Over 65 people gathered at Clifton Family Church, for the Dec. 2, 2017, ACLC Prayer Breakfast. There was excitement and anticipation in the air. Bishop Rene Ballenas offered an Invocation that called for compassion, love and gratitude, which engendered a serene and peaceful atmosphere for the program.
Keynote speaker Bishop Jesse Edwards, (New York ACLC Executive Director), and his wife Rev. Tanya Edwards, (pastor of Manhattan Family Church,) sang two lively gospel songs that set the tone for the sermon. Then Bishop Edwards commented that they had been singing together since he was fifteen, evangelizing around this area (PA, NJ, and DE.) Only after meeting Rev. Moon did he have the opportunity to travel throughout the world to preach the gospel. He praised Rev. Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, for opening doors that they could not open, to preach the gospel where they could not have gone themselves. Father and Mother have not just done their mission; they have helped the Edwards do their mission too.
Bishop Edwards then asked everyone to turn to Luke, Chapter 7, in their Bibles. He began to talk about the story of the Pharisee asking Jesus to come to his house for a meal. Then he asked the audience, “How many of you have invited Jesus in your life? If you could get Jesus in your house, it would be a different place…maybe Satan would not be there so often.” He went on to explain that our body is God’s temple and He wants to dwell in us.” He returned to Luke, to the part of the story (in Lk, 7:36-50) about the unknown woman, a prostitute, who came to the Pharisee’s house with an alabaster jar, because she knew Jesus was there…. The alabaster jar (with expensive oil in it) was everything she had (of value). She didn’t hold anything back. Not like someone who leaves their wallet at home when they go to a classy restaurant for dinner (leaving someone else to pick-up the tab.) When we come to see Jesus we should bring everything. We should not hold back. Bishop Edwards never leaves home without Jesus.
Bishop Edwards revealed that it was the custom in Israel, at that time, to wash the feet of travelers when they enter the house, since the streets were dusty and livestock traveled the same road. The wife would wash the feet of the guest.
The unknown woman who knelt at Jesus feet was so overwhelmed to be in his presence that she began to weep profusely. She washed Jesus feet with her tears. This sounds like something that would only happen in a movie. However, Bishop Edwards testified that he had a similar experience of weeping profusely. He shared that one day, when he asked two of his Deacons to pray, the Deacons started praying in loud voices (one prayed in a corner and the other prayed while walking around the room), for an hour. It distracted him from entering into a deep prayer. He kept beseeching God to allow him to pray quietly like the woman who knelt at Jesus’s feet. He asked God to just let him touch His feet. Then he began to weep as he was kneeling in prayer. He had a vision of Jesus sitting there in a chair. He wrapped his arms around Jesus feet and hugging them. Bishop Edwards reminded everyone that Jesus said that he was one with the Father and that he does nothing except what the Father gives him to do. Nor does he speak anything except what the Father gives him to speak. Bishop Edwards then exclaimed, “That is being in oneness with God.” If our words and deeds are not God’s, we are not in unity with God yet.”
Bishop Edwards said he learned from the Biblical Principles that if we are one in heart with God, everything will work out for us. Then he shared testimonies of how God had blessed him and his wife in their ministry over the years. At one time, he and his wife moved into a town with no money and a broken down car. Bishop Edwards told God that he would not ask Him for anything for 3 months, if He would let him save the people who lived in that town. Soon afterwards they were given a million – dollar church and a Lincoln Continental. Bishop Edwards declared that when your only desire is to have Jesus in your house, he will give you the desires of your heart. Bishop Edwards emphasized how being in the right relationship with God and your spouse makes the foundation for abundant blessings to flow from God. Through times of great blessing or intense tribulation, he never relinquished his relationship to God or betrayed his wife.
Then he began to speak of Father Moon. He pointed out that Father Moon never wanted to build a church. He wanted to build one family under God. Most pastors are more concerned about owning their own sheep. Father and Mother Moon have brought understanding to the word of God. Bishop Edwards shared that he gained a deeper understanding and answers to tough questions in the Bible. He learned that it was not possible to pass on the sin of Adam and Eve through an Apple. The only way to pass on something to future generations is through blood lineage. If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense that God would kick His children out of the Garden just for eating an apple. Then, he returned to the story of the unknown woman at Jesus feet. He stated that Jesus forgave her of her sins. He added that God didn’t want the death of Jesus. He wanted tears of repentance. God wants our tears of repentance.
