House of Victory
House of Victory … a bold name for a rehabilitation centre in northern Israel that welcomes both Jewish and Arab drug addicts and alcoholics by Julia Fisher
House of Victory or “Beit Nitzachon” (its name in Hebrew) is located in Haifa on Mount Carmel. David and Karen Davis founded Israel’s first Bible-based rehabilitation centre in 1991 after the first Gulf War. Talk to David Davis and he’ll tell you that the vision for this ministry has always been the ‘one new man’ in Messiah (Ephesians 2:14-16). I’ve visited faith based rehabilitation centres (run by Christians) in the UK and abroad where the aim is purely on breaking the power of addiction. But at Beit Nitzachon they are fighting on two fronts – addiction and racial hatred – because to achieve the ‘one new man in Messiah’ in Israel today involves demolishing the ancient wall of enmity between Jew and Arab. In today’s political climate I wonder which is the greater breakthrough.
Recently I visited Beit Nitzachon with a group of Christians from the UK. Eric Benson, the Director, took us on a tour of the house. We watched a DVD made by some of the men, former addicts, living there. It told the story of everyday life at Beit Nitzachon. Men arrive almost dead. Some are picked up off the streets of Haifa whilst others knock on the door asking for help. Years of drug or alcohol abuse have reduced them to being homeless, thieves and beggars. Having lost their integrity and pride, they are out of work and incapable of caring or providing for their families (many are married with children). The stark reality of hopelessness in the faces of these men was painfully obvious.
However, equally stark was the difference in their eyes between the day of their arrival at Beit Nitzachon and their condition a few days later. An almost unrecognisable transformation had taken place as the power of addiction had been broken. We saw how this is done – through prayer, reading the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. We heard how marriages and families have been restored and how many graduates of House of Victory are now leading purposeful lives and some are working amongst drug addicts in Israel.
As we toured the house we met and talked with the men living there. Some were Jews, many from the former Soviet Union, whilst others were Arabs. We didn’t sense any hostility between the two groups; indeed it was difficult to tell who was who they seemed so well integrated! I asked Eric Benson to explain how can this happen so quickly?
“Paul wrote to the Corinthians that we need to be wise master builders (1 Corinthians 3). A wise builder establishes his spiritual house upon the rock (Matthew 7:24) through obedience. In order for our house to continue to stand for the duration of time we need to follow this truth. We need to be able to say as Elijah, ‘I have done everything according to your word.’
The step of faith it has taken to establish this work is for the glory of God. As a result the presence of God dwells in our house. This obviously separates us from any secular programme the government operates. Therefore when a man comes into our house he is immediately aware that we are different. This has a powerful impact upon those walking through our doors. The Holy Spirit’s presence acts as a restraint. Men whose lives were once out of control enter an environment they never imagined possible. Last year we received a Muslim into our programme. He had a violent past and spent years in prison yet today he is a new creation. There were times in the beginning when he became angry. He shouted at some of the students in the programme and even at the staff. However, he responded to our correction as we firmly spoke to him in love. Today the fruit of the Spirit is emerging in his life. What used to be a harsh character is now becoming gentler. A man who once did not experience love is now being changed by it.
It has been touching to see him develop friendships with some of the men in the house. One in particular is a former student, now a staff member named Sergei. I have witnessed these men reading the Word of God together, praying with each other and advancing the work projects in our house. It is a testimony of walls and barriers breaking down between ethnic groups. What a joy to hear men pray in Arabic for their Jewish brothers or in Hebrew or Russian for their Arab brother. These are daily occurrences in our midst.
Over the years we have been able to establish a pattern in our ministry that helps a man adapt to this strange, new and healthy environment. It is called a river of love. Jesus promised there would be flowing from within us rivers of living water. The Word of God in Romans 5:5 states that the Holy Spirit will pour out love in our hearts. Together these promises produce a river of love. As men begin to enter these waters the flow of the Spirit begins to take hold of their hearts. The old ways begin to pass away and the new comes.
If men are willing to follow this leading of the Spirit and to continue in the word of truth, freedom will enter their hearts. It is because of these promises a light shines upon each man in our house creating the hope for a new life.”
