Pastor David Davis, one of Israel’s senior Messianic leaders, has died. Davis was 79-years-old when he eventually succumbed following an intense battle with cancer over the past year. He is survived by his wife Karen and their two adopted sons.
Messianic leaders from across Israel and around the world are flooding social media with expressions of love and appreciation for their deceased friend. During his 25 years of ministry in Israel, David gained the respect of many Messianic leaders in a land where building Messianic communities does not come easy. His sympathetic, yet bold leadership style, his willingness to encourage up-and-coming leaders, and his passion for unity in the body of Messiah were admired, even by those who were skeptical that an American Christian could have any significant impact on the lives of Arabs and Jews in Israel. Myself included.
I remember well the first time I met Pastor David when he arrived in Israel in the 1980’s. He had been sent out by David Wilkerson and the Times Square Church in New York, with a vision to lead Arab and Jewish drug addicts to Christ. “Arabs and Jews?” I asked him. “Together?”
I was skeptical, until David asked me to teach a Bible study with the small group of recovering addicts he had assembled. They didn’t want fancy words or theological spin. Just Jesus, because these recovering Jewish and Arab addicts knew more than most that it was him who had brought them back to life, and taught them that Arab and Jew can live together, belong together.
David’s passion for the lost inspired many Arab Christians and Messianic Jews across the country to reach out to drug addicts. After seeing the power of God working in the lives of those broken men, I also began an inner city ministry to drug addicts in Tel Aviv.
David was the founding pastor of Kehilat HaCarmel (Carmel Assembly) on Mount Carmel, a congregation that began in 1991 as a Bible study for men recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. It was during these days that a great wave of Russian Jews were returning to their ancient homeland under a bombardment of SCUD missiles from Iraqi’s dictator, Saddam Hussein. Not to be deterred, and inspired by David’s bold leadership, a community of Arab and Jewish believers emerged, reaching people of all backgrounds through ministries that continue until today, such as the House of Victory Rehab Center, the Or HaCarmel women’s shelter, Raven’s Basket feeding program, and Elijah’s Cloak clothing center.
Dr. David Davis was the Chairman of the Division of Arts of Fordham University at Lincoln Center, New York City, while also working as a professional actor on Broadway, off-Broadway and on television. In the mid-80’s, in the midst of a successful acting career, he had a dramatic encounter with Jesus during a revival among performing artists in New York, where he also met his Jewish wife, Karen.
He was soon called into ministry and began working with addicts and homeless people under the mentoring of David Wilkerson at Times Square Church, NYC. In 1989, the David and Karen immigrated and became citizens of Israel. In his book, “The Road to Carmel,” Davis chronicles his journey from the world of show business on Broadway to the mountains of Israel.
“I still remember David’s words of encouragement and his prayers,” said Zvi Randelman, a Messianic Jewish pastor from Jerusalem. “He had a father’s heart for the lost, the addicted, the desperate. He was instrumental in the establishment of Beit Hayeshua, a ministry to drug addicts we began in Jerusalem. Countless drug addicts and alcoholics owe their lives to David’s work of love and inspiration. Now David is in heaven with the Lord, and I am sure that when he entered into the presence of Yeshua, he heard the words “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”