I just returned from a visit to Israel and I am still trying to absorb all that I saw and experienced. It has been over eleven years since I have made such an in depth visit to the communities in Judea and Samaria. WOW!! I was so encouraged to see all of the growth and progress that has taken place over the past ten years. I can only compare it to that feeling you get when you see your friends’ children after a long absence. You know that they have grown, and you’ve seen pictures of them each year, and received updates through letters or email, but when you actually see them, you are still amazed by how much they have changed!
In some ways, ten years isn’t that long, but there is an amazing difference between communities that are 20 years old and those that have been around for 30+ years. In almost every community I visited there was a common theme, that of the second generation returning to the community, with their spouse and children. This natural growth shows a healthy environment and a prospering country.
I have so many stories of the people I met and their deep appreciation for your support through Christian Friends of Israeli Communities. I will be sharing them with you over the next few months, so you too can appreciate and understand the impact we are making in Israel.
In Shani Livneh, Etti showed me the library and the playground that we supported and she told me how people are there, enjoying them, every single day. The children are now able to come to the library twice a week for story hour and it has improved their literacy rates. The school-aged children find resource material for school projects and adults come for education and recreation. The library has become a social highlight, whether people come to find a novel for entertainment, a resource book, or story time for their toddler. Adults are meeting each other and end up visiting with their neighbors. It has become a central hub of information for the entire community.
In Emanuel, I visited the brand new after-school program that has been made possible through your donations. As I heard the stories of children suffering from learning disabilities compounded by intense poverty, my heart broke for these children. Some of the families struggle to have basic necessities, so paying for specialized therapy is completely out of the question. As I spoke with the director of the program, she had this immense smile on her face and excitement because she was able to make a difference and really help these children. She told me how on the very first day when it was time to go home, not one single child wanted the day to be over, they had found someone who was able to listen to them, and help them overcome the difficulties they had struggled with for so long. They found hope and healing and someone who cared.
I have so many more stories to share with you in the comng months, but the main thing that I want to share with you now is how much you are helping. Every time you give to CFOIC Heartland you are reaching out and touching lives. You are making a difference; you are changing the future of Israel.
Children of all ages, those with special needs, learning disabilities, teens, young parents, married couples, and even the elderly are all benefitting from projects that CFOIC Heartland funds in their communities. The access they have to playgrounds, libraries, therapy, ambulances, and so much more is made possible because you care about them and you care about the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. So often I’ve said how important it is to strengthen Biblical Israel by investing in the communities and the people, but this time I really saw the fruit of your investment. So many lives are being changed because they have you for a friend!
I know that we are living during difficult times and you have to carefully choose where each dollar gets spent in your budget. Through CFOIC Heartland you are giving to those who are boycotted by so many simply because of where they live. Your gifts are helping those who are hurting; it is making life easier and helping them fulfill the commandment to inherit the land. As you think about where you will give during the next couple of months, prayerfully consider donating to CFOIC Heartland so that we can continue changing lives and building Biblical Israel.
Director, US Office