Our Baby is Alive and Well! A Report on the Growth of B’ney Yosef North America
Parents know very well that the excitement of a child’s birth fades very quickly as reality of life with a newborn infant sets in. After the ordeal of labor and delivery, the rapid passage of news by phone calls and Facebook posts, and the welcome of a seemingly endless stream of family and friends, a rather dull routine sets in. Much to the frustration of older siblings, the baby does very little except sleep, eat, cry, and . . . well, you know. It will be quite some time before the child gains controls of its limbs, and still more time before it can sit up on its own and even begin to think about crawling. Only after that can the child progress toward walking, talking, feeding itself, and learning how to be polite in public.
A newborn organization goes through these same growth stages. Whether it is a company, a ministry, or a nation, the newborn still requires time and nurture before it can stand on its own.
Such is the case with our newborn, B’ney Yosef North America. BYNA is barely one month old, and although there is not much visible to the public, this child is healthy and growing just as it should.
The task consuming much of the attention of BYNA’s leadership is organizing this continental structure. Our two governing bodies, the Council of Elders and the Executive Council, are meeting regularly and taking on the kind of issues one might expect. As our spiritual oversight, the Elders are weighing BYNA’s identity, mission, and actions against the standards of Torah as taught by Moses, explained by the prophets and apostles, and lived by Messiah Yeshua. This includes prayerfully considering the correct response to criticism leveled at BYNA from various sources. Much of the criticism of such things as the Articles of Declaration, our leadership structure, and even BYNA’s existence, has come from well-meaning fellow Ephraimites who are expressing an understandable skepticism. Answering their concerns is a high priority, and our Elders are the ones charged with that responsibility. What they do now will set precedents and lay foundations on which BYNA will stand or fall, and for that reason they require time, space, and much prayer support.
The Executive Council is also laying foundations in the areas of organization and administration. The first major item of business is the expansion of the Council with the addition of Cindy Wyant as our Commerce Director. This expansion had been suggested before the BYNA Summit in St. Petersburg, but it was not possible to move forward with it until afterward. Cindy will oversee the efforts of BYNA at establishing chambers of commerce and other mechanisms by which our people can begin doing business with one another and build out national identity through economic activity.
Other major organizational undertakings include the incorporation of BYNA as a non-profit organization, development of bylaws, and establishment of financial and accounting standards. These are the building blocks of all responsible organizations, and they must be done right. Executive Secretary Akpene Torku, and Finance Director Blair Wetmore have taken the lead on these initiatives by virtue of their experience in non-profit administration and corporate accounting. Once in place, these organizational documents will open the way for our growth and development in service to our people.
Networking Through Prayer and Shabbat
There are some things we can do now even before the organizational documents are in place. One of those is the establishment of intercessory prayer networks, and that is the joyful labor undertaken by Prayer Directors Tommy and Dorothy Wilson. Before the Summit they had begun connecting with intercessors across the continent to cover the preparations for the gathering in prayer. That work continues as the Wilsons are beginning to identify seasoned intercessors willing and able to take on the task of coordinating prayer in their regions. This is, quite literally, taking on the task of praying for the Kingdom of God to come on earth as has been prophesied for so many ages.
Another initiative that began before the Summit is the B’ney Yosef National Shabbat. Communications Director Tzefanyah Pappas and his wife Reyyna began the National Shabbat observances in July 2015, and ever since then these gatherings have been instrumental in communicating the vision of B’ney Yosef. Since the Summit there have been National Shabbats observed in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, and Arizona, and others are now planned for Oregon and Tennessee. The National Shabbat website (http://nationalshabbat.com/) is a work in progress, but already it contains information to help those who would like to plan a gathering in their region. As the website is populated with more information on upcoming events, points of contact, testimonials, and more, we anticipate the National Shabbat movement will be one of the most important elements in bringing our people together and helping them awaken to their identity as Ephraimite Hebrews of B’ney Yosef.
What’s On the Horizon
The Communications team under Tzefanyah’s direction is taking steps not only to improve the National Shabbat website, but also to make the BYNA website (http://bneyyosefna.com/) more dynamic. A Web Content Committee is now in place to collect, review, and publish articles like this update which will be of interest to our people. In time we hope to have news items, Torah commentary, videos, photos, music, and other information posted to the site several times a week. In addition, we hope to begin publishing a newsletter to go out by email on a regular basis.
One of the news items about which we have received many inquiries is the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress. This gathering will take place just after Sukkot (Tabernacles), October 26-31 at the Eshel HaShomron Hotel in Ariel, Israel. Those who are familiar with this subject know that the First Congress in May 2015 resulted in the establishment of BYNA and in similar initiatives in Europe. With that in mind, it should be understood that the Second Congress is not a BYNA event. It is more accurate to say that BYNA is a North American expression of the global Ephraimite awakening that inspired the B’ney Yosef Congress.
This may shed light on why registration for the Second Congress has not been widely publicized as yet. The Congress is more than simply a gathering of Hebrews for worship, prayer, and teaching – although all of that will take place. It is a working gathering in which Ephraimites will meet with one another and with brethren from Judah to discuss issues related to the global regathering of our part of the Hebrew nation. Over half of the participants at the First Congress were from the United States, and most of the rest came from the nations of Europe. This over-representation from the West reflects the resources available to Ephraimites in North America and Europe, and the ease of travel to Israel from those continents. It may be impossible to achieve proportional representation from every part of the world, but it is possible to exercise responsibility by voluntarily limiting the number of Congress participants from North America. That is the intent behind an effort by Operations Director Pete Rambo to engage our brethren in Europe and discuss ways we can help in planning the Congress to ensure more Ephraimites from South Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia and New Zealand can participate. This process is only now beginning, so we ask both patience and prayers as we seek the right way to move forward.
Seeking the right path is the motivation behind Deputy Executive Director David Altman’s efforts to organize a BYNA National Day of Repentance. David and Elder Barry Phillips are taking the lead in this effort to identify the sins of the Ephraimite nation going back to the rebellion of King Jeroboam (I Kings 12). As stated many times in Scripture, beginning with Moses’ instructions to our ancestors in Deuteronomy 30:1-6, the restoration of our nation follows our return to YHVH and His ways. That requires national-level repentance, the kind that began with Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 9:1-19) not only for our Jewish brethren, but also for us. Judah continued that repentance process under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, and there is yet more to be done on their part. We of Ephraim must do the same, but first we must have some kind of duly constituted national authority to lead in this process. As yet we have none for Ephraimites around the world, but we do have the beginning of a continental leadership structure in North America, and that is where we must focus our efforts for now. This is not something to be done quickly or lightly; it is a process that will take time to accomplish properly and completely.
That sums up the work of BYNA’s leadership to date. Everything we are doing is a process, and none of it can be done quickly or easily. Everyone actively engaged in this work is a volunteer, giving freewill offerings of time, expertise, and other resources to see this nation grow and thrive. Eventually we will need a full-time staff, and for that we will require steady income through donations and other sources. As for donations, we are very close to having ability to receive them online. Look for that announcement soon. For that, and for all the other initiatives summarized here, we continue to ask for prayer. Indeed, none of this could have come about without consistent prayer support and the dedicated work of so many brethren over the last year.
Am Ephraim chai.
About the author. Albert J. McCarn is the Executive Director of B’ney Yosef North America.