Life in Israel comes with its own set of challenges, such as: keeping our congregation safe when rockets from Gaza are raining down, even while we’re worshipping. When faced with the task to find a new gathering place for our Ashkelon congregation, we had to factor in certain requirements that might seem strange to some. Ashkelon is a city that is continuously targeted by rocket fire from Gaza which is factored into our decision-making process while choosing a church building to lease. We decided that it must include a bomb shelter that can house our whole congregation to ensure people are safe and protected when the air raid sirens go off.
Finding such a place is challenging in itself, and it is compounded by the fact that oftentimes Orthodox or secular Jews don’t want to lease to us when they find out we are Messianic. This adds an additional layer to the challenge. In Ashdod we have always faced resistance and setbacks when trying to find places to rent for our congregation or for ministry purposes. Throughout the years, we never have experienced a rabbi giving a “green light” to anyone or encouraging them to work with us.
Our Lead Pastor in Ashkelon is Eitan Manpel. He met and asked Joseph, a young Israeli realtor, to show us a building that was exactly what we needed for our congregation. Joseph had been born and raised Israeli and had never heard the Gospel, never met Christians, or even heard of Messianic Jews in his life. Needless to say, he was very intrigued when he met Pastor Eitan. He started asking questions, inquiring deeply about our faith. It reached a point when Eitan showed Joseph the scriptures and spoke openly about the Gospel to him.
Surprisingly, Joseph said he can’t proceed with the deal with us until he speaks to his rabbi from his local synagogue. This might seem odd, however, in Israel, it isn’t unusual to see a young, secular Jew who still asks his rabbi for council to receive their blessing. They firmly believe that without that blessing and confirmation, they will not see prosperity in their business or personal life.
Being well prepared for the rejection that would surely follow Joseph’s consulting his rabbi and due to our past experiences with rejection as well as persecution while trying to find places to lease, the usual response has been: “Well, you should continue looking.”
Can you imagine our shock when we received his phone call a few days later saying he spoke to his rabbi and he gave his “blessing” to work with us! God actually used a rabbi to show us we have HIS “green light” in Ashkelon. That no one will stand in His way of winning it for Christ.
We celebrate this tremendous breakthrough as we prepare to sign the lease. Would you consider donating and supporting our Ashkelon congregation as God continues to use our work in this city to bring the gospel to the nation of Israel and beyond?