By Michael Ireland, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (ANS, Jan.13, 2017) — You’ve probably heard about “See You At The Pole” – a nationwide youth event that draws many students who gather at the flag pole in schools across America to pray.
Now, Pastor Jack McKee of New Life City Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland is organizing ‘CU@ theCROSS’ — a call to Bible believers from all across America to gather at the cross, only on this occasion – he will be at the Alamo.
The event is designed to prophetically lift the cross above America’s divisions as a symbol of unity, and above Amerca’s internal hatreds as a symbol of peace, reconciliation and love.
Pastor McKee will be at the Alamo in San Antonio on Good Friday, April 14, when he will stand with the cross for a 3-Hour “Cross Vigil.”
McKee says this is not an attempt to organize ‘an event,’ but if anyone is able to join with him, he and others will stand in prayer as he prophetically lifts the cross above America.
“The success of this will not be based on the numbers that attend, but on the fact that the cross is lifted,” McKee told ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
Slated for Good Friday, April 14, from 12 noon to 3 pm, CU@ theCROSS will be open to everyone, including individuals and groups. McKee is inviting interested believers to “feel free to get along and stand with him at the cross.”
The last time Jack was at the Alamo was with the Cross in 2012 when he was threatened with arrest if he carried the cross onto the sidewalk of the Alamo. This was during an event called Cycle Cross America which he led from California to Florida and on to the White House in Washington, DC.
McKee now feels the time is right to return to the Alamo. He will once again be accompanied by Charlie Farrell from New Jersey, who will play the bagpipes in front of Jack as he walks with the cross to the Alamo, just as he did during Cycle Cross America. Charlie and Jack will walk through part of San Antonio, making their way to the Alamo for 12 noon where they will stand at the front of The Alamo until 3 pm.
“If you can make it, please feel free to stop by anytime during those three hours to give some support and encouragement,” McKee said. He will also be speaking in several churches in Texas and Missouri during that Easter Weekend and during the following 4 weeks.
McKee was brought up in the heart of war-torn Belfast. He has defeated death several times as terrorists on both sides of Northern Ireland’s conflict — known as ‘The Troubles’ — have tried to silence him. On one occasion the IRA (Irish Republican Army) attempted to place a bomb under his car, but they were disturbed and fled; on another occasion an IRA terrorist fired five shots at him from close range, but missed with each shot. On other occasions he was sentenced to death by Ulster Loyalist Terror groups for speaking out publicly condemning their acts of violence. In 2005 his home was attacked at 3.30 am while he and his wife were in bed; his car was also bombed at the same time. Yet he refuses to be silenced as he continues to touch the lives of Protestants and Catholics with the message of God’s love.
Although McKee was brought up in Belfast, he attended the Elim Bible College near London in England. He was ordained in 1982 when he returned to his home community and where he continues to this day. In 1989 he raised the funds to purchase an old cinema and converted it into a Youth and Community outreach center. In 1993 he pioneered New Life City Church, a church that today is often referred as ‘the church on the wall’ because it literally straddles the 20ft high Dividing Wall that separates Catholics and Protestants in Belfast.
New Life City Church is now in a converted warehouse situated on the Dividing Line between the Protestant Shankill Road and the Catholic Falls, with half of the building on one side of the wall and half on the other side. His church runs various programs and activities including Wholly Ground Coffee Shop; a Pre School Playgroup; an after school club for children with special needs; programs for disadvantaged youth; GLOW for women and moMENtum for men, and an indoor Sports Hall for soccer and other activities.
As a young Christian, one of McKee’s “heroes” was Arthur Blessitt. He first set eyes on Arthur Blessitt in 1971 as Arthur walked by him carrying a cross as he walked from the Protestant side to the Catholic side of the wall. It is in this same street that McKee now pastors New Life City Church. On June 18, 2011, exactly 40 years later, McKee was joined by Arthur Blessitt for an event called CU@ theCROSS, when he and Arthur Blessitt carried crosses side by side along the same street joined by hundreds of people from several other churches from across Belfast and beyond.
In 2002 McKee did a 40-Day ‘Cross Walk, when he carried a 7ft Cross through the warring streets of Belfast. In 2009, he did a Seven Week ‘Cross Vigil’ between one of the main “Dividing Gates” within the 20ft high Dividing Wall. He has spoken in churches, schools and universities in more than 30 States across America and in churches across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Germany and the Channel Islands.
In September and October 2012 Jack brought the same 7ft cross from Belfast to Los Angeles to Jacksonville, FL and then finally to Washington DC. He brought with him four cyclists, two from the Catholic side and two from the Protestant side of the Dividing Wall in Belfast, who cycled from Los Angeles to Jacksonville. McKee did several ‘Cross Walks’ in several cities across the US while being led by “Bag Piper” Charlie Farrell, an Irish-American singer/musician from New Jersey. Charlie dressed in a traditional Irish kilt and beret and played the bagpipes as he walked in front of Jack and the cross. The venture ended in Washington, DC when Jack walked with the Cross from the Washington Monument to the White House while being led by Charlie playing the bagpipes, and was joined by several people in the walk to White House as they were attracted by the cross and the bagpipes.
Jack has also written five books: ‘Through Terror and Adversity,’ ‘The Cross and the Gun,’ ‘Don’t Just Sit There,’ and ‘CU@ theCROSS.’ His latest book ‘What Does It Take?’ was released in December 2015.
The Belfast Telegraph, Northern Ireland’s most popular newspaper, in writing about McKee, said: “The Shankill Road, like many other working class areas of Northern Ireland, has more than its fair share of hard men. Many of them have paramilitary connections, where they can put their brutality to use with relatively little fear of retaliation unless they fall out among themselves or run foul of another terrorist gang.
“But there are other men in such areas who are far braver than any of the paramilitaries. They are not afraid to speak out against injustice and to champion the cause of the underdogs. They don’t have any army of thugs at their disposal to keep them safe like the terrorist godfathers. They don’t have any guns to shoot those who oppose them or who threaten them.
“One of those men is Pastor Jack McKee, a long time champion of the underdog on the Shankill Road. As pastor of the New Life City Church he tries to live the Christian message as best he can and to encourage others to do so as well. He has been targeted by terrorists of all persuasions for having the temerity to speak out against their actions. His car was petrol bombed, shots were fired at him and his home was attacked. Yet he has not been deterred from speaking out when the occasion demanded.”
Arthur Blessitt said of McKee: “Many people have heard of or seen the struggles and conflicts in Northern Ireland and wondered what could be done. One man, called of Jesus, accepted the challenge and the call. With total focus on Jesus, the Cross and people he has and is making a great impact in Belfast and on to the world. His book ‘What Does It Take?’ will rock your world. Warning ‘you too may become a radical follower of Jesus.’”
Photo Captions: 1) Pastor Jack McKee with Arthur Blessitt 2) Publicity poster for CU@ theCROSS . 3) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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