Israel is a Jewish State. With a heritage that goes back 4,000 years to the days of Abraham, Israel was recognized as an official State in 1948. The population of Israel consists of both Jews (6.3 million) and Arabs (1.7 million). The official religion is Judaism. Although with the rise of the messianic movement, there are an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 Jews who accept Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah-Savior. It’s a slim number among 6.3 million Jews, but it’s a number that is growing!
The presence of Messianic congregations in Israel is accepted by most. However, there are various sects of the Orthodox community who continually protest the present rise of Messianic believers within Israel. This is what makes the recent news about the rise of one messianic congregation so interesting.
Most Messianic congregations meet in either houses or rented space. I know I have taken groups to messianic services held at Christ’s Church inside the Old City of Jerusalem. This church permits this one Messianic congregation from Jerusalem to use their building for gatherings. But with the growth of the Grace and Truth congregation in the Tel Aviv / Ashdod area, for the very first time in post-Statehood history, a Messianic congregation has broken ground on building a church!
Located just east of Ashdod in a community called Kenot, a church building has now been completed. According to a recent Christianity Today article, the history of Grace and Truth church closely intertwines with the history of Israel. Founded in 1976 by pastor Baruch Maoz and a few families, Grace and Truth is one of the more veteran Israeli churches (it celebrates its fortieth anniversary in October). Yet despite opposition from the Orthodox (even taking it to th Israeli Supreme Court), a permit was granted and funds were in hand.
The present pastor, David Zadok, explained the reason in that went into the architectural principles behind the design of the building, “The first principle was that we wanted to have a building that portrays the light of Christ. If you go to the old churches in Jerusalem, many are very dark. But we said, ‘Christ has risen, and we want to show his light.’ Second, we wanted something halfway between a church and a synagogue. That’s why it has a dome. And it has arches in various parts of the building and outside, which is very Jewish, reminding us of the covenant God made with Noah. Third, we wanted a place that served their community, open for events and public use seven days a week.”
Again, according to the CT article, last year, Grace and Truth used the building to serve over 150 Holocaust survivors from the community in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. A Holocaust survivors group now wants to use the building regularly for their meetings.Today the congregation has about 350 members.
Please pray for the continual growth of this messianic congregation as well as others in Israel.
For the Grace and Truth Christian Church web site, click HERE.