March 9, 2013 was a joyous occasion for us at the Cross Media Studios.
That evening about 130 people gathered in the newly-renovated facilities to dedicate the premises to the Lord and to celebrate God’s work among us.
It was truly an evening of righteousness, joy, and peace in the Spirit.
Guests included, visitors and members of the New Covenant Church, the studio ministry team, representatives of the Council of Evangelical Churches in Israel, friends from sister congregations, leaders from the Messianic and Arab Christian communities, volunteers from the various stages of Cross Media’s history, and even the honorable mayor of Haifa, Mr. Yonah Yahav.
Video greetings were sent by key friends and supporters who could not be present.
Several themes ran through the night in the words of those who spoke, in the presentation of the video history of the ministry, and in the prayer and fellowship. It was a night of grateful remembrance of the journey on which the Lord has taken us at Cross Media, a journey from one room and a computer to the place we are today. It was a night to recall the small, even improbable, beginnings; a night to look ahead with expectation to the calling placed before us—transmitting Good News to the waiting youth of a spiritually thirsty Arab world. It was a night of challenge to our faith, a challenge to take whatever small resources we’ve been given and return them to the mighty, wonder-working hand of our God.
It was an evening of excitement about still more opportunities (for example, our new push into production for satellite TV). The evidence of the abundance and generosity of God is all around us, witnessed to by the beautiful studio facilities we now enjoy. Thank you all for your interest, your care, and your commitment to our work in the Master’s field. May the Lord empower our team and this place so that his hope may resound throughout Israel and the Middle East, and to the ends of the earth.
On Thursday May 19 2011, the Haifa New Covenant Church, with the cooperation and support of local and international Christian organizations, undertook a wonderful humanitarian project to provide basic staples and supplies for the city’s needy families. The project was called “Love Haifa.” Parcels and food packs for over 300 families were distributed without reference to religion or ethnic background. Over seventy local and international brothers and sisters volunteered to serve in the preparation and presentation of the care packages to those who came.
The honorable Yonah Yahav, mayor of Haifa, embraced the concept and empowered all the relevant departments of the municipality to help the church and brothers and sisters for the success of the endeavor. The municipality also provided the community center, Beit HaGefen, from which to base this project. The municipality Social Welfare Department provided registrations of needy families and invited them to the community center while seeing to strict confidentiality and taking into account the feelings and privacy of these families.
It is worth noting that there is a high percentage of underprivileged families here, particularly single-parent homes or divorcees with children. Thus it is incumbent upon all of us to care for them with such expressions of generous love and concern. We take great encouragement and joy from the grateful responses which came from all involved--which points to the fact that kindness still prevails in our beloved city of Haifa.
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Most of you by now have heard of the horrible fires that raged near Haifa on Mt. Carmel for the past week. As God's people we pray for his mercy in the situation in general, for those who have lost loved ones and homes, and for the many who bravely fought the blaze. God is answering prayers already, for finally the winter rains have begun. We pray too for a spiritual downpour from heaven's courts!
It is our hope that from the ashes of this tragedy, some good would emerge. Perhaps the unusual cooperation that we have seen between Israel and her neighbors can be a small step towards harmony in our region.
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In moments of loss and devastation, we must respond in the grace and power of God. The New Covenant Church already has taken some first steps. During the crisis we prepared about 1000 sandwiches and drinks to feed all the people fighting to extinguish the fire. It was a real blessing for all of us to be involved helping those who risked their lives to protect us.
Pray that God would guide us, not only the New Covenant Church, but all the believers, in responding to the needs of our land in the aftermath of this tragedy. One thought is to participate in the massive tree planting efforts that will be needed. In every way, physical, social, and spiritual we want to reflect the love of the Messiah for this people. This is a particular opportunity for that love to be expressed across the traditional barrier of Arab-Jewish hostility. May the Lord redeem many and renew his work in our day!
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A few weeks ago, we received an urgent phone call requesting that we "Please come to pray for my dad. He is dying."
We entered the emergency room of the main hospital of Haifa and found the whole family waiting outside for this man to breathe his last breath. They told us that he had been in a coma for two days, and that the doctors didn't give much hope for recovery.
When we entered the room, we found this man lying on his bed connected to a machine that was pushing oxygen into his lungs to keep him alive. His daughter tried to wake him shouting, "Dad, Dad, wake up!" But there was no reaction or movement. I held his hand and prayed, "God, if this is the time that you want him to come to you, please take him now. If not, please heal him now." A long time after this prayer, there was silence. No one said anything.
We returned home, but after four hours, I received a phone call. "Pastor, my dad is awake, and he is eating his dinner!" and he will go home.
Glory to God! This 90-year-old man received another chance to live, but this time it is different. He understands that in the coming days, He should live only for the Lord and for His glory.
Many of you know that the World Cup soccer tournament is taking place in South Africa these days. Soccer is the most popular sport in Israel as well as in the rest of the world. Many people are taking days off from their jobs in order to watch the games. A few years ago, the games were played in a time zone that wasn't so convenient for watching, but it didn't matter. People still woke up at 2 or 3 in the morning to watch them and then went back to sleep after they were over.
During this World Cup, we were concerned that this would cause people to neglect coming to church, so we decided to invite our church family, both young and old, to join together after the worship service to watch the game together. It was so fun to see people wildly cheering for their favorite teams, but at the same time fellowshipping in love with one another.
As a church, we need to always recognize the interests of the people and to use those things for reaching out to them. Our community is becoming more and more selfish and independent. Everyone spends his time at his computer or watching his TV at home alone. These kinds of activities bring people together as one body to fellowship together.
