Some of us may know him from the congregation Tents of Mercy, some of us see his posts in the Israeli Messianic group on Facebook, and some of us have heard a song from his album “Bou Elav” [Come to Him].
So who is Eli Haytov?
Haitov was born in 1996, a member of the Bukharan community in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan of the former Soviet Union. He immigrated to Israel when he was 7 months. He has two sisters, Rachel, 21, and Michal, 18. Today the family lives in the northern city of Kiryat Motzkin.
Haitov grew up in a Messianic home. His father, Albert, used to read stories from the Bible everyday before bed. Haitov always knew that Yeshua was the Messiah, but faith was not something personal and sincere in his life. His faith came down to going to the congregational meetings on Saturday mornings and quoting verses he memorized, a life many of us can relate to as well.
At the age of 13, Haitov joined the youth group and became more interested in his faith. He began to read the New Testament, and when he reached the beginning of the sermon on the mount, starting from Matthew 5, with Yeshua speaking to his disciples, something happened in Haitov’s heart. Haitov felt that the way he was living his life was far from being worthy and right before God. He realized that he did not really have a relationship with God, but that he was doing God “a favor” and he was content, to be truthful, until that moment. Haitov realized that he could not rely on himself just because he’s a good person, but that he really needed God, true forgiveness and a relationship with Him.
A few weeks later, during Passover of 2010, he participated in a Messianic youth conference themed “Meditate on Him.” One evening while the counselors were praying for the youth, Eli felt that God was calling him to go to one of the counselors for prayer. Haitov took the step, prayed to receive the Lord in his life and since then, his life has been changed. He began to experience God in a real and personal way. In the first few weeks he would shut himself up in his room, reading and feeding on the Word of God. Haitov stopped going with the flow of his friends’ “nonsense” and began to set personal limits.
Haitov said one friend even stopped speaking to him because of his faith, but on the other hand, many others were interested, and this gave him the opportunity to share his faith with them. God even used Haitov to minister to one of his friends, to keep praying for her salvation, and guess what? She was saved!
Atheism, apologetics, and Haitov among them
Shortly after he began to follow the Lord, he encountered questions that came up about the faith. Messianics live in an unfriendly environment. Haitov was assisted by one of his teachers, A., from the Shabbat school in the congregation – someone he considers a spiritual father. A. would guide him and help him in difficult times. But there was a moment when everything changed. Haitov discovered that at a certain point A. left the Messianic faith and became an atheist (atheism – a position or belief that there are no divine beings). Haitov was shocked that his mentor suddenly claimed that God does not exist and that his faith was a lie.
Haitov did not know how to continue from this point. He spoke to A., tried to understand and even wanted, with the help of God, to motivate him, bringing him back to faith in Yeshua the Messiah. A. made many claims against faith in the Messiah and God in general, which caused confusion and doubt in Haitov. However, because of Haitov’s personal relationship with Yeshua, he knew that something was not right in these arguments. God was so real in his life that he knew there was no chance that anything from what A. was saying was true.
What Haitov did understand was that he did not have the tools and the arguments against the atheistic opinion, and from that point he became interested in apologetics. Haitov began to explore the basis of faith, and was surprised to discover that there were really good reasons to believe in God in general and in Yeshua in particular. Haitov discovered that the arguments he that A. made were baseless, groundless. Haitov studied so much that he found himself talking to atheists about the existence of God, in order that they may know the Messiah and choose the Messianic faith.
Then at period in his life Haitov started singing and writing music.
“It all started with my older sister Rachel,” Haitov said. “She was the first in our family to start playing the keyboard. I saw that she was really successful and that my parents were encouraging and complimenting her on her playing, which caused me to envy her, to be truthful. And so at the age of 4, I asked my parents if I could start learning to play. I play the keyboard, piano and a little bit on the guitar. I really loved music and felt that it filled me, that I was fulfilling my purpose through music, especially in playing the piano.”
The first time he performed in front of people was when he was 4 years old, in a nursing home. After that, he participated in concerts and competitions. When he was 13 years old he was filmed for TV on Channel 1 as a part of a national competition called “Maestro.”
“I felt pressure and excitement, but because of habit, all that was left was to enjoy it,” he said.
In addition to his music lessons, Haitov would travel from Kiryat Motzkin to Haifa to study music theory. He always felt he could improve. He was also an inspiration to others – after he appeared on television and won third place in the competition one of his good friends started learning to play the piano, following in his footsteps.
Haitov composed melodies, saving the songs in a drawer and recording on his cell phone so he wouldn’t forget how to sing them. He wrote songs inspired by his spiritual walk, every challenge and obstacle he went through, the questions he had for God, and thanksgiving, all coming through the lyrics and melody.
One of his desires is to enrich Messiah worship music in Israel, so he joined a worship team in his congregation. Thanks to the Ashira (I will sing) Project, Haitov fulfilled this wish. The Ashira Project was founded and is managed by Eli Ben Moshe, producer of Israeli Messianic praise. Free of charge both to the performer/composer and the listener, the vision is to see as much Messianic music recorded and accessible.
Haitov compiled all the songs he wrote over the years together with his sister Rachel, and through the project they created the album “Bou Elav.”
Haitov now serves in the IDF as a combat medic in the search and rescue unit, a position he specifically requested. Haitov loves to travel around the country, visiting different sights. He loves food, hanging out with friends, watching movies, reading and researching apologetics.
Haitov’s favorite Bible verse is, “But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“Recently this verse has been quite relevant to me,” Haitov says. “The army can be a physically and emotionally tiring place, and, according to this verse, one who hopes and believes in the Lord, He will renew his strength.”
Let us pray for Haitov to be salt and light for those who surround him and that his relationship with Yeshua will be expressed in his daily life. Pray that God will draw into Haitov’s path the people who need to hear about the Lord. And pray that musically, Haitov will come up with new material and will inspire young artists.