MOAZNEWS - BLESSINGS GALORE
For the life of us, as the saying goes, for the life of us, we cannot understand why God is blessing us as he is, but his blessings abound. Of course, the real reason is grace: pure, unmixed, undeserved and unexpected grace. Of course, God is he who answers prayer and to whom all mankind will come (Psa. 65:2), and there are tens of thousands of people praying for us all over the world. Still, we are repeatedly surprised afresh by the munificence of God's kindness to us.
Two Sabbaths ago we held a baptism. Six were baptised, four from our young adults group, one from the youth group and one adult. Just a few months back Elana had been a sad, depressed, aimless young lady who had grown up in a Christian home in which there was no family prayer, no spiritual encouragement and little emotional support. Now the family has been transformed, Elana has a bright smile on her face, members of the family meet frequently for prayer and Bible reading, another member of the family has begun coming to church and Elana herself sought baptism.
Ayala had undergone immense personal struggles as she contemplated the claims of Christ on her life. The temptations were very real. She had stopped coming to church, broke off contact with her Christian peers in the church and caused her parents immense concern. About a half a year ago they had visited Baruch and Bracha's home to share their concern and express their disappointment: why did the church not do something. What? Anything! Something! I don't know what! We had then assured Ayala's parents that the church was doing all that God enabled us to do, and that we would continue to pray. Then Ayala surprised her parents by relating the work of God in her heart, leading her to make the right choices. She returned to church and, some months later, sought baptism.
Veronica grew up in a very troubled home and the scars of poor familial examples, of distorted family life and of disorientation were evident in her. She struggled hard, often crying out to God. He had heard her pleas, and those raised to him by many members of the church. Veronica's father says that he simply cannot recognise his own daughter: She has changed beyond his wildest dreams.
Avner also grew up in a Christian family. Somewhat retiring until he feels comfortable, solid - almost staid - with a wry sense of humour and high moral standards, he never hesitates to challenge, however clumsily. But he has always indicated a sincere spiritual interest. Then the Spirit transformed Avner's interest into a life issue, and Avner found himself submitting to the sovereignty of divine grace. Typically, he waited a few months because he wanted to be sure whatever happened to him would not blow over. It didn't, so Avner asked to be baptised.
Nirel's father was an alcoholic whom the Lord saved a few short years before he and the family immigrated to Israel. They had transferred from one church to another in search of a community where they could settle. Finally, they joined Grace and Truth and have become faithful, active and useful members of the church, with various members of the family fulfilling various roles. Nirel has just enlisted for his mandatory military service. Before that, he was active in our evangelistic labours and a very faithful member of the young adults group. He could never tell us when or how he was converted. This took place somewhere in his young but forgotten past. But there was no room for doubt - as much as anyone can be free of doubt - that he was a Christian, trusting in God's grace and seeking his will and glory. He too sought baptism.
Limor is an adult in her mid thirties, a single parent with a troubled young adult. She was met in the park by one of the congregational evangelists, heard the Gospel and began attending church. God then opened her heart, she was converted and sought baptism.
Now all six were being baptised. We met in a Christian conference centre, where a baptistery was available and where we could then meet for worship and the Lord's Supper. Most of the burgeoning congregation was there. Worship was led by one of the young adults, Simon, himself the child of one of the church officers. (Leading worship is done by rota. A number of the men are asked to join the rota and are then guided and coached by an Elder) The young adults also prepared a song which they sang to God's glory and another of the young adults led in the closing prayer.
We commenced with a short exposition relative to the event, then prayer, and then each of the baptizees was invited to enter the baptistery and give a short testimony. They were then baptised, one by one. Many tears of joy were shed that day.
We then removed to the meeting place to worship in song, prayer, communion and the hearing of the word of God. The newly baptised were first exhorted and then invited to stand before the congregation as the Elders laid hands on them and prayed. This was followed by worship in song and prayer, and by a short exposition concerning communion, the table was fenced and then the newly baptised stood before the congregation and took their first communion. Following them, the whole congregation partook.
After communion, the regular sermon was preached, prayer was offered and the opportunity for questions given. We closed with the benediction.
The Following Sabbath
Sharon approached the Elders - he wanted to be baptised. We interviewed him, as we interview all who seek baptism, seeking some indication of spiritual life, of conversion and of faith, Sharon had all the right answers, but there did not seem to be very much life to what he said. Apparently, he had been coached and knew exactly what to say. But he could not speak of a living faith, or the assurance of forgiveness, not even of a concept of sin. So we preached the Gospel to him, assured him we were delighted he was in the church and exhorted him to continue to give heed to the preaching of the word of God and to seek God until he is found of him. True, some people are more reserved than others, but we had rather err by delaying someone's baptism than by damning him with a false confidence because we agreed to baptise him when we saw cause for doubt. Sharon accepted this well and we closed in prayer, asking God to continue his work in Sharon's life.
Naor and his wife were next in line to speak with the Elders. They wanted to become members of the church. Had they read the Constitution? Of course! Was there anything in it with which they were uncomfortable or on which they required further explanation? No. Did they understand that full agreement was not required for membership, only an undertaking to live in accordance with our stated beliefs and patterns? Yes, they understood. But they were in hearty agreement with the constitution.
Very good. In that case we will inform the church or your request for membership. In three weeks' time, if no one has shown any valid reason why you should not be accepted into membership, you will be accepted. It is important that you understand that we need you. We need you to enlist your time, energies, talents and resources to the service of the church as God would lead you. We need people to open their homes and offer hospitality. We need families who will adopt single parent families. We need people to help us evangelise, visit the sick and the elderly and themselves grow in spiritual and biblical knowledge so they can assume responsibilities in the church.
Yes, they understood all this and were eager to take up their part of the work of the church. We closed in prayer.
Yes, God is blessing, and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts. We seek his grace to handle his blessings in a way that will glorify him.
The Building Project
A team of German youngsters (aged 63-71) have arrived and will be completing the internal plumbing. Generous financial assistance given by Hilfe fuer Brueder has covered the costs of tools and materials. We are amazed with the eagerness, skill and hard work these young people invest in the work!
We are now in search of a team of electricians who would be willing to come and wire the building. It has not been possible for us to protect the building from the ravishes of the encroaching winter. Our hope is that we will not have too much rain in the area, so that gains achieved will not be lost.
One of Israel's major electrical engineering companies had undertaken to wire the building for electricity (high and low voltage). It received the customary down payment and commenced to work. Then the company collapsed. Happily, we had insured the guarantee and so were to be accorded the amount of our initial down payment, minus whatever work the company had done.
In order to determine the amount of work actually executed, a survey of the site was conducted. Wherever wiring was to be seen, the insurer marked that as work completed. We then received a return from the insurance company after confirming with our signatures that, upon receipt of the stated sum, all the insurers' commitments to us had been satisfactorily met.
Some months later, we asked another engineering company to make an offer for the remaining part of the work. In preparation for submitting such an offer, the company visited our site and reviewed the work done. Imagine their amazement (and ours) when it discovered that a good number of the lines had not, in fact, been wired. Six to ten feet of wire had been inserted into both ends, and left at that!
The economic situation in Israel is dragging work ethics and morality down to the sewer. Please pray for those who resort to such dastardly means to cover their losses - and whose losses will be greater in more than financial terms when the Day comes. Pray, too, for us, who have lost a goodly sum of money to an unconscientious wheeler and dealer.
MaozNews A periodic report from Israel.
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