There are believers all over Israel who, in unimaginable difficulties, overcome by the word of their testimony. They continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Our friends at Dugit in Tel Aviv inspired us with their resilience, so we want to share their story with you.
Avi and Chaya Mizrachi, founders of Dugit, are choosing faith over fear as they overcome challenges in Tel Aviv. “We stand on the Word of God. We pray, and we believe God will do it.”
Overcome by the Word of their Testimony
What does it mean “they were overcome by the word of their testimony?” This phrase comes from the Bible in Romans 12:11, and refers to the victory we have as believers. This is surely a victory that would ring true for local ministry workers in Israel.
The Art of Sharing the Gospel
The Mizrachis founded Dugit – Hebrew for “little boat” – more than 30 years ago. But before Dugit became a ministry, it was a name of… an art gallery.
The Dugit Gallery was an outreach center of the Baptist Church. Tel Aviv was a very secular city, so instead of a religious center, the believers invested in art. Located in a popular part of town, it was a great meeting point for the locals.
Young Avi Mizrachi had just finished a Bible college and was looking for work. He was hired to work at a bookstore adjacent to the gallery.
“Our heart was always to use it as a means to attract people,” Mizrachi shared. And attract they did, because it didn’t take long for him to start a Bible study group at Dugit. And as the group grew, so did their dreams for Tel Aviv.
Believers in Tel Aviv Overcome by the Word of Their Testimony
Tel Aviv is a vibrant and highly populated city where faith and doubt collide. It gained popularity for having a very international vibe and offering a lot of personal freedom. Which is rare in the Middle East.
The young leaders involved with Dugit had a vision to expand the scope of their impact. When the art gallery closed and the building was sold, Mizrachi kept the name Dugit to start a ministry native to Tel Aviv. And the small Bible study soon became a congregation.
Adonai Roi, the Lord is my Shepherd.
This name became a banner over the vibrant young congregation birthed out of Dugit. It was an answer to prayer for many, and a safe place for those searching for hope. Tel Aviv was lighting up with new believers who wanted to share the message of Yeshua (Jesus) in their city.
Go Forth and Multiply…
The reach of Dugit was growing exponentially. Aside from sharing the Gospel and running a congregation, the ministry started a prayer room, today called the VIP Prayer Tower. It opened the doors for believers in Tel Aviv to gather every day to intercede for their people.
Right alongside these worthy causes yet another one came to the forefront. Avi and Chaya Mizrachi started dreaming of helping disadvantaged families in their city. That is how the humanitarian aid project was born.
The Dugit Distribution Center helps families living below the poverty line by providing food and supplies. Through this initiative, Dugit can directly impact the lives of single mothers, Holocaust survivors, immigrants and the elderly. And they are all welcomed by the staff with the love of Yeshua.
Overcoming the Odds
For years, Dugit and the Adonai Roi congregation have been renting meeting halls from other ministries all over the city. But it became imminent that this passionate group of believers in Tel Aviv needed something more permanent.
“The Lord told us to think about ownership,” today Mizrachi says this with confidence. “He told us to put in our stakes, so no one can move us.”
At the time it felt like an impossible job. Property in Tel Aviv is very expensive and for every attractive location there are numerous bids. For a humble ministry it felt like too big of a task. Where do you even begin?
Through a series of miracles, with favor from God and people, Dugit found the perfect spot to anchor their “little boat”. They were able to purchase the original location of the Dugit Art Gallery!
The former gallery is in one of Tel Aviv’s most popular spots for locals and tourists alike. The nearby picturesque Dizengoff Street is packed with cafés, restaurants and boutique shops. At one point it was called the Champs-Élysées of Tel Aviv, to liken its allure to the famous Parisian avenue.
Answering the Call to Tel Aviv
The area today is bustling with new businesses, which are drawing young professionals. Consequently, there is a fresh demand for high quality eateries and cafés. Thus, a new idea developed.
After returning to their old stomping grounds, they also revived the original idea to create a gathering place. And so, the premises were turned into a coffee shop with a stage for small concerts and more.
