Developments And Changes In Israel
We are fast approaching the moment when the House of Grace and Truth can be dedicated. In order to facilitate the occupation and use of the House of Grace and Truth, the church here has decided to commence use of the building before air-conditioning and other important aspects of comfort and efficiency are installed. In October we calculated that, provided we are supplied with the wood needed for carpentry and have the resources to set up a carpentry shop, we were short by some $500,000 to bring the project to completion. Then God began to work on our behalf again.
One generous benefactor, Mr. Moermond from the Netherlands, promised us the equivalent of $55,000 in January and then we were surprised to be gifted with yet another $200,000 from an anonymous donor who had already contributed $1,000,000. In 2005 we were greatly helped by Patmos International, who contributed $100,000 and thereby enabled us to employ a staff of builders from the church. We hope to be able to engage them this year as well, and if the resources come in to that end, they will reduce the amount still needed to about $150,000. The gap in our resources is becoming increasingly attainable. We are well on our way to the finish line!
We give praise to God. Thanks are also due those who have stood with us in prayer and in generous sacrificial giving. A special thank you is due to our friends in the Netherlands, particularly to the Isaac da Costa Fund, which has stood by us through the long and difficult process, to our anonymous donor and to Patmos International.
The church has agreed on the call of a new Pastor, who is now considering our call. He is ideally suited in ways beyond our expectation and both his theology and philosophy of church life are so proximate to ours that we were astounded. Surely, the church argued, this was evidence of a divine call. In the course of the time he was with us he and his wife endeared themselves to many. We hope and pray he will accept the call and would ask you to pray with us that God would guide him and us to his good and acceptable will.
Coming to Israel will be a major sacrifice, fraught with many difficulties. Not many are willing to make such sacrifices. We are grateful to our brother and to his wife for their willingness to consider our call in spite of the sacrifices entailed. The church is in eager suspense over the matter.
On Tuesday, December 6th, we held our annual Members’ Meeting in which the budget for the coming year is discussed and approved. The draft budget is prepared by the Deacons, submitted for review and comment to the Elders and then presented to the church for approval. Discussions of next year’s budget are preceded by a financial report of the first eleven months of the present year. We were greatly encouraged by the report:
Until recently, collection boxes were placed in the church and congregants contributed when and how they saw fit. In the course of this year the Elders had decided, much to the chagrin of the Deacons, that the offering should be incorporated into the service with the intent of teaching the congregation that financial giving was as much an act of worship as anything else we might do as we gather. The congregants received the change with delight, with the result that giving has increased significantly even though the economic situation of most of the congregants has, at best, remained poor. In January – November 2005 the church met all of its budgeted financial goals, including a substantial sum invested in the building project.
The 2006 budget was thoroughly discussed at the meeting and some small additions were made by the congregation. The newly approved budget includes the beginnings of a savings account in readiness for paying our new Pastor’s salary when he arrives, as well as assisting in the costs of transferral. The church also has a single debt, over half of which has already been paid and the remainder is being slowly eliminated.
It is obvious to the congregation that we are presently unable to shoulder the full burden of the new Pastor’s salary. But the church is fully united in the desire to shoulder as much of that duty as possible. We have also begun seeking outside help in this important matter. Once we are able to shoulder our Pastor’s full salary, we shall work toward the elimination of outside support for each of the other staff members.
Over the years, the Elders and Deacons have invested a great deal of thought to educating the church toward financial responsibility. While we recognize that some of our congregational efforts extend well beyond the borders of our own congregation and are likely to need outside assistance for some time to come, our goal is to become fully self-supporting in all aspects of our congregation life. As our young people mature, complete their education and begin to engage in their respective professions, we expect to see significant strides in that direction. We are grateful to be allowed to see evidence of growing maturity in this important area even now, at such an early stage.
We’ve been asked to undertake spiritual responsibility for a group in a nearby town and are presently contemplating it. We’re already overstretched, but find it difficult to ignore the needs of this group. If we accept the responsibility, it will be a labour-intensive task for some time, as the group has been mishandled over a lengthy period. We’ll have to pray and consider this carefully.
Major changes are to take place in the very near future. CWI has published the following statement:
“After more than thirty years of service with Christian Witness to Israel, Baruch Maoz is to retire as Field Leader of the Society’s work in Israel. During his time with CWI, Baruch has made an outstanding contribution to the cause of the gospel in Israel.
“In the 1970s Baruch founded HaGefen Publishing, which has published over 150 books, tracts, sermons and leaflets. He is also a founder and the pastor of Grace and Truth Christian Congregation which now consists of some 450 adults and children.
“Baruch initiated and for ten years was a leader of the National Intercongregational Fellowship in Israel and was a founding member of the National Evangelistic Committee. He shared in the establishment of a Theological Education by Extension programme and was the initiator and one of the founders of the acclaimed theological journal Mishkan.
“When members of Israel’s parliament attempted to introduce legislation that would make Christian evangelism a criminal offence, Baruch set up and, for the first eighteen months, led the Messianic Action Committee, to defend freedom of religion in Israel. He also conceived and now chairs Keren Tkuma, the National Social Aid Fund, which helps to establish Jewish and Arab Christians economically.
“Baruch has written a book and a series of historical and theological papers on Jewish Christianity. He exercises a regular preaching ministry at the Grace and Truth congregation and at other congregations around the country, both Jewish and Arab.
“Christian Witness to Israel remains committed to maintaining and developing its ministry in Israel, and is working in consultation with local advisors towards the appointment of a successor to Baruch.”
General Secretary – Christian Witness to Israel
I thank CWI for its overly large bouquet of compliments and wish the Society God’s blessing as it seeks to serve the Lord and our people through the Gospel. CWI’s ministry in Israel will continue, of course, its offices remain open and all matters can be referred to Sasha Seriapov at the usual telephone and fax number – +972 3 966 1898. CWI has a wonderful history and, with God’s help and your goodwill, a still more wonderful future.
Although the decision that I am to retire was implemented suddenly, it was the result of many months of consultation with members of the CWI Council and with my full agreement. CWI is presently engaged in discussions which will, hopefully, lead to the appointment of a new CWI Israel Field Leader. I urge you to extend him the same generous fellowship in the Gospel that you to extended me over the years and am confident that you will find him at least as attentive to the needs and opportunities facing the church in Israel. I urge present supporters of CWI/HaGefen to continue their support. Contributors in the USA who have hitherto sent their contributions through ARBCA are encouraged to send their contributions directly to CWI Israel or to CWI in London (see addresses and bank details below). Contributions to my own ministry continue to be sent through ARBCA.
CWI’s gifted Governing Board in Israel will continue to function and may be contacted through the HaGefen/ CWI offices. Its members are, Mrs. Lisa Loden – Chair, Israel Director of the Caspari Institute; Dr. Erez Soref – Academic Dean, Israel College of the Bible; Pastor Meno Kalisher – Pastor of Beit Geula Congregation; Rev. Wayne Hilsden – Pastor of King of Kings Congregation; Mr. David Zadok – Elder at Grace and Truth Christian congregation and former Chair of the Governing Board. These are some of the finest, best known and most respected Christians in Israel. It has been a unique privilege to work under their direction and oversight. I thank them for their devotion to the Gospel, their candid scrutiny and the godly wisdom with which they guided my labours with CWI over the years.
Please note that the CWI/HaGefen Israel address has been changed to:
HaGefen Publishing, POBox 60, Rishon LeTsion 75100 ISRAEL,
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