True Mother’s slogan for the rally at Madison Square Garden was “Peace Starts With Me.” We can’t have peace at the dinner table if we don’t have peace within. Bishop Edwards has a close friend who complains about everything when he comes over for dinner. God is looking for righteous people who are right with God and their spouse. With that kind of righteousness peace can come.
Recently, Mother Moon held a global rally in the World Cup Stadium, in Seoul, Korea, and invited 80,000 people to come. Bishop Edwards met a Presbyterian minister and asked him to go to Korea, for the rally. To his surprise, the minister informed him that he lived in Seoul. He pastors a large church there. He called other Presbyterian ministers in Seoul and told them they should come. He plans to develop an ACLC branch in Seoul.
Then Bishop Edwards shared that one of his sons left him and went to a Mega church, when he started to work with Father Moon. Recently, his son shared with him that he had received a revelation about Adam and Eve in the Garden, and the meaning of the fruit. Also one of his daughters who became an associate pastor in another church now preaches about the marriage blessing.
Bishop Edwards closed out with the following remarks. Jesus didn’t need to go to the cross…True Parents are the parents of all mankind… You must understand the anointing of Jesus to understand the anointing of True Parents.
After breakfast, Ms. Michelene Cato King, shared that when Rev. Grodner invited her to sing with the 2000 Voice Choir, at the rally in Korea, she told him she couldn’t go this time. Rev. Grodner insisted “The time is now.” Then she remembered Hebrews 11:1. “Now, faith…is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” She took a leap of faith and a flight to Seoul. When she sang at the Global Peace Rally, in the World Cup Stadium, she saw a sea of 80,000 people. She felt like all of them were part of her own family. After her testimony, she sang a popular Christian hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, followed by Pastor Manoj Jacob (the host pastor), who warmly welcomed everyone to his church and the Prayer Breakfast.
Dr. Stephen Webb (Pastor of New Life Christian Center), who was the MC for the program, took time to share his own his testimony. He said, “All evidence said I couldn’t make it (to the Global Peace Rally.) Faith saw it differently.” He was able to rearrange his schedule in order to make the trip. During the peace talks, he learned that the I.R.P.C. represents all faith traditions; and that peace means different things in different cultures. He was astounded by the heavy weights he heard speak – Bishop Noel Jones, the Honorable Suzan Johnson Cook, and Hezekiah Walker. Then, he thanked God for Mother Moon. He remarked, “It is one thing to organize a rally for 80,000 people, but it is another to galvanize the people into one accord…. Thank you Mother Moon for galvanizing us.” Dr. Webb then paused his testimony to introduce the New Jerusalem Choir, who sang “Every Praise”, accompanied by praise dancers. After that, he continued with part II of his testimony. He shared that he thought there would be five to ten thousand people there, according to preacher’s calculations. He explained that when a preacher says there will be 6000, only 80 people actually show up. “However, there actually were 80,000 people who showed up at the rally, talking about peace. You can’t tell me that it doesn’t affect the world. Mother Moon gave a message of peace to galvanize 80,000 people.”
Rev. Grodner, (National ACLC Executive Director) gave the closing remarks. He commented that God gave the Edwards many gifts but also took them back. Nevertheless, they remained steadfast. Then, he reminded everyone that the path of restoration is about dealing with issues. Even after holding the feet of Jesus we are given the opportunity to go through the process of restoration. We have to be not only heavenly bound but earthly bound too. We have to face the daily challenges of life. The last project of Father Moon was to build IPEC (the International Peace Education Center) in Las Vegas. He wanted to make sin city into a heavenly city.
The mission of the American Clergy (ACLC) in Korea, is to visit Christian churches. Christians in Korea love and respect American Christian clergy. Rev. Grodner determined to visit Christian churches every day while he was in Korea. He visited many churches with Bishop Ki Hoon Kim. Rev. Grodner said he met one minister who said Rev. Moon was a heretic. Rev. Grodner, who is from a Jewish background, explained that 2,000 years ago, the Jewish people thought Jesus was a heretic. He further remarked, “Yesterday’s heretic is today’s messiah.
Rev. Grodner proclaimed that, in order for unification of the Korean peninsula to take place, American clergy are needed. The people in the North are looking for love. If they are embraced by the people in the South, change can come about. ACLC clergy can open the heart of the South Korean people. Rev. Grodner concluded by deeply thanking everyone for making the rally at Madison Square Garden, the shot that was heard around the world.
Submitted by: Rev. Kathaleen Sato / NJ ACLC