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:1-3).
The New Covenant Church celebrated Christmas and New Year on 27.12.2009 in our new building. The celebration included a variety of programs and many talents: dances by the little children, Christmas carols, poems and the finale was a one man comedy show.
A few women from the church prepared a unique dinner, and after the celebration everyone went to the church fellowship hall and ate dinner together.
Santa Claus gave presents to the children and some elders of the church.
On 12/12/2009 the New Covenant Church hosted a Christmas celebration led by the musical team “Alrab Rayati”(The Lord Is My Banner). There were more than 450 people gathered together in the church praising and worshiping God.
Pastor Yousef Dakwar opened the celebration with a short prayer, wishing everyone Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The host, Gasan Ode, from the evangelical church in Kafar-yasif led the program which included Christmas carols, worship songs and some reading from the Bible.
The team “Alrab Rayati” with their Pastor Khaled Dalle preformed the songs in a unique and special way, which made everyone enjoy the celebration.
Some of the songs were choreographed with dancing by the group “Kings Kids." and The “Bells Team” led by Fadi Hana, performed 3 Christmas songs, using special bells.
For the first time, Cross Media broadcast the Christmas celebration video live on the internet.
The New Covenant Church led a feeding project in Haifa on the 10.11.2009, joined by Christian groups both from abroad and from all around the country. The project was performed under the name “Love Haifa.” It was a social program designed to give the needy families in the city of Haifa their basic supplies.
The packages were delivered to more than 170 needy families without regards to their ethnic, racial or religious background.
The mayor of Haifa, Yona Yahav, welcomed the idea and gave support in every way he could, insuring that the program would succeed. The social department in the municipality of Haifa municipality provided a list with the names of the most needy families, and invited them to the center were the packages were delivered, insuring the people that there would be privacy and secrecy.
There were more than 50 volunteers from the country and out of the country who helped prepare the packages and deliver them to the needy families.
Pastor Yousef said, “the purpose of this event is to encourage the church to participate in social projects and reach out to the community around them, no matter what background they come from. We are the salt of the earth, which is why we need to be moving among our community, showing the love of Christ through our life and actions.
He continues to say, "the purpose of the project is not to evangelize the people. We do not need to use the weakness and needs of the people to lead them to Christ. Instead, they need to make the decision of following Jesus when they are physically, emotionally and intellectually sound and settled."
Some people from the municipality of Haifa came to the center and were amazed how the project was organized, and how efficiently the supplies were given to the people. One of the families who received the supplies shared, “we are a needy family and our situation is very bad. We go to many official and governmental centers to get supplies and what we received there is bad treatment and supplies that were expired. But what we see here is something different. The way the volunteers welcome us and smile at us is something we are not used to.”
The land of Israel is recently enjoying the rains that are now falling after a long, hot summer. My thoughts go to the story of Elijah who prayed, waited and expected God to send rain. He sent his servant to look for rain time after time. Finally, the servant reported to Elijah that he saw a small cloud as small as a man's hand rising from the sea. They knew that this small cloud would bring great rains. Just like the prophet who walked this area thousands of years ago, we too are praying, expecting and waiting for a spiritual rain to come and bring life-giving water to hearts, people and a land that is dry and thirsty. Just as the rains are surely coming now in their season, we believe God will rain down His spirit on us... Because He Is Faithful.
"A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea." 1 Kings 18.44
The youth ministry is flourishing at NCC. It is vital that we reach and care for the booming youth population of our world; they are the future of our society and the church. At NCC we have two youth outreach teams, one for the younger set, led by Venise Mk'abal, and one for the "fifteens" and above, led by Christine Dakwar.
Recently each youth team enjoyed an overnight event at the church building. It was an amazing spiritual encounter for the youth, not to mention a lot of fun. There were times of talking, eating together, movies, etc. And, there was a great move of the Spirit on our youth as they prayed, cried out to God, and worshipped. Many made serious commitments of faith to the Lord, many renewed their commitments and were filled with the Spirit. The only thing that was missing from the event seems to have been sleep!
Last month, the NCC body, packed on to two huge busses, went on a mini-tour of Jerusalem and environs. Besides the simple purpose of building up relationships and "togetherness" the goal was to expose our people to the heritage of the Land. So often the local believers miss out on the richness of the biblical history and geography that surrounds us, a heritage that is ours both as residents of Israel and the people of Messiah. Our travels took us to locations such as Jerusalem, the Mt. of Olives, the Garden Tomb, and the Dead Sea region.
One Year Anniversary:
On October 11, 2009 NCC celebrated one year in our new premises! Looking back on the dedication service of Fall 2008, we are humbled by God's gracious presence with us and we look ahead with great expectation to the future. The joy of our celebration service was greatly enhanced by the participation of international friends from the U.S., Canada, Singapore, and Finland who all (through no strategy of our own) happened to visit us precisely on this anniversary service! Pastor Yousef challenged us that in view of all God has given us in the year past, we must look to the year ahead asking what we can give back to Him.
SITTING AT JESUS' FEET -- We have been led by the Spirit and believe that this is the time to invest in the maturity and discipleship of our congregation. July 15 we began 8 home groups that are studying the book of James from the Joy of Living series that we translated into Arabic. The people are blessed and excited to invest in their spiritual growth.
At the same time we received 47,000 books on church development in Arabic from a dear ministry in Canada. We distributed these books to 45 different churches around the country.