"Who is my neighbor?" the religious man asked Yeshua. The haunting answer to this question still pricks our conscience down through the centuries. Our neighbor is the one in need of our mercy and attention. Yeshua's command, "Go and do likewise" challenges us not to pass by those we see bleeding and wounded on the road of life.
When Leon Mazin planted a congregation in Nazareth he set up a soup kitchen because all around him were wounded souls needing a warm meal. Many of their wounds were inflicted by drug and alcohol abuse. A man like Leon cannot simply cross the road and avert his eyes. Something had to be done.
FORGING OF A CHAMPION
Volodya grew up in a tough working class neighborhood. He figured a life of crime was his ticket out. So Volodya sought to do unto others before they did it to him. Three prison sentences later he called out to God to save him. It was in a Ukrainian prison where Volodya found true freedom but upon his release he drifted back into a criminal lifestyle. This time crime seemed "to pay." Volodya soon acquired the money, status and prestige that he always dreamed of. Funny thing about finally "making it," Volodya found out that the so called top of the heap is an empty place. Crushed to despair, he started using drugs to escape the pain he thought success would alleviate.
There is no real solace in bottle, pill or powder. Eventually everyone who goes down that road pays the price. Volodya lost his business, his money and his family. He even tried to commit suicide but was miraculously spared. The freedom he had once discovered in prison was his only way out. Again, Volodya called upon the name of the Lord and was saved.
STEPS OF A GOOD MAN
In 1995, Volodya immigrated to Israel and found the recovery help he needed at Carmel Congregation's House of Victory. There he met a young evangelist who was teaching the Bible to the Russian speaking residents - Leon Mazin.
During the next ten years, Leon, Eitan and others in the Tents of Mercy network prayed to see a place of healing for those wounded by drugs and alcohol. Leon asked God to send a man who could head up this new venture. Volodya was praying too: "After praying and fasting God gave me a vision of a place and a ministry that I would lead to help others
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has created us for a life of good works that He has already prepared in advance for us to accomplish. It was no chance meeting that put Volodya and Leon together in the spring of 2006. They shared each other's heart and started to pray together. Leon was looking for a man to head up this ministry; Volodya was looking for an opportunity to serve men who lived like he once did. The partners were joined but where was a site for the ministry to take place? The One who "prepares works in advance for us" prepares well. In yet another answer to prayer, Leon and Volodya connected with a believing couple who farmed a large rural property. In exchange for some needed manpower the farm would welcome men wanting a new start.
Leon enlisted a dedicated group of Swiss volunteers to get the old farm bunk houses into shape. But even as the new dry wall was going up the first residents came on site. Sometimes mercy cannot wait for paint to dry. In six short weeks six men have come to make this farm their home. They call themselves "The Way and Life Community." Four of the men came through Netzer HaGalil's kitchen ministry and two others from an outreach in Netanya. Here are a couple of their stories:
Since he was only fourteen Alex has been in and out of jail five times. He has tried to quit drugs many times, but without success. Before coming to the farm, Alex was ready to either kill himself or change direction completely. By God's grace Alex chose life and came to The Way and Life Community. He knew the pain of withdrawal and was braced for the worst. Volodya told him, "You won't go through withdrawal." Alex waited four days, expecting the pain to start but it never did.
Volodya explained that during a terrible withdrawal years ago, believers laid hands on him in prayer and the pain immediately ceased. "I know this is God's will. He wants to set these men free. So I put my hands on Alex and God took the withdrawal away. We believe in God and we are seeing miracles. "Alex tells me his way of thinking is beginning to change. He is finding freedom and has regained his desire to live.
From the moment he arrived in Israel Igor struggled. He couldn't settle down but moved from town to town. His alcoholism became more and more severe and eventually he ended up on the streets of Nazareth - homeless in Yeshua's hometown. "When I heard about this place I was desperate to come," Igor recounted. "About three weeks ago I was alone in my room, thinking about God. I started to pray and I started to cry. I prayed to leave all the bad behind." After thirty rare minutes of repenting for past sins Igor found salvation in Yeshua. "I have learned that even in the hardest experiences of life there are answers. Before I thought there was no solution but now I have hope."
Before his addiction Igor used to write poetry. He is writing again. Here's a sample:
"I believe in my future - in this, I know my way.
In my prayers I see success - all my life to live for others.
I believe in all your ways for me to walk;
I come and give my heart to you.
Because you love me so much, you put a seal on my life.
There are many roads but I will walk with you to the end.
In you, I have seen the Father."
The Way and Life Community is just starting. Believers and leaders from our Haifa, Nazareth and Kiryat Yam congregations are all helping to bring the Word of God to these men and see The Way and Life Community succeed. God is at work here and lives are changing but like all births there are difficulties to overcome. I expect the man from Samaria had business to attend to in Jericho but he responded to mercy's plea to bind up wounds. The Good Samaritan went out of his way to take the nearly dead merchant to the inn. Showing mercy means action. Leon did not have a program or facilities all revved up and ready to go. But here too, mercy required a practical and tangible response.
|Leon bringing the Word to hungry hearts|
Please pray for Leon, Velodia, Alex, Igor and the other men of The Way and Life Community---that God would meet all their needs and fulfill all His plans and purposes. The community needs financial assistance and the men have deep emotional, social and spiritual needs. Leon and Volodya have heard God's call to show mercy. Perhaps the Lord is calling you to "go and do likewise."
If you would like to support this ministry, donations should be made out to Tikkun International with "The Way and Life Community" on the memo line.
|Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.|
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Dan Juster: A Historic Event|
|Eitan Shishkoff: Gentile Kings & Jewish Prophets|
|Asher Intrater: Strategic Giving And Apostolic Ministry|
|David Shishkoff: Fall 2006 Discipleship Report|