South WEST family Church

Christians from Colac visit the J-comm

From the age of about eight or nine Pastor Chris Smith has had a love for Israel and the Jewish people.

Pastor Chris Smith (far right) with members of the South West Family Church in Colac visiting Golds.
Pastor Chris Smith (far right) with members of the South West Family Church in Colac visiting Golds.

Pastor Chris Smith from the South West Family Church in Colac, a small city in the Western District of Victoria, has a passion for Israel.

From the age of about eight or nine he has had a love for Israel and the Jewish people.

He said it stems from being a Christian and having Christian pastors that taught him the vital importance of the Jewish nation as to why they have a Bible and the connection.

It is not just from the past history of what’s in the Bible, but also the relevance of Israel and its role in the world, “and that it is still a major player if you like, in God’s plans,” Smith added. He has made five trips to Israel since 2017.

At the Sunday night service at the church over the last few months, he has taught about Bible prophecy as well what is important to the Jews.

What they believe; about the Torah and the Tanach; he talked about the things that are important to Jewish people.

“Some of the congregation did not know what a menorah or a mezuzah is,” he said.

Smith wanted to share his fervour with his parishioners so last week 18 of them filled a minibus and headed to Melbourne.

Their itinerary included visiting C Care; meeting Rabbi Nathanson at Toorak Shule, lunch at All Things Equal, shopping on Carlisle Street and then visiting Golds.

Vi Ganim, her husband and her 15-year-old daughter were on the bus. Ganim said, “All we knew [about Jewish people] is pretty much what Pastor Chris has been teaching the congregation over the last couple of months.

“The best thing anyone can do to understand anyone personally is to have that first person encounter,” she said. “We were so blessed to have this experience, to get to know Jewish people, get to know the Jewish culture and their practices and religion. How blessed were we?”

Ganim went on to explain the highlights of the day trip. “One was meeting one of the ladies in [Golds]. I had to take her aside to purchase something, and she was so touched by us being there.

She shared a story of her relative in the Holocaust. “I was just tearing up with the first Jewish person I met. I had that first person encounter of the trauma and experience.”

Meeting Rabbi Nathanson at Toorak Shule was another feature for Ganim and her family.

“We went home and shared our trip with the rest of our children, and with friends, because I want the Jewish community to know that we do care, and I want them to understand that it’s not all hate from everybody. They are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Leigh Barrett, also on the bus, said he had previously met quite a number of Jewish people in the course of his business.

“We got to know a Jewish family well whose son became friends with our sons. I am aware of what is happening in Israel and many of the people I know are strong supporters of Israel.”

He went on to acknowledge and thank Chris and Maree Smith for providing the opportunity to engage with and get to know and understand the Jewish community in Melbourne.

“I found the people we met to be open, friendly, warm and engaging, generous and outward looking, amazing when their community is under siege.

“I came away feeling really encouraged and intrigued with what the future will bring.”

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