It was from Beit Nitzachon that Kehilat HaCarmel (Carmel Assembly) emerged in 1991, a Messianic congregation embracing Jewish believers and Arab Christians as well as Christians from the nations. Here, inspired by the ‘one new man’, they worship and pray together (often spending a night in prayer), and over the years have developed a number of initiatives to help the poor people (Arabs and Jews) living in the villages on Mount Carmel and in Haifa. Each week, food and clothing are distributed. So it is clear that former drug addicts have played an integral role in the life of this congregation.
David Davis told me, “One of my greatest joys as a pastor is to witness once lost and addicted Jewish and Arabic ‘sons’ take their place in the body of Messiah in Israel. Graduates of House of Victory include our youth pastor, a home group leader, and media ministry leader, as well as workers at House of Victory and Beit Yedidia, our community centre. One Arab graduate is a fearless preacher of the gospel to Muslims in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Jericho. Others minister in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Only Jesus can reconcile Jews and Arabs, and He is doing it.”
I asked Eric why he is prepared to invest so much time in helping drug addicts?
“One element of faith is perseverance. The concept of time is found in this word. The reality is that to change ones life a period of time is required. In our work we need to understand this principle! As we give ourselves to the men in the house, our time spent with them is an expression of love. The world says that time is money; we say that time spent together in Godly fellowship is transformation. The vision of being fruitful today and the hope of raising up an army of disciples for tomorrow sustains us in the midst of all the hardships we confront. To see men crossing over from death to life is a worthwhile investment of our time.”
I asked David Davis, how the work of House of Victory relates to what God is doing in Israel today?
“The drug and alcohol problem in Israel is of epidemic proportions, cutting across all segments of society. House of Victory is the first Bible-based rehabilitation centre in Israel. Today other similar ministries have followed in Galilee, Haifa, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva. Some of the Messianic leaders of these newer ministries studied the House of Victory model before launching out. The War on Drugs Authority in Israel has had minimal success in curing the long-term affects of addictive behaviour. At House of Victory the new birth in Messiah, prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit and being discipled in the Word of God bring healing to the whole person — body, soul and spirit.”
I asked Eric Benson how Christians in the West can support this work.
“Believers throughout the world need to realize they have an important role in what happens in the Land. Scripture proclaims that what God does in this nation is for the sole purpose of glorifying His name throughout the world. Hence, at House of Victory we are making our humble contribution for the edification of the remnant in this land. It is from within this remnant that God’s name will be revealed as Holy to the ends of the earth. To be called together to participate in this miracle is awesome. We cannot accomplish this task alone. We need to strive together in this wonderful miracle.
We encourage you to come and visit us whenever you are travelling in Israel. To see the ministry face-to-face helps to establish our connection with each other. It is our desire that more and more people request our monthly prayer reports in order to stand together in the gap with us.
Also financial assistance is critical! Today, the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. We need to increase the amount of staff workers on our team. The Word of God encourages us to raise up those amongst us. A sign of the fruit of our ministry is that most of our workers are former students. We need the testimony of these men to speak hope into the hearts of those being rescued from the streets. We need to be able to provide a salary for one or two of these faithful servants. Your help in this area would certainly enable us to advance God’s work in our midst.”
If you would like to send a gift to House of Victory, then please send your donation to me Julia Fisher at The Olive Tree Reconciliation Fund, PO Box 850, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 9GA. Cheques should be made payable to The Olive Tree Reconciliation Fund.
The Olive Tree Fund is set up to support the work of Messianic believers and Arab Christians living in Israel and the Palestinian Areas. If you would like more information please contact Julia Fisher by email at enquiries(at)olivetreefund.org or by writing to the address above.
DAVID DAVIS is the Founder and Senior Pastor of Kehilat HaCarmel (Carmel Assembly) on Mount Carmel, Israel where his wife Karen serves as Worship Leader. The Davises are also the founders of House of Victory rehabilitation centre in Haifa where today ERIC BENSON is director.
For more information see www.carmel-assembly.org.il
JULIA FISHER is a writer and broadcaster. For more information see www.olivetreefund.org/books