Ebenezer Senior Citizens Home in Haifa bids farewell to Johnny Khoury; welcomes new manager, David Phillips

Ebenezer home bids farewell to managing director, Johnny Khoury (Photo courtesy)

Ebenezer Senior Citizens Home in Haifa, the nation’s only elderly home for messianic believers, bid farewell earlier this month to its managing director of 20 years, Johnny Khoury.

During the farewell celebration at the Beit Eliyahu congregation, next door to the Ebenezer Home, hundreds of friends, family, residents, and leaders of the messianic community gathered to honor and thank Khoury for his service, as well as to pray for him and his wife Shoshana. David Phillips, who has been serving as Ebenezer’s construction project manager for the last 12 years, will be taking the helm.

The celebration, hosted by congregation leader Shmuel Awaida, included worship music, testimonials and accolades of appreciation for Khoury, whose legacy includes overseeing Ebenezer Home during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic and many milestones, such as celebrating the 100th birthday of its oldest resident earlier this year.

Today, the facility is home to 30 residents with varying needs, served by 35 professional staff, including nurses, social workers and physical therapists, along with kitchen, cleaning and administrative staff. Overseas volunteers are welcome and serve on two-year visas. Residents pay a scaled fee according to their income, which is supplemented by private donations.

“We were at peace knowing our loved ones were in your care,” said an Arab Christian brother who came to faith through Johnny’s ministry to him. “The salary the staff receives is just for daily provision. Your true reward is being stored up in heaven.”

A visiting board member from Norway, thanked Khoury for his commitment to Ebenezer Home and highlighted the important role of the manager.

“Johnny, thank you for the gift you gave us for serving Ebenezer Home for all these years,” he said. Regarding the COVID pandemic, he noted the many unique and difficult challenges.

“As we all know, this burden pushed the limits of your health, and created stress also for everybody who worked in the home. And this highlights again one of the important aspects of the manager’s role – to unite the staff for a great task – even when it goes “beyond the limits.”

“On behalf of the board, we’ve appreciated your openness, your warmth, your ability to listen…” he added.

Khoury shared that he never expected to become the manager of a senior facility, but the Lord called him to the position at Ebenezer Home and given him this testimony: “The Lord is the One who “fills the heart and provides the hands to serve.”

“We are not angels,” Khoury said, “but with God’s grace and the spirit of Yeshua, we are able to sacrifice and to serve.”

David Phillips (L) and Johnny Khoury (Photo courtesy)

Toward the end of the celebration, Khoury passed the baton to Phillips, who has been serving Ebenezer and the residents since 2010. Phillips came on board initially to supervise building construction. He recognized the need to overhaul the facility with a team and was eventually offered full-time employment. Last year he assumed the responsibilities as the chief operating officer, which allowed for a smoother transition into the managing director position.

“I need the Lord every day,” Phillips said, thanking the attendees for their support during the transition and their prayers over him, his wife Esther and his four children.

“I know we cannot please everyone all the time,” he added, “but with God’s help, I will serve you to the best of my ability.”

Ebenezer Home officially opened on Feb. 24, 1976 as a charitable Christian institution “designed to meet the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of the residents of the Home, within the framework of a Biblical perspective.”

Khoury began working for the home in 1998 and just five years later, in 2003, became the first local Israeli manager.

Prior to Khoury’s management role, Ebenezer Home was run by various international managers from overseas who rotated in and out on short-term assignments, usually for three or four years. Over time, it became clear that Israeli management was needed to interact with local government offices and to develop and implement long-term plans for the home.

To read more about the history of Ebenezer Home, click here.