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Count it all joy

Dear friends, “Count it all joy” was the message this morning as our Jaffa community began reading together the letter from James/Yakov, the brother of Jesus. Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds. This week we have many reasons to be joyful. Chief among our testings is the passing of precious… Read more »

My Father is always working

Dear friends, Michelle and I are gathered on the shores of the Mediterranean with some 300 other ministry leaders and spouses for the Joshua Fund’s annual “Shepherd the Flock” conference, which kicked off tonight with a message from Acts 15-16 by Rich Chaffin:   All you need to know about Rich’s heart can be gleaned… Read more »

A new chapter unfolding?

Dear friends, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins,” we read this morning in Jaffa community. This scandalous word spoke to us from many directions: the confidence we have through the blood of Jesus to approach our Father without condemnation; the necessity of walking in the fear of the Lord and… Read more »

The Father is working

Dear friends, Our community is growing in faith and trust that–simply put–the Father is working. There is joy and rest in this knowledge, as we can join in with the works he is already doing, rather than fretting as if it is up to us to initiate the works of his kingdom. For example, I’m… Read more »

You will not forget your people

Dear friends, Hospitals emptied out as Israel entered the eight-day long Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) tonight at sunset. Julio and Luzma’s daughter Paula took special joy as our Jaffa sukkah went up: And between visiting guests and families waiting for surgeries, the Jerusalem sukkah that Ben engineered is already filling to capacity, thank God: The… Read more »

All we’re asked is to show up

Dear coworkers, Today started bleakly. After a 13-day tour of northern Iraq, I landed at the Amman airport at 06:00 am and drove across town to the Jordanian interior ministry. On the way out to Kurdistan I’d filed a request there for the little Syrian refugee Rahaf to return to Israel for a second heart… Read more »

Not taking any compromises

Dear friends, Our Jaffa and Jerusalem communities are at rest tonight, as Israel entered at sunset the high holiday season of Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles. While this first two-day holiday of Rosh HaShana is considered the New Year in rabbinic tradition, in tonight’s blog “Calling the Saints into Battle” our coworker Deborah takes… Read more »

We’re doing it together

Surely this is our God;we have waited for Him, and He has saved us.This is the LORD for whom we have waited.Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation. Dear friends, Isaiah’s beautiful words of hope fulfilled opened the meeting of our newly-restored Jerusalem community this morning.  Yes–how long have we been talking about… Read more »

Until we meet again

Dear coworkers, Last week’s great battle for the life of Shakar for Kurdistan ended with the Father’s glorious verdict: Shakar will be raised up on the last day. And this week we were right back into the fight. This time for beautiful baby Reem from the Gaza Strip: Reem arrived in Israel the night of… Read more »

Faithful to the heavenly vision

Dear coworkers, It was Monday morning that doctors in Israel discovered that Shakar, a not yet one year old boy from Kurdistan with Down syndrome, appeared to be dying from multiple organ failure. He hadn’t even had the heart surgery yet that he came for. It was amazing to see how the body of Messiah… Read more »

24-hour prayer signup for Shakar

Dear friends, Yesterday at our morning meeting, Jonathan shared that what we wanted to extract from scripture is not a theological or intellectual understanding, but one of practical understanding and application. After thinking about this statement for a few hours, the Holy Spirit  sifted through my mind and brought me to this conclusion:  What good… Read more »

Hope

Dear coworkers, We got news early this morning that Shakar from Kurdistan was due to be taken into an emergency surgery in Israel today. The hospital staff had seen blood coming from nose, mouth and also in his nappy, and so he was taken into surgery to look at the bowel.  The surgeons came to… Read more »

Our time to invest is short

Dear coworkers, We’re just back from a 48-hour team-building retreat near Bethlehem for the long-term members of the community. Our goal as we head into this new year of service: to love each other with humble hearts, and to share about our strengths and weaknesses without judgment, so we can be built up together into… Read more »

The LORD is yashar

Dear coworkers, Again and again and again we are being tested. The calls come in from Gaza: a newborn baby is between life and death. Only emergency surgery in Israel can save them. No one else is willing to take financial responsibility. Will you? It’s hammering into us obedience to the command of Jesus which… Read more »

The gospel from Israel

Dear coworkers, I’ve kept you up to date in recent weeks as the Lord appears to be unlocking the vast potental of Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem to become a blessing to all the families of the Middle East. Now the story has broken into the Arabic and Hebrew media in Israel. Our Gaza coordinator… Read more »

Small in the world’s eyes

Dear friends, More evidence this week that the Lord may be calling Hadassah into the circle of hospitals that are blessing Israel’s neighbors. Newborn Hassan was between life and death in Gaza this week, but Sunday, Monday and Tuesday rolled by without any space opening up in the ICUs of our partners at the Wolfson… Read more »

She knows who healed her son

Dear coworkers, Two weeks ago I wrote you about the Syrian refugee baby Mohammed. His acceptance broke open again the doors to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where management agreed to evaluate Mohammed, although skeptical that he could still be helped after being neglected for so long. Well this week doctors performed the fateful catheterization to… Read more »

The power of intercession

Dear coworkers, When we think of intercession–moving God through prayer on behalf of others–the name Rees Howells may come to mind. His widely-read biography was titled simply “Intercessor.” His son Samuel, left behind by his parents as an infant so they could serve in Africa, later followed in his father’s footsteps and served as director… Read more »

Watch Him Show Up

Dear coworkers, Just a few hours after I post this letter,  the long-neglected Syrian refugee baby Mohammed will start moving toward the border of Israel: Mohammed was diagnosed already at age three months with severe pulmonary hyptertension caused by two holes in his little heart. For over a year he’s lain forgotten by all but… Read more »

Back to Jerusalem?

