for release Friday December 10, 2004
by Melodie Davis
Radio Programs Straight From Jesus’ Hometown
What was one of your joys during this past year? What was the best part of your year, with family, on the job, church or community? At Christmas and the end of the year, we look back and reminisce, as well as celebrate the holidays and look ahead.
One of my joys and challenges at work was collaborating across 6000 miles with a man named Ya’akov Dolinsky, a Russian-born Messianic Jew tour guide at Nazareth Village, a “living museum” recreating the life and times of Jesus’ boyhood hometown of Nazareth, Israel. Ya’akov used to be an atheist, in spite of his Jewish ethnicity. We were working on some new radio programs in English for broadcast in North America, but it is his second or third language. So while he supplied the original content and ideas for the spots, I edited them for clarity, style and English usage. We communicated mostly by e-mail but with an occasional phone call and it always felt really special to pick up the phone and know I was connected with the hometown of Jesus.
At times I thought, here we are collaborating across 6000 miles about someone who lived over 2000 years ago, with a message that is as relevant as the evening news. Or the latest news bulletin on the Internet.
Two years ago right before Christmas I wrote in Another Way about Nazareth Village and the ministry of D. Michael and Virginia Hostetler there. The Village was actually the long time dream of Dr. Nakhle Bishara, a medical doctor and native of Nazareth whose family has lived in Nazareth for nine generations. He dreamed of a place where local Christians and international visitors, who flock to the Holy Land, could see land preserved in the natural way it would have looked when Jesus was there.
Last year, in a visit to our office, Michael introduced our staff to the special insights and stories that Ya’akov shares in his tours at Nazareth Village, on a simple computer recording. Michael said, “Wouldn’t it be neat to share these stories by way of a radio program …” and so I have been working during the last year to make that happen. “We can bring Nazareth Village to hundreds of thousands of people in North America who would love to walk where Jesus walked but will never be able to visit there,” Mike said enthusiastically. The result is 15 short Christmas radio programs called “Postcards From Nazareth” featuring Ya’akov’s stories, and two longer, 30-minute Christmas specials for airing Christmas Eve and Christmas Day featuring his stories and classic Mennonite a cappella Christmas music.
Those radio programs that Michael dreamed about, Ya’akov sweated over in writing the scripts, and eventually engineers, producers and musicians here in the U.S. put together, are now available for you to listen to or read on the Internet and, I hope, hear, in some of your communities this Christmas on the radio. (Find them at www.postcardsfromnazareth.com) We have made them available for businesses or churches to sponsor on local radio stations (e-mail me if you are interested in that). The programs are alive with the sounds of sheep baaing, (all real from Nazareth), doves cooing, goats and donkeys braying, and people walking those ancient and dusty, rocky paths.
Ya’akov says that seeing the settings where Jesus lived and taught have helped him understand so many of the Biblical stories and parables, such as the story Jesus tells of the “Parable of the Tares.” (This one is not in the Christmas radio series for obvious reasons.) In this story an enemy plants weeds, or “tares,” in with wheat. The farmer tells his servants not to worry, that when the harvest is ripe, it will be easy to spot and remove the weeds. Why? When Ya’akov was leading a group of tourists, he noticed how the wheat, when the wheat grains were ripe and full, hung over, weighing down the whole stem—leaving the tares standing straight up and easy to spot and tear out. This leads to the obvious moral of Jesus’ story: how “bad stalks” show themselves over time.
Without traveling back in time, or traveling 6000 miles, this brings us closer to the reality we celebrate at Christmas: that Jesus was a real baby, born in a real town, and grew up as a little boy in a special place we can know about (and visit if we’re lucky). Better than that, we can know the joy of Christ’s birth all year as we trust and follow him.
For a free Christmas gift from Another Way, write for a special booklet featuring all of the scripture passages in the New Testament that reference “Nazareth” in some way, published and donated by a woman in Scotland who wishes to be identified only as “a friend of Nazareth Village.” Ask for the free “Jesus of Nazareth” scripture booklet and indicate what paper you read this in.
Send to: Melodie Davis, Another Way, Box 22, Harrisonburg VA 22802 or e-mail email@example.com (Please include your paper's name in your response.)
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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