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I Read It Through the Grapevine

On Saturday 12 January I attended a historic event in Israel at which David Zadok was installed as the third pastor of the Grace and Truth congregation.

Three hundred people, including pastors from Israel and overseas, gathered for the first meeting in their congregational home, one the first indigenous Messianic Jewish buildings to be constructed in Israel for more than 1,900 years.

Grace and Truth was established in 1976, and in the almost 40-year history of the congregation there has been both blessing and turbulence. David joined the fellowship in the 1980s and was appointed an elder in 1990. The eighties were a difficult time for Grace and Truth. Propaganda campaigns were waged against the congregation and against their pastor. Noisy demonstrations were organised and one Sabbath morning the congregational meeting was invaded by religious zealots who proceeded to smash furniture and destroy hymn books and Bibles. Although the local police station was a stone’s throw from where the congregation met, it took the police an hour to respond to the congregation’s call. In 1989, the congregation was locked out of the premises it was renting and for several months they had to meet in woods outside Rehovot.

In the 1990s, following the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union, many Jews began to make aliyah and the congregation commenced an intensive outreach to the new arrivals. Many Russians came to faith and in a short period the congregation grew dramatically from 50 to about 350. It soon became apparent that the congregation needed its own building and a site was purchased in Gedera in spite of intense opposition from the ultra-Orthodox.

Following an initial donation of $800,000, work on the building commenced but eventually came to a standstill for several years because of lack of funds. It was feared by some that the Grace and Truth congregational home was destined to become a huge white elephant but the Isaac da Costa Foundation in Holland

rescued the project and it is anticipated that the building will officially open in April.

The building is beautiful and looks authentically Middle Eastern, somewhere between a church building and a synagogue. Light, symbolising the light of Messiah, floods into the building through the many small windows (large windows would have invited vandalism from the ultra-Orthodox) and the huge skylight dome. The intention is that when the building officially opens, it will be available seven days a week for use by Messianic groups and possibly a Christian school, as well as for seminars, weddings and summer camps.

When the congregation’s second pastor returned to America last year, David was asked to consider taking on the role of congregational leader. As David prayerfully considered the invitation, Isaiah 6 spoke to him: ‘I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me”.’ When the matter was brought to the church David was voted in as pastor.

As well as being an excellent Field Leader, David is a very able preacher and has a true pastor’s heart. I have no doubt that under his teaching and leadership, the church will prosper. Grace and Truth has always been at the forefront of Messianic activity in Israel. A number of second and third generation believers are now in membership and the congregation is no longer predominantly Russian. The fellowship has a ministry to the deaf, providing signing during the services. Some 25 Ethiopians and a number of Arabs also attend and David’s vision for the future is to turn believers into disciples and to train younger believers to serve their generation.

Since construction began, the location of Grace and Truth has become strategic since two major highways running from north to south and east to west now intersect close to the building, making it far more accessible than was originally envisaged. The building is almost completed but there are hefty loans to be repaid. If you would like to assist them in making history by helping them repay the loans on the building, donations large or small can be sent through CWI Head Office. Please mark gifts GRACE & TRUTH BUILDING FUND.

This article first appeared in the Spring Herald 2013

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