Dear coworkers, When this picture was taken just before the start of the Sabbath, I didn’t realize we may be looking at the next Shevet Achim base in Jerusalem: What caught my eye at first was the Russian Church of the Ascension, at top left, the highest point on the Mount of Olives, with a… Read more »

Before our bridegroom comes

Dear coworkers, Do you remember that last Sunday Sophie earnestly called us to pray for Lana from Kurdistan, the only child of a single mom, as she headed into a relatively high-risk heart surgery? Sophie told us that she grew up in a similar household, so she could understood how much Lana means to her… Read more »

God met us in a new and real way

Dear coworkers, For two months doctors in Israel have fought non-stop for the precious life of Wareen, a soon to be one-year-old from Kurdistan with Down syndrome: They’ve taken her through two open-heart surgeries and a lengthy hospitalization to fight off a virus. It appears by God’s grace they are winning the battle.  But until… Read more »

This is your chance

Dear coworkers, It’s been a whirlwind week since last Sunday’s letter, when we prayed that the Father would raise up a local leader to help baby Reem get from a mattress on the floor of her Gaza home into an ICU bed in Israel: The next day we heard from Lucy in Suffolk, England: My… Read more »

On a mattress on the floor in Gaza

Dear friends, I’m sitting tonight looking out from the top floor of the home we’ve been blessed to rent for families and volunteers by the Jaffa seafront. It’s such a beautiful and relaxing area–even the name of the street (Margoa) translates as “pacifying.” Yet the spirit reminds me that 45 minutes down the coast some… Read more »

Shevet Pentecost: A new community

The Shavuot/Pentecost holy day has ended here in Israel with the setting of the sun: I snapped this picture just as we finished our annual community gathering for worship and study about Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit; the three Kurdish families in the foreground are returning from the beach to join us for a… Read more »

Please don’t send a contribution

Dear coworkers, Several months ago our Australian coworker Rodney encouraged us to create a “Shevet Updates” group on WhatsApp, to which community members can post photos of meaningful events throughout the day, and others can comment and give glory to God. Some days it’s just amazing to watch the works of our Father rolling by… Read more »

A lovely little cohort

Dear coworkers, Two-year-old Zhya arrived in Israel from Kurdistan this evening, recognizable right away in the airport by one of the chief characteristics of a Down syndrome child: joy! Zhya has a diagnosis of AV canal, as well as Down syndrome. We have a lovely little cohort of children with these diagnoses here at the… Read more »

Those Who Want to be Transformed

For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you  Dear coworkers, An extraordinary exodus of children left our community this week, all healed and joyfully returning to their families.  Ahmed was the first to roll out on… Read more »

To Whom Your Intercession Rises

A week ago I shared with you how newborn Roman from Kurdistan had just arrived in Israel through many perils: the long wait through the Passover holiday for his visa, his deterioration during transit at the Amman airport, the loss of contact as he and his mother (who speaks no Arabic) were taken off for… Read more »

The Most Important Thing You Could Do

Dear coworkers, As news was breaking this morning of the barrage of hundreds of missiles hitting Israel, one of the first pictures I saw was of a white van hit by an anti-tank missile at the Erez crossing point: It looked so much like one of our white Hyundai vans that are almost daily bringing… Read more »

To Transform an Enemy into a Friend

Bret Stephens’ recent essay sums up a lot of what’s wrong in Gaza (click on the headline below to read): Yes, the whole world is often in an uproar on behalf of our beloved neighbors in Gaza, and that’s good.  But the hard truth is that–unless Israel is indeed to blame–a child can be left… Read more »

An Outing to the Garden Tomb

Today the families journeyed down the road to visit the Garden Tomb. For some families it was a new experience, while for others it was the second time they went to the beautiful garden. After everyone was shuttled from Shevet Achim to the tomb, we joined together to listen to a description of the thousands… Read more »

A Visit with the Howanstines

So much of what we do at here Shevet Achim could not be done without the support of our amazing brothers and sisters around the world. Therefore, we consider it a great privilege when we have the opportunity to meet those of you who partner with us and share with you a bit of our… Read more »

You Bring Restoration

This past weekend, Shevet Achim staff were presented with a beautiful gift…the gift of restoration. On Thursday afternoon, we packed up and headed north to the shores of Galilee for a community-wide retreat, hosted by a lovely Welsh couple named Erik and Mary Fok. Their ministry Breakfast on the Beach seeks to provide an environment… Read more »

A Tired Love

Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. I’m spending it in the Middle East. And as the day approaches I am mentally and emotionally bombarded with living examples of love and hatred. The church service we may decide to attend regularly meets on Saturday morning–the Shabbat. There are many… Read more »

