7-13.

Washington, executive vice president for PK's Global Ministries, also spoke during the daily teaching sessions.

Rabbi Frank Lowinger of B'rith Hadoshah in Buffalo, N.Y., said his heart skipped during the historic moment.  He called it Cohen's "finest hour."

McCarney said in an interview minutes later that as he prayed the Ruth prayer, "the Spirit of G-D just leapt.  I felt a bond of the
L-RD that moment."

"We've got to come together to glorify G-D, bear fruit and fulfill our purpose.  In these laast days, what a witness it will be as things get more difficult," he added.

Launched in 1990, PK seeks to ignite and unite men to be passionate followers of Yeshua.  Nearly five million men have so far attended PK rallies.

It is the first Christian organization to recognize the Messianic Jewish community, Cohen told the Messiah 2002 audience.  During his message that evening, McCartney said the dominant culture, which he described as the "Anglo community, the Church at large in America," had been arrogant, negligent and fearful but that had changed.

"We've been wrong.  We haven't known who you were," he said.  "We know who you are now.  You're the vine; you're the Chosen People.  We're the wild olive tree grafted onto the pure vine.  What you have here is rich.  What you have here is what
we need in the Church."

He asked the Messianic Jewish community to lead in a unity effort at a pastors rally scheduled for February 18-20, 2003, in Phoenix.  McCartney said he envisioned oppressed communities standing before the "dominant culture" stretching out their hands, saying "Come near to me," as Joseph said to his brothers to reunite the family.

"Can I tell you why you've got to lead?" McCartney told the crowd.  "It is because you've suffered the most.  You have paid on all ends, but that day is over.  There is a new day here and the day of brotherhood is upon us.

"You have to hear it and you have to step into it and you have to recieve it.  And I know the only way you are going to be able
to do that is if you just give us mercy.  Don't give us what we deserve, give us what we need.  We need you.  See, there is
equality -- I need you.  I reach, you reach," he said. 

Messianic leaders' reactions ranged from cautious to expectant.

"Last night what I heard was a man who understood the difference and had an understanding that the Body of Messiah needed to look at the Messianic movement for direction for the entire Body of Believers, both Jew and Gentile," said Rabbi Murray Silberling of Beth Emunah in Los Angeles.

"But because of history, we always look ahead with caution, looking to see that the actions match the words.  If they do, we can support this as a very historical event for the Body of Messiah, and if they don't, then we can see this is another case of nice words of reconcilation that don't mean anything," he said.

Lowinger said he appreciated McCartney's work but saw an "abuser-type mentality where the abused feel as if they have to say,
"It is my fault and I'm sorry."

"We've been beaten up for 1,700 years.  The most necessary ingredient in any conflict between two parties is for the abuser to come to a place of repentance to open up the door for the abused to say, 'I forgive.'.

Rabbi Jim Appel of Shema Yisrael in Rochester, N.Y., said he had seen repentance toward ethnic groups occur at PK events he had attended, such as the 1997 Stand in the Gap rally in Washington D.C.when men, seeing his tallit, approached him and apologized.

"To me, we had already done that, and I received what Coach McCartney said as awesome," said Appel, who said he expected
the Phoenix event to be another breakthrough event and planned to attend.

"It is important to have more than symbolism, but the public display of acknowledgement of Messianic Judaism will educate,"
he added.  "It will slowly change attitudes of 50,000 pastors and the people they influence."

Rabbi Jonathan Bernis, a board member of PK's Messianic Advisory Committee, said the movement's collective attitude had been:  "We've had 2,000 years of abuse, and we'll do it on our own, thank you."

Instead, "we need to reach out to the Church again and help them come into the role of bringing about the restoration of Israel,"
he said.

McCartney was the "firstfruits of Church leaders that will come to understand and embrace the Messianic movement," he said.
Bernis is the executive director of Jewish Voice Ministries International in Phoenix.
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