The tapping on the glass is
what woke me, but it was the flashlight shining in my eyes that really
brought me back to a place of consciousness. It was two o'clock in
the morning and the police officer who had spotted my car sitting alone in
the church parking lot wanted to know what I was doing there. Perhaps she
suspected that I was homeless and that I was living in my car. I explained
that I periodically came down to the empty church lot at night to pray and
that it was not unusual for me to doze off while doing so. After receiving
my explanation and checking my license and registration she was satisfied,
bade me good night and drove off. I returned home to sleep in my bed. So
the question is, "Why is Moshe talking about sleeping in a car 20 years
ago in Baltimore when this article was supposed to be about the new
facility that Congregation Shavei Tzion has purchased in downtown Haifa?"
There is a major connection between the two circumstances that illustrates
the principle expressed in the book of Proverbs: "The mind of a man
plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9);
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own
understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your
paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Thirty one years ago my wife Katya and I founded Rosh Pina Messianic
Synagogue in Baltimore. I led that congregation for the next 13 years
until we moved to Israel. We barely knew what we were doing, yet God
honored our efforts. The congregation prospered and continued to grow.
We met in our apartment for the first 3 months then rented a church social
hall for the next 9 years. Our hosts could not have been nicer to us.
However, it was obvious we needed a place of our own. We prayed that God
would provide us with a facility for years. I had my eye on every
possibility that came along - from vacant furniture stores to old church
Then I found an old Methodist church. It was magnificent, made of stone
yet very simple with a tower. (I began planning how my office would be
built in the tower.) It was about a 10 minute drive from the main Jewish
community in a beautiful country setting in an area of wealthy homeowners.
The congregation was diminishing, only about 14 members, almost all
ladies over 70 years old remained. Surely they would sell. The Methodist
district superintendant thought it was a great idea.
Many evenings I would drive there and sit in the parking lot and pray for
the building. Sometimes when Eitan came to visit we'd go and pray
together for the building. But it was not to be. The members absolutely
refused to sell, but God knew what was best. The building was beautiful
inside but had only one toilet washroom in a closet. There were no
classrooms. The basement was not even fully dug out. Yet I was so
enamored with the place that I was willing to overlook all the potential
problems and the immense amount of work and money it would take to prepare
Instead, the Lord took those prayers and redirected them. In perfect
timing and understanding beyond our thoughts, He presented us with just
the right place. The building was also an old Methodist church, but in the
heart of the suburban Jewish sprawl, one mile from the Jewish community
center. It had a fully refurbished kitchen and social hall and a new
education wing. Like the other church, their members were old and few.
In the years leading up to our purchase they had watched the suburbs
swallow up the farmland and they planned for the many new young families
that would want a church. One old farmer who had been going to that church
since childhood told me that it never occurred to any of them that all the
young families moving into the area would be Jewish. They were ready to
sell. Rosh Pina congregation has been in that building now for over 20
years; the choice of God who knows what's best for His children.
The First Choice ...
"To the Angel of the messianic community in Philadelphia, write:
'Here is the message of the holy one, the true one, the one who has
the key of David, who, if He opens something no one else can shut it, and
if He closes something, no one else can open it'" (Revelation
We would be naïve to think that we're smart enough or clever
enough to chart our path through this world, through this life without the
ongoing guidance that comes from heaven. In life it is inevitable that
there will be dangerous icebergs in our way as one might encounter in the
extreme northern and southern hemispheres. An iceberg is treacherous
because only about 10% of it can be seen above the surface of the water.
The remaining 90% is submerged. This is why we so desperately need Yeshua.
He can see what is hidden to us. And because He carries the key of David,
He locks doors that are not expedient for us to enter and instead unlocks
doors that will bless His people and further the kingdom of God.
Regular readers of this periodical are well acquainted with Leon Mazin,
one of our original elders from when Tents of Mercy was founded back in
1996. He is from the former Soviet Union, married to Nina and they have
five children ranging in ages from 5 to 18.
In 2001, with the blessing of the leadership of the congregation, Leon
took a handful of people from Tents of Mercy and brought them together
with another small group of people in Haifa and began Congregation Shavei
Tzion (Those Who Have Returned to Zion) which has grown dramatically. For
the past six years they have been meeting in a wonderful building in
downtown Haifa - five stories high with space on the roof. It really
seemed to be the ideal building for them. Plus, the owner wanted to sell
at an ever decreasing cost. Just around the time they had enough money for
the purchase, problems began appearing that prevented the sale from going
When these sorts of things happen, it's very easy to give into
frustration and disappointment. But again our knowledge is limited
because we can't see the future or even things below the surface in
the present. Perhaps the past has been satisfactory, the tools with which
we had to work did a good job and we see no need for something else.
It's not hard to become fixated on what we think should be,
especially if it is something good for the kingdom of God. But that is a
good time to remember that He who locked the one door, has keys to other
doors that He will open instead.
Leon Mazin and a friend exiting the newly purchased facility
As it turned out, there were a number of problems connected with illegal
additions and improvements to the building that would have come back to
haunt Leon and the team had the purchase gone through. He who holds the
key of David showed up and the door they thought was open was tightly shut
and no man could open it. God's superior knowledge protected them
from a serious mistake.
And now Shavei Tzion has at last purchased a building for their
congregation. It is four times bigger than the one they are currently
renting. There is lots of space for a large sanctuary, a cafeteria,
classrooms for a music school and Bible school and a dormitory/hostel for
volunteers who come to help. The building is closer to a larger number of
people from the congregation and there is even parking for visitors. Leon
is grateful to God (and we are also) that He again proved Himself faithful
in protecting them from making a mistake with the first building. Instead
He has given Shavei Tzion a better tool with which to serve the Lord.