An older woman named Rosie was touring the city center of Jerusalem when she began to have difficulty walking. She had fallen behind her tour group and was becoming despondent that she was unable to catch up. Jonathan, who saw Rosie in distress, accompanied her until she was able to meet up with her group again.
“She reminded me of my mother”, Feldstein told Breaking Israel News. “I saw she had clearly fallen behind her group so I walked with her to make sure she was okay.”
It turns out that this one spontaneous good deed turned into a series of good deeds which in turn helped the whole whole country of Israel in what may become a bevy of much-needed blood donations to Israel’s National Blood Bank.
Feldstein’s organization seeks to sustain a plentiful blood supply for the people of Israel by supporting Israel’s National Blood Bank. What makes Heart to Heart so unique is that besides facilitating physical blood donations in Israel, the organization allows donors to sponsor a unit of blood via virtual blood donations. Heart to Heart has helped Israel revolutionize the way people all over the world are able to support life in Israel.
After helping Rosie rejoin her group, Jonathan met Annette Garcia, the President and General Manager of Son Broadcasting, a broadcasting company from New Mexico that had organized the trip.
Annette and Jonathan met again in 2013 at a conference in Nashville during which Jonathan pitched the idea of adding a blood drive to the itinerary next time Annette planned a tour to Israel. The idea very much inspired Annette, who by that time had become enamoured with and an avid supporter of Heart to Heart.
The first such blood drive happened on May 1st.
When asked why the idea of a blood drive had inspired her so much, Annette told Breaking Israel News: “When we go home as a Christian religious TV broadcasting station with our friends and partners who’ve joined us on this trip, we want to feel a continued connection. It is important for us not only to say that we want to help and support Israel through our broadcasting and ideas, but to take action as well. This is one of the most important parts of our trip.”
The Partners in Prayer tour, sponsored by Son Broadcasting of New Mexico, visited Israel this past week. As one of the final legs of their journey, the tour stopped in the Jerusalem technological garden to donate blood. The 12 day tour consisted of visits to Christian and Jewish holy sites as well as locations that would help give a feel for getting to know Israel first hand.
The 26 participants in the group were excited by the prospect of donating blood in Israel. For some of the participants this would be the first time they had ever donated blood.
Annette, who received a blood transfusion herself while giving birth to her second child over two decades ago, pointed to the importance of such activities on a continual basis.
“Blood donations are not just for times of unrest. There is always a shortage of blood in Israel,” she explained. “If we can help donate blood while we are here, and spread the message of Heart to Heart to all of the Christian visitors, to take part in a blood drive during their visits to Israel, we can help end that crisis. It is absolutely important for those who receive donations, such as myself, to give back.”
Annette reflected on when Jonathan had introduced her to the only Pastor at the time who had donated blood while on tour in Israel. “I had never thought of doing that, but it makes so much sense. We all come to Israel to learn and experience. We take lessons home. Now we can leave part of our work, part of ourselves here. Everyone loves to come and plant trees, because it is something that a person can give back to the country. Well this is better, and it helps in a much more direct way.”
One of the younger members of the tour, Michael Zimmerman from Santa Fe, who had never donated blood before, said that the blood drive really connected him to a moving lesson he’d learned from Moshe Kempinsky, the owner of Shorashim store in the Old City.
“When you come to Israel, you always leave a part of your heart here. That is why people always want to come back and visit, because you are returning to visit your heart.”
Michael took Moshe’s lesson to heart and carried it with him throughout his time in Israel. “Donating blood is the closest physical manifestation of this idea that one can attain,” he said. “This is as close to a physical piece of our heart that we can get. It is an honor for us to be able to do this.”
The Partners in Prayer tour were left with a life-moving experience. The group members, all of whom were excited by the activity, were photographing and filming each other to remember the special moment of donating blood. An excited Linda Cobb, who runs her own TV show, said that “God answers prayers. I am happy that we get a chance to be a part of that.”
Annette is now determined to work on getting other ministries and tour groups to make blood donation part of their itinerary during trips to Israel. “Imagine that all of the thousands of Christian tourists who visit each year all donate blood. There would be no crisis at all,” she said.
When asked why it was so important for them to support Israel, Annette answered; “My parents and grandparents were great lovers of Israel. The Jewish people preserved so much tradition and suffered so much throughout the age, yet they persevered because they dedicated themselves, to God and to each other. My grandfather’s greatest wish was that his children and grandchildren and even great grandchildren would be able to fulfill the passages of the Shema and serve God with all their heart and all their soul. This is one of the best ways that we can do so. Literally.”