Open Doors for FOI
Anyone want to go Cruizin’ for Zion? Here’s a look at some exciting Friends of Israel ministries in North America and abroad.
LARRY is a lover of Israel and the Jewish people. He is also a longtime friend. I met him and his wife, Lori, many years ago when we moved to Chicago. He approached me about The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry’s Up to Jerusalem Israel tour after he read an ad in Israel My Glory magazine.
Resources for research were limited back then. A website was a hotel for spiders, facebook was a picture of a face on a book, and google was what your eyes did when they saw something weird. So all Larry knew about The Friends of Israel (FOI) was that it employed a guy named Steve Herzig and published a magazine every other month.
But Larry and Lori took the plunge anyway and went Up to Jerusalem with FOI. When they returned, I asked how the trip was. In his dry way, Larry replied, “Herzig, with only you to go by, I thought FOI was small potatoes. But this trip showed me it’s much more. What an amazing organization you have. By the way, the trip was fantastic.”
I learned an important lesson from the experience: Not all our constituents understand the scope of FOI’s outreach. Many only know us through one of our ministries. Some take an Up to Jerusalem tour and think we’re in the tour business. Some receive Israel My Glory and think all we do is publish a magazine. Others purchase our outstanding literature and think we’re a book-publishing company.
The fact is, FOI is a full-orbed, worldwide ministry that touches lives every day in innumerable ways. Even our website doesn’t tell the whole story. So I’d like to highlight three of the many outreaches originating in my department, North American Ministries. These are unique because they are participatory—you can take part in them. Two have existed for some time; one is brand new.
ORIGINS is an acrostic that stands for Our Resolve Is Giving Israel Never-ending Support. This ministry gives people ages 18 to 28 an opportunity to work and serve the Jewish people of Israel for two weeks at the Kaplan Medical Center outside Tel Aviv.
Our participants display unconditional love and support for Israelis by working side by side with them doing manual labor, often resulting in enduring friendships. We also set aside time for touring the land.
The program’s benefits are enormous. Our Christian young people connect with God’s Word and God’s ancient people as never before and gain a firsthand understanding of life in Israel’s difficult neighborhood of the Middle East.
Friendship is also the theme of Hesed (Hebrew for “loving-kindness”), our adult-volunteer trip to Israel that also goes to Kaplan. There’s no age cap for Hesed. Participants only have to be at least 18 and healthy.
Team members come from around the world to roll up their sleeves and work. Many find it so rewarding they return year after year, strengthening the bonds they’ve made with their Israeli coworkers.
CRUIZIN’ FOR ZION
This is a brand-new ministry that goes full throttle at the end of May. From May 30 to June 21, Cruizin’ will give you an opportunity to ride with our Canadian representative Rob Gottselig in his restored 1968 Chevy through the prairies of Saskatchewan and two other provinces, engaging people with a message about biblical restoration. Rob will stop in nine cities to preach, teach, and interact with folks.
He devised this unique ministry in 2019 after B’nai Brith Canada reported that 2018 set a record for the third consecutive year for anti-Semitism in Canada. B’nai Brith documented some 2,041 incidents, which marked a 16.5 percent increase from the previous year.
Rob welcomes anyone who wants to meet him at one of his many stops. He also can be tracked online. Here is a wonderful opportunity to become part of a unique outreach by sharing your love and friendship with the Jewish people. This ministry is not limited to Canadians or classic-car buffs and is open to anyone interested in fighting anti-Semitism, exposing Replacement Theology, or just being a friend to Israel.
If that description sounds like you, or if you just want to know more about this exciting ministry or support it in some way, go to our Cruizin’ for Zion website (tinyurl.com/FOIcruizin) to see photos and a video, and learn dates and locations of events. Perhaps one is coming to your area.
The Lord said, “I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the LORD of hosts, the Holy Mountain” (Zech. 8:3). Participating in Cruizin’ is your acknowledgment that God will accomplish His purpose of restoring Israel.
There are so many more ministries that make up The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. These are but three. You never know how God will use you when you dare to roll up your sleeves and serve Him. Larry’s trip to Israel opened his eyes, and his connection with us increased—so much so that today Larry Murray serves as vice chairman of FOI’s board of trustees. That is not small potatoes.
OPEN DOOR IN UKRAINE
Ukraine is a country of 40 million people, bordered by Poland on the west; Russia on the east; Belarus on the north; and Romania, Moldova, and the Black Sea on the south. It has been beset by war and conflict with Russia throughout its history; and though it is nicknamed the “breadbasket of Europe” due to its fertile soil, Ukraine endured the Red Famine in 1932–1933, when Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin deliberately starved millions of Ukrainians in an effort to destroy any sense of Ukrainian nationalism.
This year, we’re making serious efforts to expand our outreach in this needy country. Approximately 400,000 Jewish people live in Ukraine. About half of them dwell in Kiev (Kyiv), the capital city of almost 3 million.
We now have two native Ukrainians interning with us in Poland, Tetyana and Andrew. Tetyana works with Hanya, one of our field workers in Poland. Her many responsibilities include helping with the details of bringing children from Ukraine to our Eastern European summer camps in Poland. She also helps to distribute medicine, clothing, and such things as Hanukkah baskets to Jewish people in Ukraine.
In addition, God has gifted Tetyana with a powerful, operatic voice that she uses for the Lord, even singing occasionally for the Jewish children at the summer camps. She also loves sharing the gospel with individuals, as God provides opportunities.
Andrew, who recently joined FOI as an intern, is a young, successful businessman who is studying the Bible at the evangelical seminary in Warsaw. Andrew’s heart goes out to the many young Ukrainians who have fled their country. Some estimate the recent war between Russia and Ukraine has driven more than 1 million Ukrainians to Poland to escape the conflict.
Andrew is working with Timothy, another of our Polish field workers, to develop outreaches and events for Ukrainians who live in Poland, with a keen eye to the younger generation. Andrew has many relationships in Ukraine, including with churches where the truth about Israel needs to be proclaimed. With God’s help, our goal is to minister to as many as possible during 2020.
We also have an official volunteer in Ukraine. Mariana helps our Polish workers who frequently travel to her country to distribute medicine and clothing while sharing the gospel.
One of the privileges we have at FOI is to invite people to partner with us through prayer and financial support for the ministries of our international workers. One of the greatest needs right now is the expansion of our ministry in Ukraine. When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, Ukraine gained its independence. Yet it remains a country dominated by unbelief and corruption. Most people don’t understand the pure gospel or know who Jesus really is.
The apostle Paul told the Colossians, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:2–3).
An open door exists as never before in Ukraine. Our people are energized to do the work. Please pray and consider a gift to help us accomplish this great task. You can make a donation through our website at www.foi.org or by calling our headquarters at 856–853–5590.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Steve Herzig is the director of North American Ministries and a Bible teacher for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Mike Stallard is the director of International Ministries and a Bible teacher for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.