This past week, church leaders from the Progressive National Baptist Church (PNBC) went on a Fellowship-sponsored tour of Israel. While visiting biblical sites that show the history of our shared faiths, the group also visited many Fellowship projects. One of these projects was the Yemin Orde Pre-Army Prep Course for young women, which does great work in helping and shaping Israel's leaders of tomorrow.
Joining the armed forces is mandatory for young Israelis. And often the unit in which they serve and the rank they achieve during the course of their IDF service greatly affects the university they will get into and the career they will eventually land.
Because Israel is surrounded by enemies on all of its borders, the IDF goes to great lengths to recruit the best and brightest for higher positions in the army. For men, there is a great focus on physical and mental strength. But women – who are greatly needed in intelligence and information, navigation, and radar analysis – are mainly recruited based on IQ, social standing, and technological abilities.
Army recruitment starts in high school, where students are interviewed and grouped based on their home life, socioeconomic standings, and neighborhood. This practice favors those who have grown up in better homes with higher educational standards. Still, some of Israel’s finest come from some of the most troubled backgrounds.
Therefore, The Fellowship, in partnership with Yemin Orde, has developed an army-prep program for women from difficult backgrounds, which allows them to develop their skills and confidence, which, in turn, enables them to join the higher ranks of the Israeli army. There is no comparing the opportunities that will open up for a young woman who got into the army’s computer and technology unit or information and radar analysis unit, as opposed to one who spent her army service guarding a warehouse or working in the kitchen for her entire service.
The Fellowship finds young women from impoverished homes and crime-filled neighborhoods who show unique potential and desire to succeed. And in the course of the army-prep course, they are given the opportunity to prove to themselves and the army recruitment office that they have what it takes to serve in the elite positions of the IDF. This process not only affects where these young women will serve in the army, it helps set them up for a life of success and achievement in Israeli society.
A Troubled Teen Learns to Love Her Homeland - and Herself
Olga moved to Israel from Ukraine with her parents and siblings at the age of four. Her childhood was mired with difficulties and pain. Two of her siblings were mentally ill, her parents divorced when she was young, and her mom, who had custody of Olga, was unable to provide a home for her daughter.
By the time Olga was a teenager, she was living in a group home. She was troubled, angry, and resentful, but under all that pain and frustration was an incredibly intelligent young woman.
After graduating high school, Olga joined Yemin Orde, a Fellowship-supported Israel Defense Forces (IDF) prep course. At first she wasn’t sure she wanted to serve in the Israeli army and thought about going back to Ukraine. But she decided to enter the program with an open mind.
Yemin Orde instills a love and appreciation for Israel in every young man and woman who joins the program. Many of the youth are immigrants who have not acclimated into Israeli society, and some of them question their very desire to stay in the Jewish state. Olga was one of them.
Despite the girl’s anger, the program’s counselors saw tremendous potential in Olga, and knew that she needed support and direction. As the course went on, Olga began to understand the importance of the Jewish state, she started to identify with her country, and felt pride in living in the land her ancestors had dreamed of for 2,000 years.
With the help of her counselors and peers, Olga began to participate. Since she is incredibly smart, she excelled at everything she did. Today, Olga is serving in the Israeli Air Force. She is being trained to work at the control and command center, a position which almost guarantees a bright future for her in Israel.
Olga’s life completely transformed in The Fellowship-supported Yemin Orde army-prep course. She entered the program as a frustrated and confused young girl who wasn’t sure that she wanted to live in Israel. But she is now a mature young Israeli woman with the desire to put her talents to work in defending the country she proudly calls home.