Israel 2016: Family In Twelve Languages – The Conclusion of the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress
In some ways the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress was actually the Second First B’ney Yosef National Congress. This emerging people of the House of Joseph (Yosef) is still a long way from transacting business as one would expect from cohesive people groups such as the Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Lakota, Navajo, or Ibo. We still have much to discover about ourselves and much historical division to overcome before we can speak with a unified voice. Nevertheless, the seeds have been sown, both in the First Congress and in this Second Congress. The fruit is not yet ready, but it is becoming recognizable as fruit, and that in itself is a major step forward.
My earlier report on the first half of the Congress (see Picking Up Where We Left Off: A Report on the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress) covered most of the formal business on the schedule. When we arrived at Shabbat on the evening of Friday, October 28, we had already heard from visionaries and scholars such as Iris Bouwman, Ron Campbell, and Ephraim Frank. They focused us on:
- Our identity as the returning children of Yosef/Ephraim
- Our hope in restoration by YHVH and reunification with our brethren of Judah
- Our responsibilities in moving with the Almighty as He directs and empowers this process.
What happened over the next two days did not bring anything new or different, but instead imparted greater depth to what we had already heard and shared.
The formal meetings on Shabbat did not commence until late in the afternoon. As with any such gathering, the real business took place not in the formal presentations, but in the quiet conversations among two or three huddled in the common room, or sitting at table for a meal. It seemed that these informal meetings took on a heightened importance during and after Shabbat. After breakfast, many delegates gathered to read the Torah portion Beresheet (In the Beginning), another simple activity which enhanced the bonding already taking place among these diverse Ephraimites from so many different places and cultures. Others who did not participate in the Torah reading continued in quiet relationship-building conversation, or in private prayer and Bible study. All partook of considerable rest during the day, the feature of Shabbat which has become precious to us all.
A remarkable thing happened seventeen months ago, when the First B’ney Yosef National Congress convened in Ariel, Israel. At that time a people who had not existed as a people for over 2,700 years came back from the ash heap of history. The people of the House of Joseph (Yosef) – Ephraim, those “Lost Tribes” of Israel’s northern kingdom – assembled in Samaria, the territory of their ancient ancestors, and acknowledged their belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to accomplish His Word to bring their people back as a nation and join them with the Jewish part of Israel (the House of Judah) in fulfillment of His covenant.
It was a modest beginning; only a little over 130 people attended, representing 12 countries. We made no bold declarations, but humbly whispered to one another and to the world that we were ready to answer the Father’s call and walk out the return of the Prodigal. Humble indeed, but astounding nevertheless. Certainly no less astounding than the reestablishment of the State of Israel in 1948 after 1,900 years of dissolution.
The momentum of that First Congress has carried into the Second B’ney Yosef Congress, which is now in its third day. The Congress convened on the evening of October 26, 2016, and will continue until Monday, October 31. The venue once again is the Eshel Hashomron Hotel in Ariel. The numbers of delegates are about the same, but this time there are some significant differences.
For one thing, the number of nations has grown to 15. Not surprisingly, the United States has the largest number of delegates, comprising about half of the total. What is surprising is that the second largest contingent is from one of the world’s smallest countries: the Netherlands. Over 20 Dutch Ephraimites are here, imparting a beautiful Dutch accent to all the proceedings. Also represented are Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Fiji, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Peru, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland. A central feature of the Congress has been reports from each of these countries, as well as video and proxy reports from Finland, Pakistan, Uganda, and India.
These reports build a mosaic of the Hebrew Awakening happening across the globe. In Pakistan, for example, Pastor Qaiser Ilyas shared by video his work in building Hebrew language and Torah teaching programs in Urdu for children and adults. Valerie Bulkunu, representing the Aboriginal people of Australia, shared the revival that is beginning among the youth of her people, and the awakening among Aboriginals to their Hebrew roots and Israelite identity. A similar phenomenon is happening among the Mizo people of northeast India, as Margot Crossing related in her report about the descendants of exiled Israelites who migrated across the Silk Road into South Asia. These developments are happening simultaneously with the better-known Torah awakenings in Europe and North America, and in time will have an even more significant impact as tens of millions of Ephraimites come into the understanding of their covenant identity.