Israel Team Report #3: From Jim Melnick

Dawn is breaking over the tranquil Sea of Galilee in Tiberias on a beautiful Sunday morning in Israel. One could hardly conceive of a better place in the world to pray and read God’s Word first thing in the morning, for indeed, this was the place that our Lord Himself chose!

As Doug shared in Israel Report #2, Dominic and I met up with Pastor Doug and Mary Jane last night. Today is graduation day in Haifa.

I arrived in Israel on Friday. On my flight over, going through Vienna, I ended up sitting between two Russians (go figure!) One was a Russian sailor whom I shared my testimony with and another was a Russian woman who is a believer who lives in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. Also on that flight was another American believer whom I once worked with at the Pentagon! We had a great reunion. He also is a Russian speaker. He is involved in Christian military fellowships in
Eastern Europe and was on his way to Bulgaria.

After arriving in Israel, I went to Tracy and Joy’s new place in East Jerusalem, which is located just a hundred yards or so from the Wall separating Israel proper from the Palestinian territories. I awoke at 4:30 AM to hear the blaring calls of the muezzins in the town of Ar Ram, located on the other side of the wall. I had good discussions with Tracy and Joy and then drove from their place to the city of Rishon LeTsion (which means “First in Zion”) to worship with David Zadok at Grace and Truth Congregation. The sermon, given by a visiting American pastor (we shared a mutual friend from the past in Brooklyn, who is now with the Lord), was translated into Russian and Hebrew. It was very sweet fellowship. The church still meets in a building in an industrial area behind a fruit market in Rishon LeTsion, but they are on track to move into a new building when they raise sufficient funding. This is a major new development.

This is one of the very few churches in Israel to have received a permit to construct a new church building, and it was a very hard-won struggle in the Israel court system. Almost all evangelical churches in Israel usually must meet in established buildings (buildings that were already designated churches when the State of Israel was established in 1948), or rent space from a landlord willing to put up with opposition, or locate in a usually less than desirable industrial area. It is nearly unheard-of to be able to actually put up your own building and have your “own place”!

After the service and Sunday School – at which a Russian Jewish believer shared his testimony – I went to the Zadoks’ home for lunch. David is the head of HaGefen Publishing, which is one of the major Christian publishers in Israel. He
is also the Israel coordinator of the Lausanne Consultation of Jewish Evangelism, of which I am now the International Coordinator. So, we have many things to discuss and just barely got started! Then I needed to be off to go to the airport to pick up Dominic and then on here to Tiberias together.

It has been a very busy two days, but the Lord is blessing our trip in many wonderful ways. Much lies ahead, and we ask your continued prayers as we minister here in Israel.

Yours in His love and service, Jim