Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Legacy of Ron Nachman

Ron Nachman passed away last week.  He was a friend of mine.  No, he was more than that.  He was a dear friend of mine.  If you did not know Ron, I’d like to introduce you to him.

Ron was a visionary.  Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  By implication, where there is vision, the people thrive.  In 1978 Ron pitched two tents in the barren Judean hills.  That was the beginning of Ron’s vision of the city of Ariel.  Like Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Ron suffered mockery and opposition to his dream.  He would stand on the hilltop and described the vision embedded not only in his mind, but in his heart.  And the people would tell him he was foolish, reckless, and crazy.

He was a young man back in 1978 and at the midpoint of his life.  From the age of 35, Ariel was his dream, his burden, and his goal.  He chose to develop Ariel deep into the territory away from the Green Line.  And he was determined to build a city there that was unrivaled for a city of its size in Israel.  Though he formally staked his two tents in the middle of a barren region, he had plans that were far bigger than two tents.  Instead of hoping for new residents to dribble into his experiment, he approached large groups of people to join with him.  In effect, he drew entire communities of people – initially some 6,000 – so that Ariel would not be built as a disjointed collection of desert homes with a cobbled infrastructure, but rather, a place where the essentials of a city could be well planned for the moment and the future.

Today the population of Ariel is 20,000.  It is a regional center for surrounding communities.  Ron would never settle for average or anything else that was less than the best.  I am proud to have assisted Ron on many occasions to help his dream come true.  I am proud to sit on the board of Ariel University, the first accredited Israeli university in the West Bank and an institution that only Ron could see through the dust of the desert in 1978.  It was as real in his mind back then as it is for the students who walk its campus today.

A critical interviewer asked Ron, “How can you build in Occupied East Jerusalem?”  To which he replied, “I just came from my hotel room, where I searched for proof that this land belongs to the British.  I found a Bible there, but it made no mention of London.  It didn’t speak of Washington, DC, or Paris or Berlin.  But do you know how many times the word ‘Jerusalem’ appeared?  And you are asking me if we have rights to our capital city?”

In a later conversation Ron posed the question, “If this land was given to us by God, how can we be considered trespassers?”  His question is legitimate.  If God has given us something, who has the right to consider our gift invalid?  Ron’s vision, and that of all Zionists, was to possess the land was given to Israel by Jehovah God Himself.  The Jews are not interlopers; they are inheritors.  They are not claim-jumpers; they are the children of the Most High God.

As we mourn the passing of this great man, would you also join me in giving the Lord thanks for how he used Ron as an instrument to accomplish His will?  Of course, you know that I am going to ask you to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. (Psalm 122:6)  I always will.  But, if I may, I would like to ask you to pray for the next generation of young people in Israel, like those who are students at Ariel University.  Please pray that they will have a Ron Nachman kind of vision for building the nation of Israel and that they would not sell their birthright for a mess of pottage.

Your ambassador to Jerusalem,
Dr. Mike Evans

Source material for this article can be found at the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Press, and CBN News.

No comments:

Post a Comment