A DREAM COME TRUE
Ask Israeli travellers, “What’s your favourite town to hang out in the South Island?” and one answer will prevail over all others: “Wanaka!”
For years, we at Celebrate Messiah NZ entreated God to enable us to have a stronger presence in the most prominent Israeli enclave in New Zealand: the Wanaka/Queenstown region. This resort area, located in the middle of the South Island, is famous for its Middle Earth vistas, world class hikes, extreme sports, skiing and snowboarding, bunging jumping, sky diving – you name it; it’s all there, including hundreds of Israeli travellers any day of the week during the warm months. And when young Israelis come to this region, they typically stay for days or even weeks, simply because there’s so much to see and do. Their extended stay means more opportunities for building relationships and for engaging in spiritual conversations.
Bottom line: Wanaka/Queenstown is kind of like NZ’s Jerusalem or New York City when it comes to Jewish evangelism! But here’s the problem: There is only a handful of households hosting Israeli travellers in the entire region, and there is virtually no intentional Jewish evangelism happening there other than our occasional outreaches.
So we dreamed.
We imagined a facility located in Wanaka that was specifically geared toward Israeli travellers and providing accommodation for groups of Israeli guests. We dreamed of having a place where Jewish-oriented Bible studies and Jewish holiday/holy day celebrations would be woven into the fabric of the daily routine, and trained staff would be alert to evangelistic opportunities among our precious Israeli guests.
We also imagined this facility being used to train Christians in the Jewish roots of our faith as well as the fundamentals of intentional disciple-making. And the dream didn’t end there, because a ministry centre in Wanaka would place our staff only minutes away from one of the largest backpacker enclaves in New Zealand, where we could engage in regular, ongoing outreach.
You’ve got to admit: As dreams go, this is one of the best when it comes to Jewish evangelism in New Zealand. But Wanaka is one of NZ’s most popular resort areas, so property values are inflated far beyond the prospect of affordability for our little non-profit mission agency. Humanly speaking, it simply wasn’t reasonable for us to dream about owning or even renting a facility in Wanaka or Queenstown.
Are you aware that, with the endorsement of heaven, dreams really do come true?
That’s right: God has made this dream a reality by giving CMNZ a lovely little lodge located just minutes from the centre of Wanaka. It provides accommodation for 34 guests with a well equipped kitchen, a dining area and a large, comfortable lounge. The property also includes a 3-bedroom manager’s residence.
We’re calling our new Israeli backpacker, the Zula Lodge. “Zula” is a term used in Israel to describe a place where you gather with your best friends. We want our Zula to be a warm and inviting gathering place for Israelis in New Zealand.
The Zula opened its doors in May, 2015 and hosted more than 700 young Israelis during the following summer season, providing three free nights and low-cost accommodation thereafter for guests. The lodge was booked solid for weeks in advance, and became so popular that, sadly, we had to turn hundreds away.
Nevertheless, the Israeli believers who staffed the Zula had countless opportunities to speak of their Messiah, Yeshua, and to demonstrate His love through sacrificial service. This is a critical component in our ministry, because when young Israelis encounter other young Israelis who are passionate about Yeshua, it makes a powerful impact on their hearts.
Join us in praising and thanking God for this unspeakable gift! What a joy to have a place where we can freely share the love of God with His own Chosen People!
If/when you’re in the Wanaka area, be sure to ring us. If our staff are available, they would love to show you a dream come true!