Prayer Update

Where does my help come from?

Dear praying friends,  We have homes and hospitals filled with action it seems at the moment! Our coworker Margarita in Jerusalem is busy visiting two children from Gaza at Hadassah Medical Center. Ayham is a tiny newborn baby, rushed to Jerusalem on Friday for a life-saving catheterisation procedure, and now awaiting surgery to switch his great arteries:… Read more »

Be still my soul

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever—Psalm 107:1 Dear friends, What a week it has been here in our Shevet community! Through a busy week of highs and lows, we have truly seen God’s faithful love again and again. After six months in Israel, the premature Yazidi triplet Hena and… Read more »

18 families in our care this week

Dear friends, Ahmed T and his mother left for Kurdistan yesterday after his successful surgery, shedding tears of joy and thankfulness. Upon leaving they encountered a delay in their flight to Istanbul and missed their connecting flight. Ahmed’s mother handled these unexpected challenges with courage, and God willing, they will be on their way to Kurdistan… Read more »

A one kg (two pound) baby from Gaza

Dear friends, As this week comes to an end there is much to thank God for and much to pray for: Mohammed M is going home to Kurdistan at this hour! At his final echo this week, his cardiologist said that while his condition is not perfect, he is leaving much better than when he first… Read more »

Hena finally to surgery

Dear friends, It is Thursday evening in Israel and this day alone has been so full. The holidays have finished so yesterday and today were back to the normal working schedule. The Yazidi triplet Hena, who came to Israel in April when she was just two months old, had the second and final surgery of her… Read more »

Dina is a miracle

Dear friends, 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: The staff at Sheba gave Dina quite a send-off… Read more »

A glorious day

Dear praying friends, 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. After all these weeks of tests in the hospital, they explained that it… Read more »

Help of the helpless

Dear praying friends, Today in our morning meeting we gathered and read John chapter 6, and we came to think how this describes Jesus’ life becoming our own, if only we humbly accept it and drink in, deeply.  Joanne, one of our new community members, led us in worship before our reading with a beautiful… Read more »

The strength of our hearts

Dear praying friends, It is from a happy and content morning, spent with two good-natured and peaceful Kurdish mothers sitting out on our balcony, that I am writing this prayer letter. Thank God that through all this difficult period of waiting for these mothers of Lava and Ahmed–and I will include the uncle of Hena… Read more »

Eight urgent children flying tonight

Dear praying friends, Nate and Colin are making last-minute preparations at this hour in preparation to fly tonight with eight new Kurdish children to Israel. They all need urgent life-saving heart surgeries, and two of them, Mohammed A and Marya, we are asking to be hospitalized upon arrival as they require oxygen. The others are… Read more »

Asmeen on her way home

Dear praying friends, This week has seen the arrival and departure of two much-prayed-for Kurdish patients. 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: And as I write they are enroute to Ben Gurion airport in an ambulance which will transfer them from… Read more »

Dina still very weak

Dear friends, The week began with the cleft-palate child Dina from Kurdistan in emergency surgery late on Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning, as doctors tried to find and control post-surgical bleeding in her heart. Dina is still very weak, but has come through this her third heart surgery and is now breathing on… Read more »

Keep going, keep hoping, keep believing

Dear friends, Please pray for Mohammed E. from Gaza. He came to the Sheba Medical Center almost nine months ago for repair of a hole in his heart, but doctors also found severe problems in many of his bodily systems. They’ve withheld no effort since then in trying to heal Mohammed, but this week reached the point where… Read more »

Teaching us in each season

Dear friends, Please join us this week in prayer: For Shadi’s family – His mother left Israel (above left) yesterday and arrived home in Kurdistan today, to a different life from what she had been dearly hoping for, following Shadi’s death on Sunday. Please pray for the Spirit of God to surround and comfort her… Read more »

How beautiful is the work of God

Dear friends, Ishi Xwa chen khosha — “How beautiful is the work of God.” These were the words of Shadi’s mother on the day of his surgery, referring to his unique combination of heart defects; not only are his arteries are reversed but also the lower chambers of his heart. Because of his double-backwards anatomy, the… Read more »

God of all comforts

Dear friends, There is no more beautiful way to open this letter than with the news that Sulaiman had his chest closed on Sunday, was extubated yesterday and today was moved to the step-down unit of the ICU, to his mother’s great joy! So our Father is redeeming Sulaiman from the damaging consequences of his long… Read more »

