Shevet Sunday - We are not cousins

Dear coworkers,

Let's pause tonight to pray for Kovan, from the minority Kakai religious community in Iraq. He's been toddling around our Jaffa base for the past two months, as doctors made a 3-D model of his heart in preparation for his complex surgery. Initially frightened and suspicious of all the strangers around him, it's been a delight to watch Kovan opening up to the point that he now greets us with a great smile, and even a word or two of English:


Kovan will finally go to surgery just a few hours from now, God willing, to the joy of his longsuffering father who is on leave from the peshmerga. "His dad didn't fully believe things were actually moving forward until he was in the car on the way to Wolfson," Alexa writes in tonight's blog

And best of all, Kovan's mother just arrived in Israel last night to replace the father as caregiver. Both will be at Kovan's side as the Israeli team wheel him off to surgery Monday morning. I've promised them we'll all be praying.

kovan parents

"I wonder about the thoughts that go through the parents’ minds as they watch their child pulled away by doctors before the surgery," Lindsay shared in an update Friday, after another Kurdish child, baby Nazgol, finally had her chest closed, was extubated, and starting to whimper three days after her surgery:

Will they survive? Will I be able to kiss their face again? Hear their cries? Look into their eyes and tell them one more time how much I love them?
nazgol and mom

We do not take these moments for granted. God is providing for His precious children and He has granted precious Nazgol a gift of quiet whimpers. We pray these cries would be an encouragement to her mother of the great work God is doing in her daughter’s life. And a reminder to us all of the gift of each moment we are given.
Friends, let's learn from the example of these brave mothers, and cherish our loved ones today.

There was lots of love for the Kurdish people going around in Israel's Knesset this week. Politicians from across the spectrum attended a hearing to declare that support for the Kurds is the one thing that unites them all. Israel is virtually the only country on earth that spoke up for the Kurds in support of their vote for independence two months ago. Many Israelis have family roots in the ancient Jewish community of Kurdistan; one speaker summed it all up by saying, "We are not cousins, we are brothers." There were even a few kind words from our friend Moti Zaken about the Lord's work through the Shevet Achim community, which you can hear at the 1:21:15 mark in the video below:
Finally, it's been a good week spiritually for our community, as two of our members chose to make confessions of sin. That may sound strange, but it's actually a core value for Shevet Achim. I try to tell every new applicant in their first interview that we're not a community of saints trying to put on a perfect face for each other, but more like broken sinners with honest, repentant hearts and a desire to be changed. It's a joy, and the first step toward freedom, when we can tell the truth to each other about the things we struggle with.

I'm convinced that's at the very heart of our testimony about Jesus here in the Middle East. We can't hope to compete with our neighbors when it comes to putting on a good hypocritical show of exterior religious piety. But the one thing they'd never do in a shame-based culture is tell the truth about what wretched sinners we all are! Here in our weakness is our very strength, the place where God's grace is revealed to other sinners who are desperate for hope.

As you consider coming out to join us, for a few weeks or a few years, please come prepared to be real, and to be transformed.

Jonathan for Shevet Achim

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