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.’

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November 2020 - Project Update by Olga Kopilova

Would you like to come along with me today? I will take you to visit some of our precious friends. We haven’t seen each other for almost a year, and we made visitation a priority as soon as the latest lockdown was eased. We, as well as them, are very excited to see each other again, and to exchange news as good old friends do. You know, it is a wonderful quality of friendship – to pick it up, where you dropped it last, without feeling a distance, and just enjoy every minute of precious time together. The kind of time that refreshes like cold water, on a hot and weary day, and feels so sweet and lovely.
We travelled to Kiryat Gat, in the South of Israel. Nikolay and Anna just celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. We ring the bell of their apartment and their daughter Mila, who made Aliya (immigrated to Israel) last year, opens the door for us. She welcomes us in and Nikolay comes out to greet us. He is walking slowly with his walker, but with a big smile. Sadly, we can’t exchange hugs; nevertheless the joy at seeing each other is limitless. Bella, their granddaughter who studies from home now, runs out to greet us too – she has just had her birthday, and wants to share a few sweets with us! Mila makes us delicious coffee with whipped cream, and we settle down for fellowship.
There is a lot of catching up to do, and we are glad we are finally able to meet. After five months in hospital and a rehabilitation centre, Nikolay made it home just on Anna’s 80th birthday – oh, how he was pleading with the doctors to let him go home for such a special occasion! His one leg was unexpectedly amputated because of Diabetes, but he did not give up on learning to walk with proteases again. Anna was always strong and looking after everyone in the family, but Nikolay’s sudden sickness broke her heart and caused deep depression. She doesn’t come out to greet us, and we are not sure if she will join us. But she does! First very quietly, but soon she starts smiling and taking part in our conversation. We speak of the faithfulness of God and about a grateful heart, recalling all the miracles and thanking Him for all the provision. The atmosphere changes, the room fills with life and hope. Anna is talking and laughing – she is herself again! Three hours pass unnoticed, but our hearts are full of joy and gratitude. We agree to meet again soon.
Our second visit is with Shmuel and Batya, our very old friends, just a few days after Shmuel’s 88th birthday. Their apartment is packed with flowers and cards. Batya immediately starts sharing their news – she is usually a talker, while Shmuel peacefully reclines in his soft chair. Now they have seven great grandchildren and one on the way. Batya is a very artistic woman, and she enjoys many different crafts. She has known how to knit from childhood, and everything in her house, clothes, covers and table-cloths, are all made by her. She has also knitted beautiful small clothes for a coming great granddaughter and excitedly shows them to us.
This time we brought a handmade quilt we just recently received from our friends in America, and Batya is very happy - she so appreciates handmade items, as she knows the cost of it. She also shows us a beautiful knitted blanket – it was our first gift for Shmuel over 15 years ago! She didn’t only keep it so well all those years, but that blanket encouraged her to learn new knitting techniques! She knitted several dozens of different blankets since, for her entire family and friends. Both, Shmuel and Batya were so happy that day! Nobody apart from their children visited them in past 6 months, and they are hungry for fellowship and good company. Batya, though walking very slowly, walks with us outside the door, and is a little sad to see us leaving. “You cannot even imagine what your visit today meant for us,” she says quietly. Batya is right, we cannot imagine indeed, but how grateful we are for the privilege to bring joy and hope into the lonely routines of our precious friends. Tired, but happy, we head back to Jerusalem, praising the Lord and praying for those whom we visited.
Thank you for joining us today! Thank you so very much for making it possible for us to travel to the different parts of Israel, to bring God’s love and comfort. Thank you for entrusting us to be your feet and your heart. We greatly appreciate your support in these uneasy and urgent times.
“Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! and break out in singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.” (Isaiah 49:13 )

Forsake Them Not