Love Rather Than Stereotypes

This big man I saw at the Wolfson Hospital today is Ayman Al Kurdi. He is a Kurdish gentleman from Iraq living in Gaza for five generations now. He has seven children, the youngest is in second grade and the oldest two are married. His first grandchild is a little boy who looks just like… Read more »

Wandering (Voluntarily) in the Wilderness

This is a photo essay of a weekend that five Shevet volunteers spent together this December in the desert – Micha, Caroline, Kristina, Stephanie, and myself, Ryan. We were in Makhtesh Ramon in the arid south of the country, and had three brilliant days. We’ll let the pictures do the talking. P.S. Your aesthetic experience… Read more »

A God Who Loves Life

Last Sunday, six Shevet volunteers joined four of our Kurdish families on an expedition to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo! None of the children or their mothers had ever enjoyed such an experience before. So, it was a delight to view God’s creatures in the company of their fresh curiosity and wonder. The afternoon sun had… Read more »

A Gift from God

The month of June brought with it warm summer days, and a special addition to our community from the shores of Stolkholm, Sweden. Tara Azizi (second from right below) became the very first Kurdish volunteer to serve with us in Jerusalem. Having heard of Shevet in Sweden last year, Tara later shared that she felt… Read more »

A Gift for All Mankind

 A view of Bethlehem and Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour With Christmas quickly approaching, my child-like sense of wonder returns like a dear old friend. I love this season and everything in it that points toward the mystery of Emmanuel, God with us. I remember playing the part of an angel in my church’s Christmas… Read more »

Arms of Love for Donna

I met Donna Petrel ten years ago while on a trip to the US to speak about helping Gaza children with heart surgeries. When I flew back to Israel a week later, I was detained at the airport by the Interior Ministry, a victim of the policy to limit visiting non-Jews to a maximum stay… Read more »

An Evening to Remember With Our Partners

Since Shevet Achim first began in 1994, we have had the privilege of working alongside some amazing health professionals from Wolfson Medical Center. Many of these physicians and nurses have been serving faithfully for years, devoting countless hours to provide hope for children with broken hearts from around the world. But it’s not just time… Read more »

Dolls for Kids

The effort to save the lives of children through Shevet Achim is truly international. It begins with an Arab partner physician in either Gaza Strip or Iraq, who gives a diagnosis of the child’s heart defect. The next phase is transport to an Israeli hospital, overseen by Shevet Achim’s international staff. At the hospital it… Read more »

Kids Pulling for Kids

It’s not just adults pulling for the kids at Shevet Achim to make it through open heart surgery – other kids are pulling too. Third and fourth grade students at Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Mountain View, California pray on a regular basis for the children at Shevet – some of whom are also in… Read more »

En Gedi Adventure

On Friday, the sixteenth of August, thirteen members of our Shevet community set out to traverse the desert oasis of En Gedi. Jerusalem’s bustling city streets faded in the distance, while a vast lunar landscape stretched out before us. The highway wound southward like a black ribbon, skirting the Dead Sea’s iridescent shores, then inland… Read more »

Shevet at the Summit

THE SUMMIT IS REACHED!!! Despite the steady rain and the swirling mist that accompanied them all the way to the top, a very delighted and relieved team of seven celebrated accomplishing their mission of reaching the top of Ben Nevis… …and then immediately tucking into a very welcome snack lunch of soggy sandwiches, fruit and… Read more »

Tel Aviv Night Run

  Three Shevet community members set out from Jerusalem to run in the Tel Aviv Night Run: Marisa, Sonia, and I. Along to cheer us on were Ruth, Sophie, Sarah, Kristina and Rahel. The goal: for each of us to sponsor the outstanding surgical expenses for one child. We let family and friends know of… Read more »

Love Which Flows From Truth

“In Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Just the other day, I was sharing with a couple of visitors about the various aspects of life and service at Shevet Achim. It’s true that we seek ways to love our neighbours and anyone who passes through our door. This outward demonstration of… Read more »

More Than We Ask or Imagine

This week our Shevet community was enriched by the visit of Giovanni and Simone, father and son from Italy. Giovanni came for a medical consultation at a private clinic in Tel Aviv. For most of us our communication was limited due to language barriers. However, it didn’t take much time to feel that we had… Read more »

Visit to the Jerusalem Zoo

“So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it… And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds…” (Genesis 1:21). Last Thursday we saw all types of God’s creatures in Jerusalem’s zoo: big and small, colorful… Read more »

The King’s City in White

Waking up Thursday morning was a thrill, as snowfall had already begun its descent upon Jerusalem. What started as a gentle snowfall steadily picked up momentum and turned into a full-on snowstorm, transforming Prophets Street into a frozen parking lot: Local newspapers called it the “worst snow storm in Jerusalem in decades,” with most estimates… Read more »

Treasures in Earthen Vessels

When a new child comes through our door for the first time, I often wonder what kind of an impact our community will have on his or her life. More times than not, however, it is the children themselves who make the greatest impact on our lives. Through them, I have learned what it looks… Read more »