Thanks to this trendy location the ministry gained access to a whole new group of people in their city who need a Savior.
The newly purchased location was aptly named HaOgen – the Hebrew word for anchor. Dugit, the little boat filled with fishers of men, is now anchored in the heart of Tel Aviv. One would think that in a city as secular as Tel Aviv believers would not face too much opposition. And yet.
How Does One Overcome by the Word of Their Testimony?
As soon as renovations finished and the coffee shop opened, some of the neighbors challenged the vision of HaOgen. The situation became so tense that it ended up in court.
Anyone could get discouraged in circumstances like this, but leaders of Dugit decided to fight with prayer. At the hearing, Mizrachi came well prepared and won the case – how?
“And they overcame… by the word of their testimony.” (Revelation 12:11)
Avi Mizrachi shared that as a Jew, born in Jaffa to Holocaust survivors, he has the right to do his righteous work. It includes helping the needy and feeding the hungry, like Jesus instructed us. The place of Dugit is to serve the community and give a platform to those without a voice.
The enemy did not stand a chance.
Today, HaOgen Café can boast about their fair-trade coffee and sleek interior design, but that is not what sets them apart. It is the purpose behind its existence. As a social enterprise of Dugit, the coffee shop allocates a percentage of their proceeds to worthy causes, like the distribution center or a school for autistic children.
The Tel Aviv Expansion
While the development of HaOgen location has been a true miracle story, it was clear that it can house only one branch of the ministry. Leaders of Dugit decided to look for a larger space nearby for the congregation, prayer room and distribution center.
As they kept their eyes open to any adequate rental options, God raised their vision higher – literally. A building caught their attention, just a few blocks away from HaOgen Café, with vacant space on the 18th floor.
Yet again, by the grace of God, Dugit was able to overcome challenges seemingly too big. With support from Christians worldwide, Dugit moved into a new centralized location.
It became the address for Dugit offices, the VIP Prayer Tower, Adonai Roi congregation and even the distribution center!
For Avi, overcoming the limit to their ministry’s impact meant delegating responsibility. Through discipleship and godly relationships, Avi was able to invest in new young leaders that are making various aspects of Dugit work bloom.
Working Together for Greater Impact
The new lead pastors at Adonai Roi Congregation are Nate and Sara Silverman, who are passionate about the community of believers in Tel Aviv. They have a desire to strengthen the congregation through teaching the word of God, prayer, and developing strong relationships.
The HaOgen Café is managed by Argo who is also a pastor of an Ethiopian congregation. Needless to say, he loves people and deep conversations – a perfect combo for serving good coffee while engaging visitors with discussions about faith.
The Distribution Center is headed by a man with a powerful testimony that ministers to people trapped in addiction. David shares the love of Yeshua with everyone who enters their facility. He can often be found reading his Bible and having deep conversations with visitors.
The new leader of the VIP Prayer Tower is OrEl Mizrachi, a talented musician and worship leader. With a heart for the lost, her dream is to see the city of Tel Aviv transformed through worship and intercession.
Finally, one last extension of the ministry has been headed by Avi’s wife, Chaya. In cooperation with other ministries in the land, Chaya has been very active in women’s ministry. Their annual Bat Zion (Daughter of Zion) conferences are the largest gatherings for believing women in Israel.
For the Sake of the Gospel
The extensive ministry of Dugit continues to develop and respond to the needs of their community. They have remained faithful to the vision from the beginning. It is to share the gospel, make disciples, and pray without ceasing.
Do you know what Tel Aviv means? The city’s Hebrew name will leave you hopeful: Hill of Spring. It was used by the Hebrew translator Nahum Sokolov for the work of Jewish pioneer Theodor Herzl, in description of a dream – of the Jewish land.
Today, Dugit is bringing that name to life. The Hill of Spring is once again blooming, as the light of Jesus is shared across the whole metropolis.
“We just follow the vision God gave us and do it by God’s grace alone,” concludes Mizrachi.
This article originally appeared on FIRM, November 8, 2021, and reposted with permission.