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I read it through the Grapevine

Long time no hear!

There is a common saying in English: ’long time no see’. It usually refers to friends who have not seen each other for a while. It has been a while since many of you, our prayer partners and enthusiastic supporters, have heard news from the Grace & Truth congregation so I’d like to give you an update on what is going on at our church here in Israel.

People in general don’t like change. It is part of our nature to prefer that which is familiar and known over the unfamiliar and the unknown. Most of us find change a challenge at the best of times but while changes are necessary, stability is no less important. God in his wisdom gives us both. The 24 hour cycle – day and night, sunrise and sundown – is a great help to us. It enables us to plan ahead, knowing that days, weeks, months and years are something we can rely on. Despite this, we can’t tell what the next moment will bring. It is this combination of the certain and the uncertain that helps us to rely more and more on the Lord, while at the same time planning ahead.

 

This has been the story of the Grace & Truth congregation. We are grateful for the i read it through the grapevine fact that many of you continue to pray for the church and the ongoing building project. There have been many changes over the last few years, and yet it continues to stand tall. After the retirement of our founding pastor, Baruch Maoz, the church called a pastor from the USA who, at the end of last year, resigned for various reasons. Previous to this he had brought much unity and love to the congregation, especially during the time that we went through a painful church split; a sad situation which came about as the result of having to take an uncompromising stand for the truth.

 

However, despite these changes God continues to bless the congregation. On 5 May, we had yet another baptismal service. This time round, eight young people were baptized. All except a 24 year old were under the age of 17. Most of them are children of families in the church (see the March edition of the Herald). It is such an encouragement to see the second and third generation coming to faith in the Messiah of Israel. The words of John in his Third Epistle seem particularly appropriate: ‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.’

 

We have also seen more and more people taking an active part in the life of the church. Many of the younger generation are involved in worship and help with various aspects of church life. Our youth group is preparing for a mission trip to Kenya next summer and we continue with our evangelism, both through our full-time evangelist and through others in the church.

 

Furthermore, we are in the final stage of completing our community centre, the building we have been working on for many years. Too often people have suggested that we should just give up on the building work, as progress seemed to have stalled. Yet God, in his goodness, opened the gates a few months ago and things have started to move forward again. We have hired an experienced project manager, a Messianic Jew, who has provided a reliable estimate of the funds needed to complete the work. With that, and through the support of our dear friends from the Isaac da Costa foundation in Holland, the fundraising process has begun again. In March of this year, we restarted the work after receiving permission from the municipality to complete the building, which was a miracle in itself. The work is progressing as planned and the building is scheduled to be completed before the end of this year. We still lack some funds, but we are trusting that the Lord, in his timing, will provide.

 

Finally, the church, after much prayer, has decided to extend a call to me to be its next pastor. In the last 22 years I have had the privilege of serving there as an elder. Since 2006, when I began my ministry with CWI, the Society has generously enabled me to continue to serve the church as an elder. This has allowed us to have both a wide (through HaGefen Publishing), and deep and personal (through Grace & Truth) influence in Israel. After much prayer and consultation with the Amuta (the Israeli board of HaGefen), CWI Council members and many other friends, I accepted the call. The plan is to continue to serve in both capacities at this time. As always, your prayers and support are much valued and needed but now even more so.

 

This encouraging news of what God is doing in Israel is the fruit of your prayers and support for the work. Thank you once again for all that you enable us to accomplish by his grace.

This article was first published in the Autumn Herald 2012

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