“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” – Psalm 133

Our most urgent prayer request continues to be for Yano, our dearly beloved 5-year-old Kurdish girl who is still on the ECMO machine and fighting for her life. Tuesday marked one week since she came out of surgery on the ECMO, and the doctor in the ICU explained to me that at this point, they would hope to see serious improvement in the condition of her heart. However, Yano has not significantly improved since the operation. The doctor asked us to make sure Yano’s mother knows that all the doctors and nurses are doing all they can for Yano, but that they are very worried about her condition.

And Sundis! As doctors struggled in the OR to replace her old pacemaker Thursday, her mother told us that Sundis had died as a child in Gaza and was taken to the morgue. Only after an hour did her mother spot a pulsating vein in her neck. Here’s how Alena found her today: "I would say Sundis is recovering well after her surgery, but after seeing her today, that seems an understatement."

“Pray for Yano,” her mother asked even before her big surgery Tuesday. And indeed, Yano’s heart did not work well after the surgery, and doctors had to put her on ECMO for heart-lung support and also performed an emergency catheterization to check her coronary arteries. On our Whatsapp thread coworker Bria shared a video of Yano singing “My God is so big”:

Michelle and I walked into the Schneider Children’s Medical Center tonight looking for 13-year-old Farooq from Iraq. We found him in the ICU chewing on a chocolate bar. What’s incredible about this is that he’s already come through his high-risk, “50% mortality” heart surgery:

13-year-old Farooq from Iraq will be taken in for his heart surgery tomorrow morning at Schneider Children’s Medical Center, after a CT today to map the anatomy of his heart. The fluid retention in his legs has been reduced, but his abdomen is still swollen. Please pray for him and his father during this high-risk surgery and the long and difficult recovery that may follow:

There were so many words of heartfelt affirmation of how much this family has given to others. And it was a comfort for me to hear from Julio and Luzma what they also received: that their time in the Shevet community was transforming and healing and saving:

13-year-old Farooq from Iraq was admitted to Schneider Children’s Medical Center, our first heart child there in at least nine years. He came in a very dire condition; he had a Tetralogy of Fallot repair in Sudan in 2010, but is now in heart failure. Since his admission he has lost seven kilos with a new medication to help control the fluid buildup in his body:

We went ahead and put Farooq on the flight last night, not even sure if he could survive the transit. And as his flight was due to touch down in Tel Aviv at 8:55 this morning, hospital after hospital again declined to accept him. Before me was a nightmare scenario: asking our Jaffa coworkers to drive around the country with a dying boy in their vehicle and nowhere to take him:

Doctors in Israel are close to sending precious little Mohammed back to Kurdistan without surgery, as the risk is high until he grows larger. But the risk is also high to continue without surgery. Please ask with us for God's wisdom:

Tiny premature Hassanein was almost sent back to Gaza this week where he would likely have died. Instead doctors in Israel held on to him, and tonight he is shockingly off the ventilator and breathing on his own:

After six months in Israel, the premature Yazidi triplet Hena and her uncle boarded their flight late last night and have just reached their joyous family in northern Iraq:

Friends, I’m absolutely certain that it was open confession of sin that began to release the spiritual freedom years ago which led to the establishment of our community. And I pray it remains a foundation stone for us. When we see the blessings God will pour out to others through our surrendered lives, we realize it’s worth paying the price. Just look at the faces of the children which crossed our community WhatsApp thread in less than two hours this afternoon:

The Yazidi triplet Hena helped our coworker Rachel keep track of all the families who need our prayer this week:

The call came in early Friday morning from Gaza. Five-day-old Nadeen was born with critical narrowing of the pulmonary valve, and was barely clinging to life in the hospital via a special medication that keeps open the duct which supplies oxygen to a baby while in the womb.
Before the Shabbat started at sunset, Nadeen was safely in the ICU in Israel’s largest hospital, the Sheba Medical Center, where she is now stabilized and Tabea found her today waiting (grumpily) for treatment:

Please pray for tiny premature Hassanein from Gaza, as doctors in Israel care for him until he is large enough for them to open his walnut-sized heart:

Today two of our Kurdish volunteers and I went to see Sulaiman in the isolated countryside of northern Iraq, where his Arab refugee father, with his nine children and two wives, lives in a two-room block house and uses a rifle to protect a flock of 250 sheep from wolves for a Kurdish landowner. I hope I conveyed to them how much respect and affection I feel for these children of Abraham, and for the faith in the impossible they showed by setting off for Israel to save their son:

After six months in Israel, and as her family's patience back in Kurdistan reached its end, the Yazidi triplet Hena finally was taken for her second surgery today:

Who is that who is well enough to take on our most difficult Jaffa home maintenance? None other than 33-year-old Mohammed L from Kurdistan, whose heart was failing two months ago during the agonizing wait for a visa to Israel:

Today we are rejoicing that little Dina has been discharged and can finally return to Kurdistan! Given her fragile condition over the last few months (severe heart infection and ruptured aorta), her doctor remarked today that Dina is a miracle and is doing better than ever:

An urgent need for prayer tonight for three-week-old Karim from Gaza, the third emergency newborn rushed to Israel during this month’s high holy days. He was born with the most challenging heart defect–hypoplastic left heart syndrome–and was in surgery at the Sheba Medical Center until nearly midnight tonight. He’s now on the ECMO device to support his heart and lungs as doctors fight to keep him alive. Some centers and families won’t even try to help in these cases, since the prognosis is so difficult:

Shevet Achim communities help children from Gaza, Iraq and Syria come to Israel for open-heart surgeries. The first community formed in 1994 in response to the plea of a mother who came to Israel seeking life-saving treatment for her son at a cost of $64,000:

“Will you help us?”

Few of us have the resources to respond to a request like that. But we found if one person will hear that question–and then pray, give whatever they have, and share the child’s story–our Father will form a rescue community that unites all kinds of people around the shared goal of saving a child’s life. And doctors and hospitals in Israel are ready to partner with us and take more than half of the costs on themselves.

Here are some of the families of children who are asking the same question today: “Will you help us?”

How it Works:

Each of these children is invited for heart surgery in one of Israel’s largest hospitals, the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, or Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. If God gives you the faith to intercede for one of these boys or girls, you can apply to become a local leader. When approved you’ll be given your own page on this website through which you can call together friends, family, and neighbors, to join you in meeting the financial goal. Everyone agrees that a child’s life should be saved–you’ll find yourself partnering with people you never would have expected! You’ll share with them regular updates on your child’s progress, including updates sent from the Shevet Achim community in Israel. And you’ll be invited to come and personally meet your child while he or she is in Israel for surgery.

Here’s how you can get started.

And here are the stories of the children now in Israel: