75 Years of Moving Forward
Our mission at The Friends of Israel is focused. We are a worldwide Christian ministry communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people. Here are some milestones:
- 1938—The Friends of Israel Refugee Relief Committee is founded in response to Hitler’s war on the Jews of Europe.
- 1942—Israel My Glory magazine is introduced as a 16-page, small-sized publication with a subscription rate of 50 cents per year. Its emphasis laid the foundation for its present status as a major Christian publication read by about half a million people.
- 1943—Victor Buksbazen becomes general secretary.
- 1944—Material aid for suffering Holocaust victims is accelerated. One thousand Jewish refugees, brought to Oswego, New York, by President Franklin Roosevelt, are met a day later by Victor and his wife, Lydia. Wrote Victor, “How ragged and dejected they were is hard to imagine. Immediately we went shopping in Oswego for shoes, underwear, and outer garments of all sizes and brought one taxi load after another carrying the most urgent items….How grateful they were.”
- 1945—At war’s end, we become the first Jewish ministry to enter Warsaw, Poland, to aid Jewish survivors.
- 1946—Among the refugees aided and mentored by Dr. Buksbazen personally is a young survivor, Zvi Kalisher. In fact, Victor became so dear to him that Zvi named his firstborn son Victor. Today Zvi is known and loved by thousands as The Friends of Israel’s man in Jerusalem.
- 1947—Halina Ostik joins the mission at Dr. Buksbazen’s invitation. Victor knew her when she was a child in Poland. During World War II, she served as a lieutenant in the Polish Home Army and distinguished member of the resistance, rescuing Jewish people from the Nazis. Halina directed the establishment of our dynamic Polish ministry.
- 1948—FOI moves into Israel with material aid and assistance workers.
- 1948–1958—FOI experiences accelerated growth with the addition of workers and opens new fields of service.
- 1958—Filming of Lydia Buksbazen’s bestselling book, They Looked for a City, begins.
- 1960—Extensive ministry to churches begins. FOI’s teaching ministry and its work providing materials on Israel, the Jewish people, anti-Semitism, and prophetic truth grow into an integral element of FOI’s outreach.
- 1970—The ministry headquarters moves from Philadelphia to Collingswood, New Jersey.
- 1972—Victor’s extraordinary works—The Prophet Isaiah, The Gospel in the Feasts of Israel, and his masterful exposition of Isaiah 53—become major legacies of his scholarship.
- 1973—Dr. Busksbazen retires, and Marvin Rosenthal becomes executive director.
- 1974—The organization’s name becomes The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.
- 1984—The mission purchases 138 acres in Deptford, New Jersey, to develop as a permanent home.
- 1986—The Institute of Biblical Studies (later called the Institute of Jewish Studies) is launched. It has since evolved from a confined campus location to an international, online school providing education and training worldwide.
- 1989—Elwood McQuaid is appointed executive director.
- 1991—FOI radio broadcasts, hosted by Elwood, debut on six stations. They later are picked up by more than 500 outlets, as well as international satellite.
- 1994—A spacious medical facility is purchased for The Friends of Israel Medical Clinic in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Today our clinic provides top-notch, free care around the clock.
- 2001—William (Bill) Sutter is named executive director.
- 2004—Relations with Israeli and U.S. Jewish organizations are greatly enhanced.
- 2009, 2012—ORIGINS and Hesed, two volunteer ministries in Israel, are introduced.
- 2012—James (Jim) Showers is named executive director.
- 2013—A state-of-the-art website (www.foi.org), accompanied by ever-expanding technological advances to reach people all over the world, opens new vistas that could never have been envisioned by our founders and early leaders. Seventy-five fruitful years on the cutting edge of ministry assures that The Friends of Israel is keeping pace with the biblical and spiritual mandate to reach the world with the good news of the Messiah.