Once again, I am returning from Israel, where we have just dedicated the Moishe Rosen Center in the Florentine district of Tel Aviv, a very trendy neighborhood frequented by young Israeli Jews.
It is hard to believe it’s been less than one year since I announced that Jews for Jesus had the opportunity to purchase this facility. And while we still have a way to go in the necessary finances and renovations, it is exciting to see it all beginning to come together.
The first floor of the three floor facility will have space for Bible Studies and worship services, as well as a full kitchen and room to serve delicious meals. We will also have a library space, a reading area and a coffee bar. Then campaigners and young people in training will be housed in apartments and dormitories on the second and third floors.
We held the dedication service on the first floor. Right now it is just an empty shell but we saw an artist’s rendering of the plans I’ve just described. We had a brief service and spent time in prayer for the future of the Rosen Center.
During our prayer time, we wrote our prayers on the unfinished walls along with the names of people we wanted to lift up before the Lord. I wrote the names of all of our Israel missionary staff with the request, Watch over your people Lord, in the name of Yeshua.” Others wrote names of friends and family who still need to know the Lord. Eventually those prayers and those names will be plastered over and no longer visible. But they will still be there and the Lord will still see.
Our prayer time stirred up dreams as well as memories of Moishe and his vision for our ministry in Israel. This building will be a partial fulfillment of his dream: he always expected that the Holy Spirit would begin touching Israelis’ hearts and he wanted us to be ready for a time of great evangelism and discipleship there. He was excited about the potential of this building to facilitate our work there, but he let me know it should not be named after him. Moishe wanted us to call the facility the Ceil Rosen center after his wife, who led him to faith—but Ceil would have none of that.
Moishe’s dream and mine is not so much about a building. It isn’t about bricks and mortar, wood, glass and stone. It is about people, especially young Israeli Jews, coming to faith in Jesus and coming to the Center to study God’s Word as they prepare to go and tell others about Jesus. I wish Moishe could have been with us to see how far we have come in realizing part of that dream. Our Board of Directors was able to see it. We were joined by fifteen Israeli Jews for Jesus, including staff, students and interns all eager to use this Center to reach many more people for Jesus.
Moishe’s daughter Lyn and son-in-law Alan took part in the service as well, and each spoke a few words on behalf of the family. Click here for more about that and some photos. We were all missing Moishe, but we did enjoy a video of him during the service: it showed him telling the story of the first time he took communion. If you’ve never heard that story you can watch the video below. It is so funny yet instructive for those who may not realize the culture shock Jewish people undergo as new believers in Jesus. And of course, it is vintage Moishe.
Anyone who has ever been involved in a construction project knows that things never go as smoothly as you might hope; it is inevitably more costly than you thought and takes far longer than you may have planned. This has certainly been true with the Moishe Rosen Center. I had hoped that we would be dedicating the completed project but we have several more months to go. All of this seems an appropriate metaphor for the life of a child of God.
Ruth Graham Bell said that she wanted the message from a familiar road sign placed on her tombstone, “End of construction, thanks for your patience.” The Moishe Rosen Center has yet to realize that sentiment, but praise the Lord, Moishe Rosen has. This is the hope of all believers.
Our construction is never complete until we leave this life. Meanwhile, the Bible tells us we can be confident that God is leading us step-by-step though that process.
Jesus said to Peter, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). God is the master builder, constructing us as individuals but also creating through us a masterpiece He calls His church or the household of God, which is, “… built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). Imagine, we are part of that holy temple, the building of the Lord. It is a privilege to be a project in the making when the master architect is also the builder of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ.
With all the unrest in the Middle East and governments in upheaval, with earthquakes and tsunamis wreaking destruction and devastation we cannot cling to physical structures like buildings made with human hands. But we know that our lives are hidden in God and our hope is rooted and grounded in Him. He has promised us a future and a hope that is secure in His Son Jesus. As with the Moishe Rosen Center, all of us are works in progress but we can claim the promise of God for this Center, for the ministry of Jews for Jesus in Israel and for each of us as individuals: “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).