Women of Israel rise like Deborah – House of Prayer in Nazareth
Arab and Jewish Women Join Hands in Nazareth to Shape History
The city of Nazareth is commonly associated, by both believers and nonbelievers, with the person of Jesus. The Messiah was often called ‘the Nazarene’ in his day. Once a little Jewish village in Galilee, today Nazareth is one of the bigger cities in the region and is the unofficial Arab capital of Israel.
Present Day Nazareth
Although the majority of the Arab residents of Nazareth are Muslim, there remains a small yet strong Christian population. Nazareth is known for its Basilica of the Annunciation, which commemorates the event of Archangel Gabriel appearing to young Mary, and the Protestant Christ Church – the second Anglican church built in the land, after Jerusalem.
Right next to these symbols of Nazareth’s noble past stands a people who look to the city’s future. The House of Prayer and Exploits (HOPE) in Nazareth is as unique and exciting as it sounds.
Founded by Rania Sayegh at the end of 2004, the HOPE training center has been reaching out to Arab young adults and Arab women to build a stronger believing community in the land. Their vision is to raise up and mobilize prayer warriors in Nazareth, and to train them to become intercessors and worshipers.
Mothers of the Land
But the vision of HOPE reaches beyond their Nazareth community – Rania and her team are partnering with Dugit, a messianic movement in Tel Aviv, to prepare the way of the Lord as mothers of the land.
This past April, HOPE and Dugit hosted over fifty Jewish and Arab mothers for “the Deborah’s Clan” gathering in Nazareth. The conference was named after the biblical prophetess who arose to lead an army to victory in a time of crisis. This national gathering is bringing a breakthrough to a land torn by conflicts and pain.
The spiritual mothers that attended the event are in various leadership roles and have great influence in the land of Israel. They arrived in Nazareth to connect with one another and with the Father’s heart for the Jewish and Arab people groups. Some of the mothers shared their personal stories on how the Holy Spirit changed their hearts toward each other, so they could be there together.
Prophetic Joining of Hands
The event culminated with a special expression of commitment for the Deborah’s Clan. As the Arab and Jewish women stood opposite of each other, they exchanged symbolic gifts to open the doors to a shared future.
The Arab mothers prepared necklaces for their Jewish counterparts that declared the powerful words of Ruth, who was a Gentile, to Naomi, her Jewish mother in law: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
Respectively, the Jewish mothers shared with their Arab sisters their heart’s desire to make them part of their family, akin to Naomi who called Ruth “my daughter”. They gave scarves to the Arab mothers, symbolizing a covering under the wings of the God of Israel, declaring the words of Boaz to Ruth: “May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge”. (Ruth 2:12)
HOPE: Living Out its Name
“This moment will be remembered in the book of history over both of our people,” wrote Rania, founder of HOPE. “Where hearts were melting and tears were flowing, we saw that God was forming His one family through the Deborahs of the land choosing to walk together in loyalty and love as Ruth and Naomi did.”
Through prayer as well as bold steps of faith, the House of Prayer in Nazareth is paving a new path that no one has walked before. History is being shaped before our eyes as these women of valor – mothers of the land – join hands to see God’s promises fulfilled.
This article originally appeared on FIRM and is reposted with permission.
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Estera Wieja, born and raised in Poland, moved to Israel in 2010. She is a journalist and in 2018 joined the staff of Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM) in Jerusalem.