Shevet Sunday - To be brothers

Dear coworkers,

Last week I wrote you about the dilemma of baby Mir: a complete repair of his heart defects would be unacceptably high-risk, but both hospital and family wanted assurance that--if they broke the surgery into two safer stages--we'll still be here two years from now to bring him to Israel again. We gave our commitment.

​Praise God, doctors at the Sheba Medical Center went ahead Thursday with the safer stage one, and today our Dutch coworker Nelly shares the result:

mir postop
"He looked fresh from his eyes and happy. His mother was also satisfied and glad."

Is there then a time to take risks? Wednesday we planned to to fly into Israel two urgent children from Kurdistan, a baby girl with a cleft palate named Ana and a ten-year-old boy named Anas with Marfan Syndrome:


The sharp-eyed coordinator at the hospital in Israel warned us that these children were at risk and may need immediate ICU hospitalization on arrival. But the local doctor in Kurdistan felt they could fly, and the families assured as they were at home and stable. We greenlighted their travel, remembering another precious girl with Marfan Syndrome who recently died in Kurdistan while waiting to travel.

Well, Anas did collapse during travel, and our community around the world went to prayer as he was rushed to the hospital in Jordan. I was in the US, and found myself praying just as dawn was breaking: ​Lord, look upon him with compassion. Reveal your son to him. Lord save I pray.

​Five minutes later came word that his heart had stopped. It is so hard to walk through these situations. There's a temptation to simply avoid this painful and costly intercession. Yet we know that in the end the family will have peace in the knowledge that every effort was made to get their son to treatment. And the further along we go, the more clearly I see that our job is not just the temporary repair of hearts, but even more so to get hearts safely from this world to the next. 

​And the other high-risk child, baby Ana? She made the trip safely, despite a few tense moments. She's now in the hospital in Israel, where doctors are working to improve her feeding before taking her to surgery:

ana in israel

Let's pray please for the families of both Anas and Ana in the days ahead.

Finally, there are several thought-provoking articles to share this week. The New York Times, to its credit, published an eye-opening story revealing that the widows and children of Islamic State fighters are now languishing in a tent camp in Kurdish-controlled Syria, with no countries willing to take them in. The mothers admit that going to join the caliphate was a mistake, but poignantly ask: "Don't we deserve redemption?"

And here's a review of the new book ​Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by the respected Israeli journalist Yossi Klein Halevi, who:

...acknowledges that the conflict isn’t merely a territorial dispute but at root a cosmic conflict whose supernatural dimension “immeasurably complicates our chances for a solution.” Halevi asks “how to respect the other’s religious commitments and longings when those seem to threaten our own?” It is a good question, and one for which he doesn’t have a satisfactory answer.

The reviewer concludes that the competing Jewish and Muslim religious narratives are irreconciliable and must both be abandoned if there is any hope. 

But at the very heart of the revelation of God through the Jewish people (the Bible) is the knowledge that YHVH is one and his name is one. Rather than throwing up our hands at the multiplicity of claims about God in this world, we instead must affirm there is one God and one way to know him that will prove to be a blessing to all peoples. We too as Christians must acknowledge that we don't have our own "religion." The whole Christian movement is the story of non-Jews joining themselves to the God of Israel. 

​In this light I want to commend to you a full reading of this final excellent article, by the messianic Jewish author Ron Cantor, in which he repents of an us-versus-them attitude toward his Arab neighbors:

As Messianic Jews, we need to reach out to our Arab brothers who believe and express to them: We repent for what Sarah did. We love you. We need you. You are our brothers. We do not reject you. Come back into the Abrahamic family. Our mother Sarah rejected them, but we want to reverse that and reclaim the Arab people as full brothers...My prayer is for Ishmael and Isaac to be one again--to be brothers.
​Jonathan for Shevet Achim

​"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133).