Shevet Sunday - Danger and opportunity

Dear coworkers,

We're here in the Middle East to make it possible for you to be here. 

Loving our Muslim neighbors is not a spectator sport. It's something we're all called to do. And we love to be part of equipping believers from around the world for fruitful service here. It's very satisfying to see not just our visiting families go home with transformed hearts, but our volunteer coworkers as well.

The biggest barrier though seems to be lack of faith--specifically lack of faith that God could use someone like me. We hear a little voice saying I could never do something like that.

Often we receive the tremulous inquiry, "What kind of work would I do if I came?" Let me answer just by sharing three blogs posted tonight by one of our newest coworkers, Jenny from Manhattan (with a little help from George from Holland) as they visited families from Kurdistan now in the hospital in Israel:

We arrived at Sheba Hospital today finding a much happier mom as she was finally able to hold her baby! For a while before and after the surgery, Yousif could not be picked up in order to recover. He often cried and reached out his arms hoping he could be held by her. Today, his little wish came true.  He cried when in his crib but every time she embraced him again, the tears vanished from his sweet little face.
yousif recovering

The nurse informed us that Yousif is recovering well, albeit not without the expected hardships of such a small body undergoing open heart surgery. He has been up a lot at night and sometimes gets overheated. But we are thrilled to hear that he could potentially be discharged from the hospital this week. It’s a blessing to see Yousif look so well and for his mother to have some sense of relief following his surgery the other day...

Ana is such a delight to be around – her adorable face and gentle demeanor are both wonderful: 

ana at sheba

I feel like one of Ana’s biggest advocates now, we are always rooting for her. Surely God feels this way about us, as we are His children.

Currently, Ana is recovering well but she is unable to swallow and thus she needs to be fed through intubation. Due to the surgery and her cleft palate, she has temporarily lost her reflex to swallow. Surgery for her lip can only take place when Ana gets bigger.
However, we remain hopeful that God can restore any capability, including this little child’s ability to feed from her bottle. Ana will see a specialist and hopefully receive further guidance and expectations going ahead.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We trust that God has plans to prosper Ana, that she would delight in the richest of fare both in her ability to resume feeding as normal and to one day know the fullness of our Father. Please join us in praying for this wonderful baby Ana alongside her mother, who need encouragement and healing at this time...

It’s been a long time that [Christian refugee] Gabriel and his mom have been back in the hospital. We invite you to pray alongside us as we lift them up to our Father, who cares for them more than we ever could:

angel gabriel

Isaiah 30:18 says, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you, therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
So, could you do this? Could you love and embrace these children and their parents? Could you take delight in their beautiful faces? Could you speak the word of God over them? Could you call on others to pray for them?

Yes, you know that you could. So what are you waiting for? And best of all, before you come organize a Shevet Achim chapter in your community to sponsor and pray for one of the children you'll be caring for. More on how to do this next week, God willing, when we hope to unveil our newly-revised website.

Meanwhile, here are two Syrian refugee children who need sponsors right now:
rahaf is coming

Baby Rahaf's visa to enter Israel is finally approved (thank you for praying), and by God's grace she'll be transferred in the next couple of days.

And hard on her heels will come 19-month-old Mohammed (just learning to walk), also from a lovely family of Syrian refugees:
baby mohammed

I'll tell you folks, it was hard to leave these families when we visited them this week in their country of refuge. They're so open-hearted and loving, despite having lost everything in Syria. Whoever gets the privilege of serving them is getting the gift of a lifetime.

Finally tonight, for those who think and care about Jewish-Christian relations, a thought-provoking essay "A tipping point and a moment of truth," from Aaron Hecht at the Jerusalem Assembly. He argues that the growing gap of policy disagreement between Israel and the rest of world Jewry is in fact the moment of opportunity for Israel's Christian friends to step forward. Here's an excerpt:

...the long-strained relations between Israel and the Jewish communities in the Western democracies, especially the US, might have just reached a breaking point. The political, social and last-but-not-least financial support of these Diaspora communities has been vitally important for Israel over the last 70 years. Losing their support, or even receiving it on a more nuanced and/or less consistent basis, would quickly lead to what almost any analyst would say qualified as a “crisis” for this country.

Which takes us to the oft-repeated legend (which might be true but probably isn’t) that the Chinese word for “crisis” combines the figures for “danger” and “opportunity.”

There certainly is an opportunity here, and frankly I think it’s a door being opened by God Himself.

If Israel is about to lose the support of Jewish Diaspora communities it has long depended on for many things, it means that Israel’s Christian supporters are about to become a lot more important to it.

This, again, has prophetic significance.

Jonathan for Shevet Achim

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