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

It happened again this morning. A child who was waiting for months in Iraq for heart surgery finally made the long journey to Israel and arrived safely at Ben Gurion airport. But our team soon realized something was wrong. Lara had oxygen levels which fell to about half of normal. This is basically incompatible with life:

Doctors in Israel are working hard for two-month-old Somaia from Gaza, who was stable at the beginning of this week after a difficult weekend. On Tuesday, to our surprise, Amelie found Somaia extubated and breathing with oxygen support only through her nose. “Sometimes you have to give a child a chance just by herself and see how she is doing,” the doctor explained.

This morning the hospital called us and told that Racheal is now going into surgery, so I drove to Sheba to be with her mother. When I finally found her she was sitting on the floor, crying and very worried about her beloved daughter behind the OR doors.
Before I entered the hospital I was a little bit afraid if I would be a good comfort to the mom because I don’t speak a lot of Kurdish and so I prayed that God would work in me and through me – and he did. Love doesn’t need many words and God can use everyone!

We have seen time and time again God’s power to overcome even the most challenging medical situations. Just this week we celebrated baby Liya’s discharge to Gaza after a difficult few weeks in the ICU. After her pulmonary band surgery last month, her doctor told us quite honestly that her situation was serious and she may not survive. Praise be to God, on Sunday morning we got the news that Liya was ready to go home to Gaza!

I was standing a while at the bed of Somaia to talk to her and to promise her that there are people who love her and that God loves her so much. This girl doesn’t need only better health but also love! Somaia is in God’s loving hands and we can trust him that he will make it good however.

Doctors in Israel on this Independence Day are battling without compromise for the lives of half a dozen little ones from the Gaza Strip:

It was ice cream night out tonight for our community and families, some of whom were especially excited because the month-long Ramadan fast ended at sunset! Has Ashdod ever seen such a group, including Assyrians, Syrians, and Iraqis, as well as volunteers from three continents? It’s a picture of the kingdom of God. May their tribe increase.

Four-year-old Syrian refugee Hussein had a shunt surgery in Syria as a baby, and is now big enough for repair in Israel of his heart defects. Doctors referred him this week for a CT scan to help them examine his heart more thoroughly before the operation. For now, Hussein is busy keeping our house in Ashdod full of laughter and mischief, and slowly working up the courage to befriend our dog Shevie:

If it is hard to believe that Jews and Christians can ever reunite, how much more that Jews and Muslims could come together again as the sons of Abraham? But I thought I saw a glimmer of hope–a prophetic sign?–this week at the farewell party in Ashdod for baby Ayan, before he returned to Iraq following his successful arterial switch surgery:

After a nerve-wracking journey from Iraq, newborn Racheal is now safe, stable, and intubated in the ICU at Sheba Medical Center in Israel. As the volunteer doctors were describing the trip, I was struck by the tireless effort it took to deliver this precious baby to safety, and how grateful we are to those who offer their time and skills to come alongside to get these children the care they need:

At Hadassah Hospital they asked Wael and his mother from Gaza to wait in a small play room at the end of the hall. There was a little orthodox Jewish child in the room with his father, who was very kind to Wael. He encouraged the two boys to share the rocking horse, which Wael did. Wael was very gracious:

Thank God, Ayan's little heart is beating strong a month after the difficult and dangerous surgery to switch his great arteries, and he is released to return to Kurdistan:

In the midst of grief we’re often surprised by joy, as this week when Hena‘s surviving triplet sister Vina waved us off in the refugee camp where their Yazidi family has lived the past eight years:

Praise be to our loving God who hears our prayers, Ahmed is going home today walking and talking and learning to eat again. He seems a different boy than the one we saw day after day lying in a hospital bed, completely uncommunicative and unaware of his surroundings:

Some 90% of our kids do survive and thrive, and sharing their stories is a joy. But I always feel a deeper work of the kingdom of God is being done when we walk with a family through the valley of the shadow of death.

An exciting day for our handsome little friend Musa, who went home to Gaza with a big, perfect smile on his face two weeks after the surgery to repair his cleft lip:

After texting and calling the Israeli authorities all day for permission, finally just past 4 pm this afternoon one-year-old Qusai came trundling out of the Gaza Strip crossing:

The first of the emergency evacuations from Gaza has completed his heart surgery. When coworker Hanna visited Anas, the doctors had just managed to stabilize him two hours earlier. As Hanna prayed at his bedside, Anas opened his eyes for the first time since surgery. This was a special moment for his grandmother. Lilly today found that Anas is now stable enough that the doctors plan to close his chest on Sunday:

The cardiologists in Gaza said they’d never seen anything like it–three newborns all at once on ventilators with complex heart defects, and requiring emergency evacuation to Israel if they were to live. And the ambulance services were refusing to transfer these baby boys. Neither the equipment nor the doctors were in place, so the three newborns languished in Gaza all week long, and it appeared they would stay there through the weekend...
And then amazingly it all came together:

Urgent prayer is needed for three newborn children with complex, life-threatening heart defects, each now on mechanical ventilation in the European Hospital in the Gaza Strip. Over the last two days the ambulance services have changed their longstanding policies, and are now refusing to transport these tiny children to Israel without an accompanying doctor. A doctor who specializes in such transfers has today volunteered to help, and we are attempting to bring out the first child, Anas, early tomorrow morning:

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: