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Survive and Thrive

Yael Eckstein with emergency helicopter

April 24, 2019

Being prepared for the unexpected is important. And it’s especially important in places like Israel, where war could break out at any time. For me personally, this means having a plan in place, an easily accessible bomb shelter, and emergency supplies on hand. For The Fellowship it means having emergency centers in every major city in Israel, 3,000 trained volunteers and professionals, and 5,500 bomb shelters throughout the country -- and constantly adding more.

Being prepared also means having a system in place so that we can respond quickly and efficiently in case of an emergency. Less than a year ago, The Fellowship offices in Jerusalem, Canada, and Chicago conducted a 24-hour practice drill. We’re separated by thousands of miles, and the drill was set up to assess our ability to coordinate efforts in a time of crisis. Our team did an excellent job.

Most recently, as part of The Fellowship’s Emergency Preparedness Program, I went to visit hospitals, bomb shelters, and first responders on Israel’s borders, and to assess any further needs in these communities. It was amazing to see firsthand the impact of The Fellowship on Israel’s security. Among the Fellowship-sponsored projects that I saw were bombproof labor and delivery rooms, fully equipped underground medical emergency units, and large bomb shelters in public spaces.  Even though I know that God is the protector of Israel, it was certainly comforting to see how we’ve helped Israel prepare for any situation.

The final stop of my day was a helicopter launching pad. An intensive care helicopter allows first responders to reach those in need quickly and to provide emergency medical care almost immediately. The pilots who operate this lifesaving helicopter explained that when a person is severely injured, every second counts. This helicopter can make the difference between life and death.

As I was getting ready to leave, one of the heroic pilots came up and asked to speak with me. Suddenly, this brave man became extremely emotional. He told me that he is so thankful to The Fellowship – not only for help with security needs, but for all of things we do for the people of Israel. The pilot explained that because of a full scholarship provided by The Fellowship, his wife was able to fulfill her dream of becoming a psychiatrist.

His words entered my heart and put a smile on my face. I told him that I wasn’t the one to thank and that the gifts had come from millions of Christians around the world – Christians with a heart for Israel and a love for the Jewish people. I was so grateful that my day ended with this beautiful moment. It made me remember that the work of The Fellowship isn’t only about helping Israel survive – its’ about helping Israel thrive.  

Within 24 hours of my visit, Hamas launched rockets into southern Israel and at Tel Aviv, and all of the emergency equipment we provided was being used. We are prepared for times of war. But we are also preparing Israel for the times of peace by providing opportunities for education and development. Together, we can save lives and give people a chance to make the most of their lives.

With blessings from the Holy Land,

Yael Eckstein


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