For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.
"One night after a performance on Broadway I went home and a thought came to me, ‘My life doesn't mean anything!' I knew I was lost and my life truly didn't mean anything."
This startling revelation seemed almost impossible for a man who had accomplished what David Davis had in a lifetime of successes. He was a good enough athlete to play football for the Far East Navy-Marine All Star Team and later at Wake Forest University. When an injury took athletics away from David, he turned to acting and, once again, succeeded beyond what he could have imagined. His life was a showcase of not just accomplishing his goals, but prevailing over them. What could he possibly have meant by thinking, "My life didn't mean anything!"?
David grew up near Washington, D.C. and went to Catholic grade school. "I believed that Jesus was the Son of God, but I did not know Him. In fact, I did not know that you could know Him, and knew nothing about the Bible." By the time he was a teenager, David "no longer participated in the Catholic Church." When David became interested in theater he acted in several plays and his talent, interest and dedication to developing his skills further led him to completing his MA in Theater at the University of Maryland, and his PhD in Theater Studies from Wayne State University. David spent the next two plus decades teaching theater at the college and university levels, with his final stop being Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York City.
"For eighteen years I was the Chairman of the Division of Arts of Fordham University at Lincoln Center, New York City. I also continued in my acting career on Broadway, off-Broadway and TV." As good an opportunity as the New York theater community provided for him to use his acting talent and skills, it turned out that there was an even greater purpose for his being there. One night at the very height of his acting career, he was overwhelmed by the sense that his life didn't mean anything. "I started to cry, and I knew I was lost."
David began his search for God by going to several different churches. After some time an actor friend of his told him about a fellowship of actors, dancers, singers and models. They met in a recording studio in Times Square. He invited David to a meeting. They walked through the darkness and degradation of 41st street, then nick-named "Crack Alley."
"My friend led me up some stairs to an upper room, where a meeting was in session. People of different races were singing about Jesus. The worship was beautiful, wonderful. As I stood there all of a sudden I could not stand up and fell on my knees. It was like a hand had come upon me. I could not stop weeping. Then, I met Jesus. I poured out my heart to Him and asked Him to forgive me for my sinful life. To my amazement, He forgave me! It was like a huge weight was lifted off me! As I finally stumbled into a chair, I looked around the room at the worshipping brothers and sisters and I knew I had come home. I had a new family of African-Americans, Jews, Gentiles, Asians. It was overwhelming. My whole life changed. I started going to all the meetings there. I devoured the Bible. I felt robbed, because no one had told me it was God's Word. The words of Jesus imparted life to my hungry heart."
That night David found the Christ who had been waiting patiently for him to open the door and let Him in. Now, he was going to use the brilliant mind that memorized the Shakespearean roles of both Othello and Iago … the energy of an athlete … and the talent of an actor … to serve the kingdom of heaven. And, God was going to provide a special source of help in this work.
"I fell in love with Karen, a young lady on the worship team in the fellowship that met in the recording studio, and we were soon married. Karen is Jewish and I am not. We began to realize that we were examples of the ‘one new man' of Jew and Gentile referred to in Ephesians 2:15 and 2:22, ‘being built together for a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.'"
The search for the right church ended when David and Karen walked into Times Square Church. David Wilkerson, minister and author of The Cross and the Switchblade, had been called by God to leave his small town ministry in Pennsylvania to work with the gangs of New York. Karen worked in Pastor Wilkerson's office and sang with the worship team. David began doing street evangelism. Eventually, he was ordained a minister of the gospel with World Challenge Ministries' Fellowship "in the magnificent Mark Hellinger Theater, where I had attended the Broadway Tony Awards some years earlier." The theater of yesteryear was now the home of Wilkerson's Times Square Church.
"I no longer had any desire to train aspiring actors or teach theater history. I now had a burning passion to share the gospel with the lost. So, I resigned my position as tenured full professor at Fordham University."
When David first found the Lord, he went to Israel for two weeks. While he was in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem, an Arab woman asked David to pray for her healing from breast cancer. He did. The next day a Christian nurse called him to tell him the woman was healed. That healing was later to lead to an event in David's life that, at the time, he could have never anticipated. It happened on David and Karen's first trip to Israel together.
"As my Jewish wife saw the Land of Israel for the first time she began to weep. She said, ‘I've come home!'
They had lunch with the Arab woman who had been healed on the earlier trip. She told them about the drug epidemic among the Jews and Arabs in the Old City, close to where Jesus was crucified! "Then my friend looked at me and said, ‘David, can you bring your ministry here?' It was a "Macedonian call" like the man from Macedonia who appeared to the apostle Paul and pleaded with him, saying "Come over and help us."
David and Karen knew they had heard the call of the Lord through their Arab friend. They began to realize that God was calling them to raise up a rehabilitation center for both Arabs and Jews, as a testimony of the "one new man."
"After praying and preparing for a year, we left everything and moved to Israel in 1989. Many of my theater friends and former students did not understand. But when you hear the call of God you must obey, otherwise you will miss the destiny He has prepared for you."
Today David is the Founder and Senior Pastor of Carmel Congregation, and has oversight of various ministries to Jews and Arabs at different locations in Haifa on Mount Carmel. David and Karen also founded House of Victory in 1991, the first Bible-based residential rehabilitation center for Jews and Arabs in Israel. In addition, they have helped plant three other congregations for Jews, Arabs and Lebanese. They have a thriving food and clothing distribution center, "Elijah's Cloak", in downtown Haifa.
Carmel Congregation has built a worship center on the highest point of Mount Carmel, on land donated by the Anglican Church's Ministry to the Jews (CMJ). On the same property they now house a women's shelter for African refugees, mostly single mothers and children and orphans from Sudan and Eritrea. And, "we have survived three wars, including missiles from Saddam Hussein and Hizballah."
The congregation creates and puts on musical productions of Biblical feasts such as Passover, Purim and Ruth. So David still has his hand in theater, but it's now for God's glory.
"It's amazing and humbling to serve the Lord in Israel in these prophetic days. More Jews and Arabs have come to the Lord in the last twenty years than any time since the Book of Acts!"
David Davis … from the heart of entertainment to the heart of God.
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