Nazaeth 1839, Haghe, Louis, 1806-1885
Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division LC-USZC4-3449
This Autumn the Lord has added another daughter to our family of congregations. Netzer HaGalil is located in Upper Nazareth, overlooking the historic Galilean city where Yeshua grew up. Its spiritual father is Leon Mazin, who also established our second congregation, Shavei Tsion, in Haifa in 2001. What follows is a recent interview with Leon about the new work.
What is the background of Nazareth Ilit ? Can you introduce us to the city ?
Natzrat Ilit was founded in 1956. Its name means Upper Nazareth. Nazareth (or netzer) is an offspring, a shoot. Zechariah and Isaiah used this term in describing the Messiah. "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch (netzer) shall grow out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1 (NKJV) Therefore, Yeshua is called Netzer, meaning an Offspring or Branch that will become a large tree for birds to find shelter. Central Nazareth is the "capital" of the Galilee, a city inhabited primarily by Israeli Arabs. It has a long history of traditional Christianity owing to Yeshua's long residence in the town. There are more than 50,000 citizens in Upper Nazareth, and 40% of them are Russian speakers.
How did you receive the vision to plant a congregation in Nazareth ?
In the summer of 2003 I suddenly felt that there should be a new congregation in the heart of the Galilee (in the triangle of Migdal Emek - Afula - Nazareth). At that time we had a few families in our Haifa congregation, Shavei Tsion, who lived there. We started to pray about it and even to have meetings, but it was not the right time. We stopped thinking about it for a while, and this idea was reborn in July 2004. We began to meet there and suddenly felt that we "were pregnant, and there was no way we would have an abortion." These were the exact words of one of the members of the new congregation. We also had a feeling that we should not meet in a private home, and thus we decided to open a new congregation. At the end of August we started looking for a meeting place. It is really hard to find something, because of the high rents, low incomes and also because of resistance to Yeshua. However, we have faith and therefore we continue to look for a place to meet. At the moment we meet in a home. We are about 25 adults and 12 children. Praise God, one person already came to Yeshua!
How do you relate to the fact that Yeshua lived most of His life in this area ?
This fact motivated me too. I knew that even though there are different Christian churches in the both parts of Nazareth, there is no Messianic Jewish congregation! Yeshua was a Jew, He lived in this place; and now, for almost 2000 years, there has been no Hebraic worship of Messiah at this key location. I feel a positive brotherhood toward Christian churches and am committed to partnership, but I also honestly believe that Jewish worship to God through Messiah Yeshua must be renewed in Israel.
What is your vision for this congregation ?
Generally, my vision is to continue developing the network of healthy congregations that began with Ohalei Rachamim (Tents of Mercy). We are building on a biblically Jewish theological basis, embracing the New Covenant fully and emphasizing the development of strong indigenous leadership. I do not put emphasis on the size of the congregation, because I believe that when the wave of revival will come to Israel, small healthy congregations will be able to grow and to feed and to take care of those who came into the light. When Shavei Tsion opened in late 2001, the congregation adopted the production of our Russian newspaper, Oazis (oasis in Russian), as a special expression of community life. This ministry is flourishing today. More than 10,000 people receive the paper in Russian with a Messianic message from Israel.
I feel that Netzer HaGalil in Nazareth should also be involved in a unique ministry that will give the congregation focus. We are aware of a great need for deliverance among those addicted to drugs and alchohol. I have no experience whatsoever in this ministry, but I believe that if the vision is from God, we will see something special happen. In addition, many of the members of the new congregation were addicted to drugs, but God had mercy on them. I believe that one day they will be able to serve others. Drugs are a murderous plague in Israel now, but Yeshua can help people and set them free. Let's pray for this vision to be fulfilled.
What fruit do you expect from the ministry in Upper Nazareth ?
I expect a healthy congregation with redemptive interpersonal relationships. There are many wounded people among believers, so I am expecting the healing of wounds. Isaiah wrote about Galilee of the Gentiles, that "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. (Isaiah 9:2, NKJV)" I want Netzer HaGalil to be a portion of that great Light that God promised to the Galilee. Nazareth is situated on the heights of the Galilee, on a mountain above the Megiddo valley, the place of the future end-time battle. There is now a light on the Nazareth Mountains to those who desire it. "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14, NKJV).
What challenges do you anticipate ? What happened when you tried to rent a building ?
We found a meeting place, and signed the agreement. However, after three days the agreement was canceled, because one of the owners is an observant Orthodox Jew, who influenced his partner against us. We could sue them, but felt that we should "turn the other cheek" in this situation. There were other possibilities, but unfortunately, the costs exceeded our budget. I believe that we will overcome these barriers through prayer, and soon have a meeting place for this hopeful new congregation.
In Nazareth what relationships do you expect with the born-again Israeli Arab believers ?
We have already begun contacting them. I am looking for close relationships and even for joint meetings. But first of all, we have to get planted and secure in our own meeting place with an organized schedule that spiritually strengthens the flock. I expect very good relationships. Probably, there are some differences in our theologies and understanding, but according to Isaiah 19:23-25, partnership between Arabs and Israel in Yeshua will bring blessing to our peoples and to the world. The current political situation and the bloodshed of these years have caused many tears, but the real healing must come from above. Our proximity as Messianic Jews and Christian Arabs in the Nazareth region can begin the process of "bringing heaven's reign to the earth."
|Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article:|