A cry of the heart

Dear praying friends, Yesterday we received this message from Colin in Kurdistan, regarding the young man Mohammed who is close to dying from complications of his childhood heart defect: So far Mohammed has twice been denied a visa to enter Israel for treatment. At 33 years old, he is no longer a child and yet… Read more »

Death and life in the ICU

Dear friends, “Ayan, gyan, three months!” Two weeks ago Ayan’s mother marked his three months of life by decorating his hospital bed; she used candy and forks to write the number three: This past week she was asking “Hiwa hiya?” (There is hope?) as Ayan was taken off the ECMO machine after he had not… Read more »

No longer strangers

Dear friends, So much is happening every day that even yesterday seems like a long time ago! We’ll often have to ask each other whether something happened just yesterday or last week. So it seems like forever ago that we were praying for the nine new children’s visas, and before that the nine previous urgent… Read more »

Stand firm

Dear praying friends, In Exodus 15 Moses and the people of Israel praise the Lord with joyful hearts, as they have come to know Him as their rescuer: I will sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; You have guided… Read more »

A flow of praise and gratitude

Dear praying friends, This week began with another new opportunity to trust in God, and remember that we are living in His kingdom, and working in His strength. The families of Haveen, Meera, Samaa and Big Yousef returned to Kurdistan, each with a different story of their time spent in Israel. Three healthy children and… Read more »

A candle against the darkness

Dear friends, Seven of the nine Iraqi children who’ve waited for so long are now with us in Israel! Six of the most urgent, who all need correction of transposition of the great arteries, already have had first evaluations at the Sheba Medical Center: Yadgar was dressed in his finest clothes, which included a waistcoat and… Read more »

The great Bridge Builder

Dear friends, Firstly, thank God for the approval today of the nine new Kurdish children, seven of whom need emergency surgery to switch their great arteries: They will arrive next week, we think in two groups and the first will travel on Sunday via the the Jordan border. While they have been verbally approved we… Read more »

As the sirens blared

Dear friends, Our daily circumstances don’t always feel remarkable, but this week we saw in a new way the incredible significance of a Jewish surgeon performing a cardiac surgery for a baby from the Gaza Strip–even as the rocket sirens blared throughout Tel Aviv and the surrounding cities. Yesterday baby Ghena had a ten-hour surgery to repair… Read more »

Just look at her mother’s face

Dear friends, One of the Kurdish parents said that you don’t have to ask how Salwa is doing, just look at her mother’s face (below middle) and you’ll know! This week has brought immense improvement for Salwa; it began with her weaning from the ECMO machine on Sunday even as she was still unstable. Then… Read more »

Good news to the poor

Dear friends, Georgia and I watched the newest episode of The Chosen on Saturday night, in which Jesus comes back to his camp completely exhausted and worn. He looks utterly spent after a day of healing hundreds of people, as if he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. And one only needs to look at paintings or… Read more »

The difference it will mean

Dear friends, Thank you for praying for the needs of our community; as seven more urgent children’s visa applications are going in to the Ministry of the Interior, we bear in mind the difference it will mean for each of those lives if everything is approved in the next weeks. Please firstly pray that it… Read more »

Something we will all remember

Dear friends, Our beautiful Meera had her second surgery this week, after a first preparatory surgery. When the doctors first saw the extreme complexities of her heart, I remember thinking: Will there be something they can do to help her? So really praise God that the cardiologists and surgeons have been able to save her life, and that she… Read more »

Live the impossible

Dear friends, Since last week’s Shevet Prayer we’ve received eight new Kurdish families. Yousif, Lia, Yousef, Samaa, and Meena crossed by land from Jordan into Israel on Monday: And Salwa, Khanda and Maili arrived this afternoon also by land, following a warm welcome in Jordan by new Shevet friend Elizabeth: Because of a deterioration in her condition while traveling, Khanda was taken straight to… Read more »

Whom do you seek?

