Member Highlight: Nachalat Yeshua Congregation
Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua’s Inheritance) is a diverse Messianic congregation in Beer Sheva, founded in 1972. Their mission is to be witnesses of the love of Yeshua and to bring more people into His Kingdom.
This warm and inviting congregation, led by Pastor Howard Bass, emphasizes sound teaching, fervent prayer, worship in spirit and in truth, genuine fellowship, and effective evangelism and discipleship.
“Our vision is that as many people as possible under our authority and influence would be ready for and have part in the First Resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6).” Pastor Howard Bass
Streams in the Negev, the corresponding non-profit organization associated with Nachalat Yeshua, aims to provide Biblical education and training deeply connected to the roots of our spiritual heritage. They invest in local charity initiatives and serve the community, endeavoring to meet local needs with the love of God and practical assistance.
Recently, we asked pastor Howard how they honor various holidays, and how that plays out in his congregation. We wanted to find out what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in Beer Sheva in a Messianic congregation, being that many congregations in Israel don’t celebrate Christmas at all.
“We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. We light Hanukkah candles and celebrate with traditional elements. The children have a special camp during their Hanukkah school vacation. But we give greater priority to the birth of Yeshua. He is the true and eternal Light who lights each believer. He is the Savior and restorer of the true worship of God. His death, resurrection and coming again are part of our celebration.”
There is no biblical command to celebrate either Christmas or Hanukkah. But the story of the incarnation of Messiah is in the Bible; this event is part of the crux of our salvation – Immanuel, God with us.
“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.” Romans 14:5-6
“We celebrate Messiah’s birth. This is a ‘free-will’ offering unto God, which He accepts, especially when the pagan elements are left out. We are witnesses that the Messiah HAS come. God took on flesh and blood to redeem us. Part of the resistance to celebrating His birth is the spiritual warfare going on against that fundamental truth.”
Although much of the Christmas celebration around the world has incorporated a host of commercial, traditional or even pagan elements that have nothing to do with the core event of Messiah’s birth, there is much that is redeemable about celebrating Christmas.
“The songs inspired by this amazing birth are a blessing to even unbelievers, including Jews in Israel. The first ones to celebrate the Father’s joy were angels, then Israeli Jewish shepherds, an Israeli older woman intercessor, and an old Jewish man waiting for this good news! This is relevant today in Israel among the Jewish people, and is also a way for Jewish and Arab believers to join together.”
Do you encounter any resistance in celebrating Christmas? If so, how do you respond to this?
“We have had some opposition. In the beginning of our time here, we were strongly opposed! And we saw how we hurt people. Then the Holy Spirit, I am confident, began to show us that our reasons were wrong for not celebrating. That began an ongoing search of the Scriptures and an increased joy in celebrating during this time of year. People are free to participate with us or not, however, we choose to enjoy this free-will celebration unto the glory of God.”
Are there any particular ways that you as a pastor instruct or teach your congregation regarding these holidays or celebrations?
“I instruct them in their relevance for us today. The Maccabees fought for the restoration of the true worship of YHVH against the paganism which came in to the Jewish Israeli culture. We, too, must be vigilant in our worship: the Father is seeking those who worship Him in spirit and truth. The celebration of the birth of the Messiah is the greatest turning point in history. We celebrate in remembrance of God’s wonderful gift to mankind in fulfillment of His promise going back to the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, and His plan before the foundation of the Earth. In Israel, it is a testimony that the Messiah has come; and Jesus is still a sign spoken against, and the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel (and in the Church). But His birth shook the Heavens and the Earth as God began to take back His Kingdom from the unbelievers, pagans, and the devil.”
That is reason to celebrate.
How can people join with you to pray for Nachalat Yeshua?
Please pray for the emerging young adults (following military service). We would love to have many of them choose to remain in Beer Sheva and in Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation, to serve the Lord in their lives both in the workplace, the family, and the congregation.”
Do you have any particular projects or specific congregational needs at the moment?
“The property and facility that we use is in need of some renovation and improvement, in particular, the side yard and the semi-enclosed courtyard in which we hold our services. Renovating these is a high priority for us now.”
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7
Please join with us this week as we pray for Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation)!
To Learn More: http://www.streamsinthenegev.com