One New Man - A letter from Israel

We had heard of a burgeoning Arabic-speaking congregation in nearby Ramleh, pastored by Najib Atyieh. Grace and Truth cherishes churches where the word of God is preached and we consciously labour to develop and maintain contact with Arab congregations. So we called Najib and asked to meet with him. Najib is a broad-shouldered Arab Christian who was converted thirteen years ago out of a background of heavy drug dealing and related crime. The transformation was immediate, as radical as any conversion could be. Since then he has steadily grown in Christ and is now a man of God
For many years, Najib was a faithful member of a local Arab congregation. When he expressed his desire to devote all of his time to evangelism, his church disassociated itself from him. They believed that he was gifted, capable and godly, but that it would be better for him to be employed in a secular occupation, and to devote his free time to evangelism.

Najib's heart was broken, but he was on fire for the gospel. He, his wife and two children have since lived on the intermittent freewill offerings of God's people, often having to manage without basic necessities. God has blessed his ministry and there is now a congregation of some twenty extended families meeting as a church. They have rented a small house which they use for worship and Najib travels three or four times a week from his home in Haifa in order to visit, minister, evangelise and preach.

When Sasha and I met Najib at the CWI offices in Rishon LeTsion, we were elated to hear how high a premium he attaches to the ministry of God's Word, and to learn of his visitation programme. The young congregation maintains clear doctrinal and moral standards, and Najib seems to have an excellent view of the pastoral ministry and of church life. Untaught, inexperienced, yet eager for God's Word, it seems as if the Lord has his hand on this dear brother.

Grace and Truth will cultivate close ties with this congregation and will work alongside them as much as possible. We are anxious to learn from them as we seek to serve the Lord together. We consider it extremely important for Arab and Jewish congregations to serve alongside each other and, as much as possible, for congregations to consist of a healthy mixture of Jews and Arabs. Please pray for our brother, for the church he leads and for wisdom and courage to work together. At the time of writing, the women of the two congregations have planned an evening of fellowship and Najib is scheduled to preach for us soon.

Within our own congregation, I am pleased to report that one of our young men shows promise as an evangelist. He has had an excellent opportunity to study the Scriptures and to be introduced in a thorough, dedicated manner to Reformed theology. The challenge before us now is to encourage him to improve his skills while not neglecting the cultivation of godliness, to promote him while not providing room for pride, and to use him just a very little bit beyond his present evident gift so that he grows, without imposing on him more than he can bear. We desire to cultivate the next generation, and the one that will follow. For this, we need great wisdom and no small measure of courage. May God grant us these according to his wisdom and grace.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2005 edition

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