Association in the Holy Land serves 3,000 believers

Turaan is not famous like many other towns in Israel. It is not directly mentioned in the Bible like its neighbors Nazareth or Cana of Galilee, but scholars and locals are certain Jesus passed through this village in his many trips between Nazareth and Capernaum.

According to tradition, Turaan is the location where Jesus’ disciples plucked grain on the Sabbath. Today it is mainly a Muslim town with a minority Christian population.

A small Baptist church was planted in Turaan in the late 1950s. The church opened the first day care center in the history of the town. Pastor Suheil Ramadan, who served as pastor of the church between 1972 and 2003, and his wife, Fida, were pioneers in building relationships with Messianic believers in the area.

When Jewish extremists burned the meeting place of the Messianic fellowship in Tiberius in the late 1980s, it was Turaan Baptist church that welcomed these believers to meet in their church until they found a better place. The Ramadans also were instrumental in planting a church in the nearby village of Eilaboun.

Faithful lay members

After the passing of Pastor Ramadan, the church went through difficulties, but faithful lay members continued to pastor the flock.

Two years ago a young, energetic pastor was introduced to the church. Ziad Farraj and the church have been growing ever since. The main service is fully attended, a youth meeting has restarted and 100 kids attended Vacation Bible School (VBS) last year.

People are growing in their faith and the church is receiving recognition in the community.
The growth of the church is mainly because of the grace of God, said Bader Mansour, development officer for the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel (ABC), an 18-church association serving a community of 3,000 believers. The vision of the ABC is to spread the good news of the gospel, to strengthen the Christian presence in the Holy Land, to support missions work in the region and to develop trust and cooperation between congregations by sponsoring common ministries in the community.

Baptist ministry

Baptist ministry in the Holy Land began in 1911. Southern Baptists supported the work from 1923 until 1991, when the ABC became the umbrella organization for Baptist churches and ministries throughout the Holy Land.

The Turaan church is just one example of how the ABC is continuing the more than 100-year legacy of Baptists in the region, Mansour said. That legacy includes seminary education opportunities for local ministers, support for congregations looking for a pastor and coordination of volunteers and funding for summer VBS programs.

Farraj received his divinity degree at Nazareth Evangelical College while working full time as a special education teacher — the only way he could finish his theological education. Turaan Baptist Church also received a new playground, funded and built by a team from a church in the United States that had a vision to help churches around the world install playgrounds. With help from an ABC loan program, Turaan turned its parsonage into a guest house, which now has the potential to provide income for church ministries as people traveling in Galilee stay there.

Mansour said all this would not be possible without worldwide partners who support the gospel mission of the ABC to help “churches like Turaan as they fulfill their calling.” (TAB)

For more information about the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel, go to