For the last two and a half years, VFI has been purchasing and placing bomb shelters in the southern region of Israel. From 2021 until January 2024, 180 shelters were placed to protect the residents against rocket fire from Gaza and near the northern border, which we now see has been vital in helping protect against rockets from Hezbollah in Lebanon.
It is incredible to note that the founder of VFI, Barry Segal, had it on his heart from the Lord for these last 2+ years to place as many shelters in the south as possible. Barry focused on raising donations to help purchase these shelters and place them in the Israeli communities along the Gaza border. We are in awe that God put it on our hearts to place all of those shelters in those communities because God knew what was coming.
October 7th, 2023, will be remembered as the day in which evil-doers, cursed bloodthirsty messengers of Satan, raped women, murdered thousands of Israelis, and kidnapped children, teenagers, women, men, elderly, and Holocaust survivors. Many lives were taken that day and during this war, and yet God saved many lives through the shelters placed in these southern communities that were hit with an absurd amount of rockets.
From the beginning of the Iron Swords War, we knew that many of the residents of these settlements in the South were security officers, reservists, and strong heroic citizens. The war has raged on for over 100 days with no end in sight. However, we are grateful to have relationships with these brave citizens and heroes who defended their communities with their own hands and saved many lives. We also recognize the trauma they have been through because they were the ones to witness firsthand their friends and family being murdered and slaughtered. The cruelty and wickedness are something we have not seen since the founding of Israel and in the modern history of the people of Israel.
By God’s grace and your faithful support, Barry and VFI became well known to the Eshkol Regional Council over the last two and a half years due to the large number of shelters donated. We are grateful to have built relationships with these Israelis before the war, so that now amid the war, we have been able to love and support them in even deeper ways.
As we communicated with the emergency response teams in the Eshkol Regional Council, we discovered their need for equipment and immediately started raising funds for those items. We were able to raise and purchase defibrillators, radio devices, and scanning flashlights for 32 teams. The total cost of all of this donation was 500,000 Shekels.
On January 17th, we were invited to personally give the equipment to the security chiefs in the 32 settlements in the Eshkol Region. Sadly, there were new security officers that we didn’t know, because nine were murdered in the massacre of October 7th. However, many of the security officers recognized Barry and knew him as a hard-working and caring donor who would go to all the placements of the shelters to protect the residents. They thanked us and told us that hundreds of lives were saved as a result of those shelters.
The commander of all the security officers in the Eshkol Region led the event along with the head of the council. They expressed deep appreciation for your donations of equipment that contributes to the defense of their communities during the war, facilitated by VFI, and for your unceasing support. They shared their heavy grief, severe trauma, deep loneliness, and feeling unsupported. They expressed the heart-wrenching pain of the murder of hundreds of local residents and many of their friends still held hostage in Gaza. We were able to see and hear the sorrow and pain they were going through. And yet, we also saw their resilient hearts to fight and protect what is dear to them — their home.
Most of the families in these communities have been evacuated until the war ends, their communities are restored, and new security measures are in place. And yet, these security officers remain in their communities near Gaza to defend their nation and their people.
Batya and Barry expressed their great appreciation to all the security personnel. Batya explained, "You know that the greater the pain, the greater our spiritual strength. Thanks to God’s plan, we are here. Faith brought us here. We were persecuted in the diaspora, but now we have a home. Our spirit will not be broken. We have many friends around the world who love us and know that the nation of Israel is alive. There are many dear Christians who love Israel, and thanks to their generous support we are able to give you these donations today. If they could, they would come to fight for us here, and some would even send their children to help fight, too. You may not hear them and their voices, but we are here to tell you that they are many and they mean what they say.”
After this, Shai, our VFI team member, presented the donation. Each emergency response team received one kit, which included: 1 defibrillator, 3 radio devices, and 3 scanning lights. We want to give special thanks to our VFI team members, Shai and Liat because they worked on this project with great success.
Vision for Israel will continue to do as much as we can to support these settlements in the south during this war and afterward, until they are fully restored. We came to encourage them, and they encouraged us. We came to strengthen them, and they strengthened us.
Our VFI team wants to give our partners, donors, and friends around the world a strong hug and big thanks for all of your love and support that you have so faithfully given to this nation for such a time as this. You, our dear friends, are the silent heroes! Some of you want to be anonymous, but either way, God sees your generous hearts, your faithfulness to Him, and your support of His Jewish people! Thanks to you we can strengthen and rehabilitate the injured residents and victims of this damnable terrorism here in Israel.
We say thank you from the bottom of our hearts and also on behalf of the security officers and victims of this war. As we finish this first month of 2024 with the war continuing on, may we stay close to the Lord, hear His voice, and walk in step with Him!