Shevet Sunday


More stringent than the Torah

Dear coworkers, The names jumped off the medical reports received this week for two emergency newborns from the Gaza Strip. These appeared to be clans well-known in Israel for past involvement in suicide bombings and abductions. How should we respond? This touches on one of the most distinctive teachings of Jesus: “You have heard that… Read more »

New hearts, new home

Dear coworkers, When I wrote you last Sunday newborn Zaed from Gaza was hours away from his life-saving heart surgery at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center. Tonight Margarita and Berith picked him up from the hospital–his pulmonary artery reconstructed, a shunt in place, and needing no medications other than aspirin: When he was rolled back in… Read more »

Opening of the heavens

Dear friends, After I wrote you last Sunday I left for the airport for my scheduled flight to return to Israel. I entered the departures hall with some confidence, went to a kiosk, and just succeeded to type in my name and reservation number. Red lights on the kiosk started flashing and airline personnel were… Read more »

Not our wisdom but his

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. Dear friends, I said farewell to my… Read more »

Only the Spirit brings reconciliation

Dear friends, Thank you for praying and caring for the three babies in Gaza, who as I wrote in last Sunday’s letter were refused transportation to life-saving medical care by their own government, as a form of protest against Israel’s proposed annexation. By God’s grace our Gaza coordinating team of Yousef, Amar and Lindsay persevered… Read more »

Many will be made righteous

Dear coworkers, This week we’re seeing one of those uniquely clarifying moments in the Middle East. Baby Omar from Gaza was much loved by the women of our community ever since he came to Israel as a newborn for emergency heart surgery in October: Omar’s second surgery was planned for last month, but was delayed… Read more »

In search of first-century Jerusalem

Dear friends, Last week our community somehow got free for a full day (thank you Amar, Lindsay and River for watching over the recovering children and their escorts in Jaffa), and we set out in search of first century Jerusalem: Yes, by God’s grace we were allowed by the Greek Orthodox caretaker to enter the… Read more »

2019 is history!

Dear coworkers, I flew into the US Friday to join up with my wife Michelle and visit parents, children and grandchildren. On the last flight leg I sat across the aisle from a young black man, about 50% larger than me, twirling his dreadlocks. As we were waiting to deplane I put aside my reticence… Read more »

The end is near

Dear friends, The end is near…but not yet. It feels like the world is exhaling a long breath of relief this weekend. Coronavirus infections haven’t spiked since Europe loosened lockdowns. And a month since the New York Times claimed the US government was privately projecting “The daily death toll will reach about 3,000 on June… Read more »

Faithful to the Torah

Dear friends, It was a beautiful and yet a painful Pentecost/Shavuot in the heart of Jerusalem this morning: As you’ll hear in the video above, the bells of the Russian Orthodox church were declaring the glory of God! But competing with them were jackhammers and traffic from the adjacent construction site. Yes–incredibly–the people of Israel… Read more »

Death is temporary. Love is eternal.

Dear coworkers, This morning I had to tell our partners at the Sheba Medical Center that baby Mahmoud has died back in Gaza. The Sheba team fought for his life from his arrival in Israel as a two-day-old at the end of January, until he was finally well enough to go home at the end… Read more »

A friend in time of trouble

Dear coworkers, One reason our community has survived these 25 years is the Father’s gift of a handful of experienced and faithful brothers who have stood by us as board members. I meet with one of them regularly for accountability, encouragement and prayer, and he has a list of pointed questions which he asks me… Read more »

Love and truth meet together

Dear coworkers, Today we’ve completed four weeks out of the seven-week countdown from First Fruits/Resurrection to Pentecost/Shavuot. And it appears that our ultra-Orthodox neighbors in Jerusalem are much more excited about this “counting of the omer” than we are. Today they were out in the streets protesting the ban on gatherings on the 33rd day… Read more »

In the presence of his brethren

Dear coworkers, The same old traffic jam was back on the way to our Jaffa base this morning. Schools and workplaces are reopening, and people are nearly free to move about now in Israel. There’s growing and irresistible pressure here (as is likely wherever this letter finds you as well) to get back to something… Read more »

Missing page between the testaments

Dear coworkers, You’d think that after nearly two months of coronavirus lockdowns that we’d be running out of children coming to Israel for life-saving heart surgeries. A couple of hospitals that normally help care for Gaza children in truth have closed their doors due to the crisis; but surprisingly that means that our work is… Read more »

A day honored by the Torah

  Dear friends, Our coworker Markus tonight sent us the time-lapse video above from our Jaffa community with the caption: Beautiful end of a beautiful Resurrection Sunday. It’s been a full week for our faithful Jaffa team of just 11 volunteers who have remained despite the coronavirus. With the discharge of Kurdish Adleen after her… Read more »

Resolute in our call

Dear coworkers, Lord hasten the day that “coronavirus” never again appears in our Sunday letter! But until that day it is drastically affecting us all. Two of the hospitals that perform heart surgeries on Gaza children (Wolfson in Holon and Makassed in East Jerusalem) have stopped accepting children all together. And today Georgia reports that… Read more »

This is our hour

Dear coworkers, Yousef and I had to explain our way past an Israeli police checkpoint in Jerusalem this morning. And Mohammed’s mother did the same to get past the Hamas checkpoint in the Gaza Strip. But thank God, we met just past noon at the nearly-abandoned Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza, and by 2… Read more »

Our only comfort

Dear friends, Nine much-loved coworkers were forced to leave Israel this past week, over concerns that the ongoing collapse of international air travel would have kept them from returning home as required in the coming weeks and months: Anne and Don to the UK on Monday; Almuth, Johanna, Jana, Joela and Lisa to Germany on… Read more »

Carry one another’s burdens

Dear friends, Following her birthday dinner tonight, our office coordinator Luzma texted that we could all slow down a bit tomorrow since it is election day in Israel: I share this window into the souls of our coworkers to help us all to cherish them and to pray for them. Today they had 17 children… Read more »

Leaders for the harvest

Dear coworkers, On Wednesday, thank God, we were able to pay off all of our 2019 commitments to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, and we are poised to go forward with them in 2020 if God wills. This comes after we paid over half our commitments two weeks ago to the Sheba Medical Center in Tel… Read more »

Blessed is the man

Dear coworkers, When we consider adding new members to our community, we look for those who feel an instant heart connection to Shevet Achim when they first hear of what the Lord is doing here. To them, in the spirit, it is exciting and alive! They know it is for them. For others, who are… Read more »

Why do you cry to me?

Dear friends, We were asked to walk again through the valley of the shadow of death this weekend. 16-year-old Mustafa barely survived his heart surgery six weeks ago. Since then there seemed to be slow and steady progress in the ICU, until Friday afternoon; his mother was praying on the Temple Mount when the call… Read more »

As the almond awakes

Dear coworkers, We’re closely watching the almond tree in the courtyard of our Jerusalem guesthouse this week, as it’s right on the verge of bursting into glorious blossoms:  The Hebrew name for this tree could be translated as “watcher” or “waker,” for it is the first to awaken out of winter’s sleep. Remember how Jeremiah… Read more »