Forsake Them Not by Olga Kopilova

The Holocaust is one of the most grievous events of human history.

6 million innocent people, whose only crime was to be born Jewish, were annihilated by other humans.

God’s heart grieves, and deeply aches for the loss and pain of His firstborn. God’s heart grieves over one of the biggest tragedies of the human race. We grieve with Him, and yet we rejoice with Him, with those who survived, with those who thrived, and with those who moved back into their true homeland, Israel, and lived successful and full lives.

The task of the Forsake Them Not team, as we still have precious Survivors with us, is to listen and to hear the truth of their stories. It is our responsibility to hear what the hearts of the Holocaust Survivors are trying to say beyond the pages of a history book, to uplift them in prayer and to become their voices for future generations.

As a team, we are blessed that we can bring love, comfort, and gifts. Our goal, as always, is to reach as many holocaust survivors as we can through home visits, scheduling and attending special events, phone calls, greeting cards and gifts. Over the years, we have learned that attention is what is needed most.

A listening ear, a hug, an unhurried visit – these are the “gifts” that are longed for. Each year the stark reality, that our time with these precious people, is so limited becomes more and more clear.

We know we must work while it is day.

The Forsake Them Not team makes many trips all around Israel to visit these survivors in their sunset years, whose glory is in the fruit of their lives and in the inheritance of their children. We are honored to know each one, and we are so grateful for all of the prayers and support of you, our faithful supporters, for enabling us to ‘forsake them not.’

Contact Forsake Them Not at: ftn@cfijerusalem.org

August 2020 - Project Update by Olga Kopilova

FORSAKE THEM NOT

 

Have you ever felt lonely? Loneliness is a prison of the heart. The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the feelings of isolation, and has become torturous for some. Loneliness, though isolating by nature, never comes to the heart alone. It has its faithful companions like depression, anxiety, pesky thoughts and bad memories.

 

As a team here, we feel the urgency to reach out to our precious friends, the holocaust survivors, to bring the light and love of God into their daily routines, even more so these days. Any expression of attention brings release and a feeling of new life. A phone call, a visit, a card of encouragement with scripture, and even a birthday card reminds them that they are not so alone after all.

“The birthday card you sent me with the words of prayer in it brought the presence of God into my day and my life. It is what we really need today.” Those are the words of the Holocaust Survivor, who called me few days ago to express her gratitude for the card we sent her. The prayer included was Psalm 139. We continue to pray that the Word of God would draw the weary hearts of His people to Himself.

 

Another lady also called to tell us how emotional she was when she read the words of her Birthday card, words that so deeply spoke to her heart, and made her feel so loved and cared for. It is also encouraging for us when we hear such testimonies. This gives us hope that loneliness can be defeated.  

We were grateful for the opportunity to make some visits, despite the current pandemic, in order to deliver gifts and to listen to people's hearts. We also see the change in the dynamic and character of the time spent together; our visits have brought even more depth, honesty, trust, warmth and love.

 

 For instance, Arkady is usually very quiet, and his wife Ludmila does all of the talking. On our last visit, however, Arkady couldn’t keep it inside any longer; he needed to speak. Isolation had brought back memories that he thought had passed away long ago. In the beginning of the lockdown, somebody rang the doorbell of their apartment. When Arkady opened the door, he found a big box with food in it. Suddenly tears flooded his eyes; he couldn’t stop crying and Ludmila got really concerned. Memories of another late night doorbell in 1976 overwhelmed him. Back then he wondered who could be such a late visitor. Arkady, when looking to see who it might be, had seen a well-dressed lady. No, he did not recognise her. She was an image from the past he possibly couldn’t remember. When he was a little boy during the war a lady from the SS police station in the Ghetto in Ukraine, almost every day for two years, brought the tiny poor Arkady a slice of dark bread – a treasure, that sustained him and made it possible for him to survive. Later he found out that she was a spy for the Red Army, and after completing her task she went back to Latvia.

 

Over 32 years later, in 1976, she found Arkady and drove hundreds of kilometers to see him. She needed to know that that boy survived and was doing well in life. He was indeed. Their visit only lasted 20 minutes, but Arkady will never forget the kindness of her heart. It was also a great comfort for Arkady to know, when he saw the food parcel, that there are still people today who are ready to help those in need. And what speaks louder than bread to a hungry little boy, that still lives in that elderly man’s heart? Four hours spent together with that wonderful couple was a huge gift and joy for both us and them.

We so greatly appreciate your faithful support and prayers, as we seek to bring comfort and love that shatter the power of loneliness to the precious Survivors of the Holocaust during this challenging time. THANK YOU!

 

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah

Our God is the God of salvation; and to God the Lord belong escapes from death.” (Psalm 68:19-20)