Some years ago, God gave us a
vision to create an after-school program that would bring together
children from our diverse community in a fun and creative atmosphere.
Since we started in 2012, over 100 children from 10 different
congregations all over the Western Galilee have participated. In any
given year around 40 children attend, both Jewish and Arab.
One of the main reasons we wanted to set up a program like this was to
provide children from believing families with a midweek "oasis" - a safe
place of fellowship and unity. They all attend different schools and are
isolated in their day to day routine from other believers. (In Israel it
is rare for there to be more than one or two believers in an entire
school.) The congregational fellowship on the weekend is simply not enough.
In addition, our hearts have been broken to see division in the body of
Messiah. We want to be an agent for unity. Children are a great place to
start because they don't have prejudices towards each other's
"worship style", theology or ethnicity.
During the first year we developed the paradigm with children from our
own congregation. Then we started to invite kids from other local
congregations. When the new children started attending they recognized
fellow students among the other kids and realized that they were not the
only believers in their school!
A Light to the Community
Over time, several children from unbelieving homes have begun to join us
(after their parents hear a clear explanation regarding our beliefs so
there aren't any misunderstandings). They are attracted to the light
and the love with no strings attached, and the culture of mutual respect.
Jewish and Arab Children Together
In the majority of Israeli towns, Jewish and Arab children study and live
in separate neighborhoods and schools. This means that in their day to
day life, they rarely meet or interact. As we bring Jewish and Arab
children together with a common denominator of faith, we are seeing
stereotypes broken before our eyes. In the weekly meetings they discover
common ground and even become friends. This is probably what amazes us
the most - to see children coming together in fellowship from backgrounds
so completely different. Over time they develop a true regard for each
Through the various activities we also seek to instill Biblical values
such as courtesy, love, looking out for the good of others, how to defer
and how to forgive. Opportunities often arise to practice these
qualities and to pray through conflicts among them.
We retain the services of professional teachers who provide each child
with weekly lessons in 2 out of 6 "electives" of each child's
choosing: choir, classical guitar, robotics, art and table tennis. The
children are encouraged to learn these new skills for the purpose of
serving and blessing others via the knowledge they have gained. We have
already been able to give them the opportunity to serve the elderly and
Holocaust survivors in several different settings, including secular day
centers for the elderly.
It is our desire to create an environment in which the kids can try out
new things. Some had no idea that they had a gift in a certain area and
as they participate it suddenly becomes obvious. Many of the families
come from challenging economic backgrounds and would not be able to
afford weekly music or art lessons for their gifted children.
Participation in the program is granted to the children free of charge
(this includes dinner and transportation).
In the future, we hope to purchase more instruments and equipment and to
broaden the variety of activities to include new areas such as dance,
drama and additional musical instruction. At this point we are already
using our space and budget to its full extent. So we are also praying
regarding expanding our facilities.
All of this has been accomplished through God's grace. In ourselves
we don't have the strength and resources, but He is at work through
us. We enthusiastically look forward to seeing how He will continue to
In conclusion, we also want to say a great big thank you to those who
have been supporting this project financially and prayerfully!