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

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:

Julio our Kurdish-speaking coworker was called into the hospital to translate on Wednesday morning, the quiet day as everything prepared to close for Yom Kippur. The doctors had reached a treatment decision for Mohammed L, the long-neglected 33-year-old from Kurdistan:

A poignant moment at the Sheba Medical Center today, as doctors there have completed a second catheterization for 33-year-old Mohammed L from Kurdistan, and are nearing a decision on whether they can take him for very high risk surgery:

Our greatest prayer need at this hour is for newborn Omar from Gaza, who came through his complex and difficult emergency surgery Thursday, and is on the ECMO device, which is the last-ditch measure to support the heart and lungs of critically-ill children. I know for many of us who have walked and prayed together through the past year, hearing this causes a pause and a deep breath as the memories of the previous recent children who have been in such a dangerous condition and their mothers are brought to mind:

As we enter the High Holy Days, a religious Israeli surgeon is accepting emergency children from Gaza and Iraq who will almost certainly cause him to be in the hospital fighting for their lives on the Torah holidays:

The young Kurdish man Mohammed L is continuing with his assessments this week, including a cardiac MRI to help the doctors consider his surgery. He and his mother are good company to visit, enclosed now for over a week in their isolation room at the hospital, but always happy, and finding something to talk about, despite being in quarantine. We hope to hear from the doctors about the possibility for surgery for Mohammed soon:

Here’s what the Middle-Eastern-style celebration looked like when the Arab baby Sulaiman reached his large and poor shepherd family in northern Iraq, after successful surgery in Israel to switch his great arteries. Yes it is shocking, and so biblical:

Eight top urgent children are leaving Kurdistan for Israel tonight, God willing. As they’re arriving Friday morning, we hope to be waving farewell to three babies returning home on the same flight, all after successful surgeries for transposition of the great arteries:

The long, long battle to reunite Asmeen and mother with their family in Kurdistan finally came to fulfillment Thursday. Transferring Asmeen from Israel to northern Iraq while on mechanical ventilation was surely the most complex, challenging journey in the history of our community. Here’s the moment they’ve longed for the past eight months:

After almost eight months in hospital in Israel, beloved Asmeen and her mother said their final farewells to the Sheba hospital staff just an hour ago. Please pray! for this complex 12-hour transfer of a child on mechanical ventilation all the way to the receiving hospital in northern Iraq:

Two months and one week after we first applied for his visa, 33-year-old Mohammed from Kurdistan has just boarded the first of two flights which, God willing, will bring him safely to Israel tomorrow morning. Despite two previous surgeries for his congenital heart defect in Iraq and Jordan, the right side of Mohammed’s heart is greatly enlarged and failing. The surgeon at the Sheba Medical Center is going out on a limb by accepting Mohammed, and estimates that he is as likely to die in surgery as to survive. So friends, let’s pray right now for Mohammed, that this will be a journey of redemption:

The cleft-palate child Dina from Kurdistan is still very weak, but has come through this her third heart surgery and is now breathing on her own. Please continue to pray for her life:

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: