Though God has allowed me to travel to Israel numerous times and spend the last 40 years defending His Chosen People, meeting with leaders from around the world and having the privilege of being a friend and confidant of Israel’s prime ministers, I can truly say that this ministry entered a new phase of effectiveness and favor in 2012. That was the year we purchased the first building of what has now become the Friends of Zion Center campus. That beautiful five-story building is now home to the Friends of Zion Museum, the first Christian museum in Israel.
When it became apparent to me that we were taking a major ministry step, I realized we were going to need a board of directors specifically for the Friends of Zion outreach. After a great deal of prayer and with a reliance on God’s direction, I did something completely crazy and with no hope of success. I reached out to Shimon Peres, who was nearing the end of his term as Israel’s ninth president (in Israel the president can only serve one seven-year term).
This giant of a man was the last of Israel’s founding fathers—the courageous souls who defied the odds and called a nation back to life. There was no earthly reason to think that a Jewish president would join hands with an evangelical Christian ministry…but we are not on an earthly mission. We are carrying out a heavenly mandate! And when God truly leads you to do something, no matter how unlikely it seems, He brings it to pass.
President Peres immediately agreed to serve as chairman of the international board for Friends of Zion. This astonishing measure of God’s favor gave us so many amazing open doors. Shimon Peres was not just our chairman; he became our champion. He used his influence and personal credibility to open doors for us to begin to influence the world as never before.
President Peres had several favorite sayings. One of them was, “Count the number of dreams you have and compare them with the number of achievements you’ve had. If you have more dreams than achievements, then you are still young.” Shimon Peres was still young when he died at 93 years of age!
President Peres told me more than once that he considered me as part of his family. My mother’s family came from the same small town in what is now Belarus that his family was from. Though Shimon and his parents made their way to Israel before World War II started, he told me that every member of his extended family who remained behind perished during the Holocaust. The shared tragedy in our family trees knit our hearts together in a powerful way.
In the summer of 1942, soldiers from the German SS advanced through Poland slaughtering Jews at every turn in an effort to clear the area of inhabitants, making way for the planned resettlement of Germans returning from abroad to take up residence under the Third Reich. On August 30, the soldiers arrived in Vishnyeva. Twelve hundred Jews perished in Vishnyeva that day. Almost all of them were at least distantly related to either Shimon Peres or to me, and that is why he said that we were family.