On 20 October 2016, the Grace and Truth Christian Congregation, Rehovot, celebrated its 40th anniversary. It was an historic event, not only for this congregation, but also for the body of Christ in Israel.
Not many congregations in Israel were established before 1976, and this was certainly a sure sign of the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord to our people.
By his grace, we were able to celebrate in our new building. Some 250 people gathered, including recent and previous members of the congregation, representatives from other congregations in Israel and guests from overseas.
From the beginning, the planning committee had determined that God would be honoured and glorified above all. The date purposely chosen was the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles, a great reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people throughout 40 years wandering in the desert.
For the first time we turned the parking lot into a reception area, setting up a tent (symbolising the tabernacle) where food was served. We placed tables, sofas and chairs around the area, so guests could enjoy food and fellowship. Thankfully, the Lord provided perfect weather.
A slide show with hundreds of pictures from the last four decades of church life was displayed on a screen. Great nostalgia! In the same way as God brought Israel to the Promised Land, he has brought us safely to this point in the history of the church and the opening of our new building. Because of the Lord’s faithfulness in the past and his promises for the future, we can continue to look to him with great hope.
The programme was planned in such a way that many church members could take part, and it was varied enough to arouse the interest of all our guests. We had two main speakers, friends of the church with words of greeting, along with worship songs, accompanied by the church choir of adults and children, a video documentary about church ministries, and a children’s play.
Baruch Maoz unfolded the 40-year history of Grace and Truth that started in the Maoz family living room and grew into an established church, with leadership and principles of faith based upon a Reformed understanding of theology.
Emphasis was placed on the saving grace of God in Christ, the authority and teaching of the Word of God, the unity of the body of Christ, serving God and his people, and bringing the good news of the gospel to the non-believing community. The congregation strived to follow these principles, although it suffered opposition from Jewish religious organisations throughout the years.
Mr Maoz mentioned the various ministries of the church, as well as the partnerships and collaborations with others in Israel and overseas. David Zadok compared the past 40 years of the congregation to the last 40 years of the State of Israel, that has seen dramatic ups and downs.
The church was established in 1976, only three years after the tragic war of Yom Kippur that left its grim mark on Israel, occupies the minds of many who lived through it, and is still analysed and studied by the military.
Church life has also experienced its ups and downs. Sorrows and joys have had their share in the life of Grace and Truth — we have had many of both. Our church is reinforced with new converts who were baptised in the church and believers who have joined the congregation. This trend is seen also in other congregations in Israel.
Mr Zadok compared the 40 years of Grace and Truth to the journey of the Israelites in the desert. The Lord protected and guided them with the pillar of fire.
The programme ended by singing a new song called ‘Grace and Truth’, composed by Sasha, our worship director. The words were written by one of our elders, Eitan Kashtan. The event concluded with prayer, after which people enjoyed dessert and further fellowship.