For the Lord will rebuild Zion … He will respond to the prayer of the destitute.
Julia Fisher visits Beit Ha’Yeshua, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.
And it’s happening before our eyes!
“Beit Ha’Yeshua is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre and our programme is based around Yeshua. It’s Messianic and we believe that only God has the power to set these men free from drugs and alcohol.” So said Zvi Randelman, the founder and director of the centre.
The uncompromising programme at Beit Ha’Yeshua has proved to be very successful in seeing men restored to full life and health in body, mind and spirit, after years of drug abuse.
You have Jewish and Arab men in your programme – how does that work in reality, I asked Zvi.
“Well there are challenges when you deal with Jew and Arab together, mainly because of cultural differences. The Arab culture is totally different to the Jewish culture, especially those who have come from the former Soviet Union. Also, we’ve had some come into the programme who are Moslem. But whether a person is a Moslem or a Jew, or whatever, we believe that only the Messiah, Yeshua, is the way for them to find victory.”
I was visiting Beit Ha’Yeshua in the Talpiot region of Jerusalem. It’s a mainly industrial area. Sat next to Zvi was Dennis (a Jew from the former Soviet Union) who entered the programme a few years ago and now he is on the staff.
“I was a drug addict from the age of 14. At the age of 20, I began to wonder why am I even alive. But I never thought for long because the drugs blocked out these questions. But I did realise that when I was taking drugs I was on the way to death. I stopped for a time and again began to wonder what the purpose of my life was. But I couldn’t handle that so I returned to taking drugs and continued until the age of 30. I didn’t know what my purpose in life was; I was always running away from that question.
At the age of 30 I came to Jerusalem and entered the programme of Beit Ha’Yeshua. The circumstances behind that were I lived in Haifa but there were reasons why I couldn’t stay there. The police were looking for me, criminal elements were after me and other people were also putting pressure on me and I realised I needed to run away. I found the telephone number of Beit Ha’Yeshua and I called them and they said, ‘Come!’ When I arrived they began to pray for me and they taught me about the Word of God. I thought they were crazy! But I couldn’t go back to Haifa! So I stayed and within three months, God began to touch me. He touched my heart and I realised He is real. I also understood why I was alive. And I understood that drugs weren’t the root of my problem – the root of the problem was I didn’t know God.
At first it was hard at Beit Ha’Yeshua because every day I had to choose either to commit my life to the Lord or to live for myself. But God is faithful and He worked in my life. When I finished the programme I knew I wanted to serve God. Even though I may have to go through difficult circumstances and hard times, I still knew God was going to make me his servant. I have been here for six years now and for the last three years I’ve been on the staff of Beit Ha’Yeshua.
There wasn’t a day when God didn’t help me. He is always faithful and I love to work here at the centre for Him. It makes me so happy to see how God changes lives and raises people ‘from the dead’; rehabilitates them and turns them around 180 degrees.”
I asked Dennis how he viewed his future and he laughed!
“ It’s a little difficult for me to say exactly what will happen. I know I will carry on serving Yeshua. It could be that God wants to expand the work here. Maybe He’ll want us to start another centre. Maybe He’ll even give me the opportunity to open a centre in another country. Maybe God wants to expand our congregation and there will be more work for me there. I’m open to all these options!”
I asked Zvi whether the men who had successfully completed the programme at Beit Ha’Yeshua tended to go on and help other drug addicts.
“It’s natural,” he replied. “They have a heart to help those in the deep darkness which they themselves were in. For example we have outreaches twice a week now to Tel Aviv and those who have finished the programme, and even some still in the programme, come and take part with us. Right now two of the staff members here are people who have been through the programme.”
When you go out onto the streets, and you take people like Dennis with you, what sort of effect do they have on the people you are trying to reach, I asked.
“As Paul says, ‘We are living epistles. The greatest testimony is not just in word, it’s in a changed life. So we have guys who come on the outreach teams and people on the street have known them previously. When they see the change in them they say, ‘What happened to you?’ And they describe how they met Yeshua and they invite them to the centre. And that gives the drug addicts hope that something can change in their life too.”
So you bring them back to the centre and they immediately share the same apartment with the other men here. What happens during those first 24 hours?
“First of all, we don’t take anybody! We filter them out by explaining who we are and that we are a Messianic centre. But the main thing is we tell them they have to obey all the rules which include no smoking. This is tough because drug addicts are heavy smokers so this immediately tests their seriousness. But if we really feel they are desperate and want help then we bring them back with us. When they arrive here we search them to make sure they are not bringing in drugs. They have a shower and we give them clean clothes. Then we’ll pray for them that God will deliver them from the power of addiction and withdrawal symptoms. In our experience, we see about 80% of the guys healed immediately or very quickly from those withdrawal symptoms, which is amazing. We understand that God does this to reveal Himself to these men and to show them that He is alive. The guys already in the programme help the new people and encourage them all the way.”
Zvi does not have the time to go out fund raising. As well as running Beit Ha’Yeshua he is also the pastor of a growing Messianic congregation which is largely comprised of former drug addicts! The verse at the top of this article is from Psalm 102 in which the Psalmist foretells of the day, the ‘appointed time’ when the Lord will ‘rebuild Zion’. ‘You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favour to her’ the appointed time has come.’ ‘Let this be written for a future generation’ the Psalmist says, ‘that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.’
If we want to be a people who share God’s passion to see Israel not only restored physically but also spiritually then can I ask you to consider responding to this article and helping Zvi Randelman and the work at Beit Ha’Yeshua through the Olive Tree Reconciliation Fund ….
The Olive Tree Reconciliation Fund is a small charity based in the UK that supports needy Arab and Jewish believers in a spirit of reconciliation. You will find articles, programmes and information about our tours to Israel on our web site www.olivetreefund.org where you can also leave a donation. If you would like to receive our free bi-monthly newsletter please either email email@example.com or write to me, Julia Fisher, OTRF, PO Box 850, Horsham, RH12 9GA in the UK. If you are sending a cheque, please make it out to the Olive Tree Reconciliation Fund.
The Olive Tree radio programme at 4.45pm every Sunday on Premier (on DAB across the UK or on line at www.premier.org.uk ) broadcasts the stories of both Jewish and Arab believers living in Israel today, as told by themselves. These programmes are stimulating much interest and are reaching a new audience that has hitherto been oblivious of what God is doing in Israel and the PA today. All the programmes are on our website www.olivetreefund.org – one suggestion is to use them as a basis for an OTRF prayer group in your area.
OTRF tour to Israel 13 – 23 October 2012. This tour provides a unique opportunity to meet many believers living in Israel and the PA whilst travelling throughout the Holy Land! We deliberately keep the numbers on these tours small. The itinerary is packed. So if you would like to come and see and hear for yourself what God is doing there please get in touch as soon as you can. Further information is available on our web site, www.olivetreefund.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Archtours on 01372 843678 and ask for Polly Zabari.