Relationship would help churches in Israel develop disaster relief ministry
MORRISTOWN — First Baptist Church here is launching a “Harvest of Israel Ministry.”
The goal of the ministry is to help Messianic churches in Israel develop a disaster relief plan in the event of war or other catastrophic event, said Dean Haun, senior pastor of the Morristown congregation.
Haun said teams from FBC and other churches interested in ministering in Israel would help them learn how to do mass feeding, reconstruction and other elements of disaster relief ministry.
“We would teach the congregations there how to do it and we would come alongside them and help,” Haun said.
The churches in Israel would be communicating that they are doing it through the love of Jesus Christ, Haun noted.
Though the concept of a partnership originally began with one congregation — Harvest of Asher, a Messianic church in northern Israel — it has grown to include other Messianic congregations in Israel, pro-life organizations and Ely Ministries in Jerusalem.
Haun, who has been to Israel 15 times, recalled that on his sixth trip to the country he asked God to “open a door of ministry” that would minister to all people in the country. Then last November, Guy Cohen, pastor of Harvest of Asher, visited First Baptist Church and shared the ministry plans the congregation desired to do in northern Israel. Those plans included a school and a soup kitchen, Haun related.
Church member Don Owen, who heads up disaster relief ministry for Nolachucky Baptist Association, observed that some of Cohen’s plans had elements of disaster relief ministry.
Owen and Haun had a meeting with Cohen and discovered the pastor also wanted to be able to reach out to the Jewish people “in the name of Jesus” in the event of a major disaster.
Cohen asked First Baptist to partner with them.
In March, three members of the team, led by Owen, traveled to Israel to investigate the possibility of ministry there. Traveling with Owen were Brian Collins of Holtz Baptist Church and Don Rhoades of Hillcrest Baptist Church, both in Morristown.
Haun said Pastor Cohen laughingly referred to the trio as “the three spies.”
The team assessed the needs and potential for ministry in Israel and came back with a report, Haun said.
From that assessment, things have mushroomed, Haun said.
The church has developed an Israel Rapid Response Team that will be ready to go on a moment’s notice to Israel in the event of a disaster or war in the country, Haun said. He noted, however, how fast they get there depends on if they are able to enter the country.
The team does include Baptists from six churches and Haun said they are looking for other congregations “who want to do ministry with us in Israel.”
He noted the partnership has been established and the church has already received more than $10,000 in donations to purchase supplies for Israel and to defray shipping costs. The church also was given a large amount of medical supplies from Morristown Hamblen Hospital that can be used if needed in Israel.
Should the team be needed in Israel, they would help coordinate the work there through the Messianic congregations, Haun stressed. While there are more than 100 Messianic congregations in Israel, there are only 14 with a membership of 100 or more, he observed.
Other plans tentatively call for the church to assist Harvest of Asher in building a school and with other ministries in their community including a crisis pregnancy ministry.
Haun stressed that the work in Israel, though disaster relief-related, will provide witnessing opportunities.
“Social ministry is an opportunity to share the gospel,” Haun said.
He is optimistic about the potential for the ministry in Israel.
“God has opened this incredible door of opportunity,” Haun said.
Both Haun and Owen encouraged Tennessee Baptists who would be interested in ministering in Israel to let them know.
“We hope to get some folks who want to get their hands dirty to join us,” Owen said.
“I feel like this is something we need to be doing — helping our brothers in Israel.”
Anyone interested in this ministry can contact Owen at (423) 581-4875 or email@example.com; Haun at (423) 586-0522 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or the website at www.harvestofisrael.org.