Southeast Conference 2019: Moving Forward Together… By Ravi Goldberg
The Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) has been sponsoring the Southeast Regional Conference on Messianic Judaism since 1985. I’ve been coming for the past 10 years. On december 20th to December 22nd, this conference had everything that I’ve enjoyed over the years and left me with excitement for what God is going to do in this new decade within the Messianic Movement and in this region.
As one decade ends and a new one starts, the conference signified that this is an intergenerational move of God, and we are all moving forward together. The speaker lineup for the classes and services showcased this. We heard from emerging leaders like Joey Stepakoff & John Hartin and learned from veteran rabbis like Eric Tokajer, David Levine, Eric Carlson, etc. We were challenged to pursue firsthand encounters with the God of Israel because this is what transforms our lives and catalyzes unity.
Comprised of emerging worship leaders and musicians from across the South, the house band brought a new dynamic to the whole weekend. They led us in new songs and new expressions of old favorites. During the evening services, we got to enjoy new favorites from Israeli musical artists Joshua Aaron and Sarah Liberman. At the Shabbat morning service, we all came together to praise God with ancient Jewish prayers that have stood the test of time. This service had one of my favorite moments- when a teen stunned me at how well he chanted verses from the Torah portion with trope. It was a far cry from how I sounded at my Bar Mitzvah!
Yet the weekend wasn’t just about tradition. One of the Bridge events (for those in their late twenties and thirties), a devotional/ acoustic worship time, became a space for all of us to hear the Ruach and supernaturally encourage each other. During this time, I sensed God giving me a mental picture that brought me to tears.
I also left the conference with practical insight and tools. At another Bridge event, Petra Washington Scott gave Biblical, concrete wisdom on how to handle a host of issues we can face in ministry, in relationships, and in the complicated situations of life.
The YMJA programs (for teens and young adults) didn’t back away from engaging the realities of life either. Beyond the fun events that packed the weekend, there were interactive classes with rabbis, round tables, and teachings from other young adults- all focused on helping us experiencing victory over hardship, the battle in our minds, and sin.
I was encouraged that even in the children’s program it wasn’t about keeping the kids placated, passing the time with entertainment. The leaders aimed at creating a fun atmosphere where each child could worship the Lord and learn to know His presence.
Decades ago, Rabbi Martin Chernoff had a vision of fire coming up from Florida to the rest of the nation. This inter-generational conference gave me renewed belief and excitement to see this happen in this new decade.
Save the date for MJAA’s Southeast ’20 convention. It’ll take place once more in Orlando, FL, December 18th – 20th, 2020.
Ravi Goldberg serves as YMJA President.
He has been brought up in the Messianic movement and has served many years ministering to youth and young adults.