It all began in 1994, when Mike Hostetler came to Nazareth as a film producer that worked for the Mennonite Missionary Society to produce a film about a Jewish soldier that was stabbed in the city and that his life was rescued in a Christian hospital (The Nazareth Hospital, which was established by the Edinburgh Medical Mission Society) by a Muslim surgeon.
During his stay, Mike met Dr. Nakhle Bishara, the Medical Director of the Nazareth Hospital. Dr. Bishara shared with Mike his dream to establish a living museum in the home town of Jesus. Mike got immediately excited with the dream and asked Dr. Bishara?s consent to pursue the issue. The next few years were used by Mike to win people from Nazareth and abroad for this vision.
Few years later, a steering committee of people from Nazareth and abroad was established. Under the leadership of Mike, the steering committee conducted a feasibility study and agreed with the Edinburgh Mission society to use the land adjunct to the Nazareth Hospital for the project. The name ?Nazareth Village? was chosen. The former president of the United States Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn agreed to be the honorary chairs of the organization formed for fundraising in the USA.
In 1998, a genuine first century wine press and watchtowers were found on the land allocated for the Nazareth village.
In 1999, work started in building terraces and replica houses of the first century and also a synagogue ? buildings that were built according to first century techniques and structures by scholar Steven Fann and Nazarene architect Riyad Haddad. Besides the work on the land, a museum was built telling the story of Nazareth through the ages, methods of crucifixion and the a display and explanation of the carpenter shop that Jesus worked in with Joseph ?all in the building rented from the YMCA.
Mike continued leading the Nazareth village in its unique ministry also after the Village opened its doors in the 15th of June 2000.The uprising in the West Bank and the decline of tourists to Israel made it difficult for Nazareth village to continue its ministry. Mike was always full of faith and encouraging to keep holding the torch. His zeal for the project and the endless tireless hours were an inspiration for the devoted staff that got their salaries in a delay of 3-4 months.
Mike, his wife Ginny, son Stefan and daughter Sophia became part of the people of Nazareth. Genny supported Mike, helped with public relation work for the Nazareth Hospital, training guides in the Nazareth village and helped in different ministries throughout Galilee. The Hostetlers decided to leave Nazareth as their children are in college age and the Hostetlers wanted to be close to them in this new phase of their lives.
As for Mike, he will continue to work for promoting Nazareth Village in North America. The family wishes to return to Nazareth in a couple of years to continue the good work that God has started through them and others in the hometown of Jesus.
To learn more about President Jimmy Carter visit to Nazareth Village
Read also how Director of Nazareth Village receives award from the Alumni Association of Eastern Mennonite University
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