Dear friends, In John’s gospel Jesus asks a twice-recurrent question which bookends his crucifixion. “Whom do you seek?” he asks the guards who came to arrest him on Passover night in the garden of Gethsemane. He asks this same question of Mary, his disciple, friend, and first witness to his resurrection, in the garden of… Read more »

The upside-down kingdom

Dear friends, In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says something quite well-known: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” This may seem commonsense or even trite; of course this is how we should be treating others. But is… Read more »

Where Messiah is

Dear friends, As this week comes to a close Paul’s letter to the Colossians has been a consistent prayer through the very busy and long days: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven… Read more »

Effectively at work

Dear friends, At the beginning of the week, the likelihood of our six discharged Kurdish children traveling through Jordan home to Iraq seemed very small. Their flights through Ben Gurion airport for this week and next were canceled, and we were trying to plan how to deal with the impending arrival of six new Kurdish… Read more »

With him in paradise

Dear friends, In the ninth grade my English class read The Pearl, a novella by the American author John Steinbeck. I still remember my teacher belaboring a specific passage in which the protagonist watches an ant caught in a trap. His cool observation of the doomed creature is described as him watching with ‘the detachment of… Read more »

Be not dismayed

Dear praying friends, Thank God that he is with us, and thank you for praying for us. It is very encouraging to know that there are always people holding not only the needs of our families, but also us as a community in prayer. We have at our Jaffa house many families waiting for the… Read more »

What he can do with dust

Dear friends, Georgia and I brought three families to Jerusalem for the day this past Sunday. While they were visiting the mosque on the Temple Mount, we spent a few minutes in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher: Usually the enclosed courtyard is full of people milling around before entering the church but… Read more »

Our primary identity

Dear praying friends, Thank you for supporting us all here.  As our coworker Amar reminded me this morning, we are in a spiritual battle, not against flesh and blood, so to know that there are others across the world faithfully standing with us and our families is encouraging and important. Our staff numbers are quite… Read more »

This is my story

Dear friends, There is a Shevet tradition for new volunteers to share the story of how they became followers of Jesus, and while the five of us now in Jaffa have been here for months and years, we have started one day a week to share in the morning meeting the story of how the… Read more »

So dearly to redeem

Dear friends, As I wrote this letter word came that the Gaza baby Besan, who came urgently last week, died in surgery. As we waited with her for the death certificate the mother told us her baby’s life story; how Besan’s name was chosen, how she was after her birth but before she went to the… Read more »

Wiser eyes than mine

Dear friends, Looking back at the end of every week there is always so much that has happened; while we see in part what God is doing, his mind is such that we are only ever partially aware of what He is doing in ourselves and those around us. The total significance of events and… Read more »

Now choose life

Dear friends, In the morning meeting this week we read from the end of Luke chapter ten, together with a Gaza mother staying with us. This well-known story tells of Martha opening her house to Jesus and his disciples. At some point she asks Jesus to tell off her sister Mary for sitting at his… Read more »

How to share our lives

Dear praying friends, As we studied the scriptures together this week, we meditated on these words in James: But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 Please pray with us that we would receive this wisdom, and be… Read more »

The new is breaking in

Dear friends, After John the Baptist was imprisoned, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the Messiah. Jesus replies by quoting Isaiah: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are… Read more »

Healing in his wings

Dear friends, Thank you so much for praying for the Shevet community. Since I am in quarantine in Jaffa for the next week, Georgia and I have talked about what God has been doing in their lives amidst five new families coming, bringing us to a total of nine Kurdish families. She says that God… Read more »

He remains faithful

Dear praying friends, Thank God for the great promises of life with Jesus: The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—… Read more »

Lifting Alaa to the Father

Dear praying friends, Thank you for joining with us this week in intercession. Firstly for Alaa, who returned unexpectedly this week to Israel, very unwell following his heart surgery. He is in critical condition and on life support (the ECMO device) for four days now. Doctors report very slight improvement in his heart function, and will… Read more »

Upon this rock may we stand

Dear praying friends, Our new German coworkers Sebastian and Sabrina are about a month into the fullness of life at Shevet Achim. As we, the three Europeans, discussed the idea of a “hot Christmas,” away from everything we have been familiar with at this time of year, Sebastian described it as feeling like living in… Read more »

A motley crew giving thanks

Dear friends, In our community today we are celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s not a familiar holiday for many of us, but as members of God’s family it is a joy to have a holiday specifically centered around gratitude. Just as an ungrateful heart is a marker of those who are ungodly and unrighteous (Romans 1.18-21), so… Read more »

Restore our joy

Greetings from our Jaffa community, and thank you for praying with us. We have been working our way through God’s designs for the tabernacle in the book of Exodus. Today we read in chapter 30 about the holy incense to be offered on the altar, which led us to think about how we should be… Read more »

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 Dear praying friends, Thank you for your faithful intercession for the health and lives of the patients we receive here, and for the wellbeing of our little community. I returned this week to Jaffa after almost three… Read more »

Dawn begins to break

Dear friends, Over the past few months I’ve gotten into the habit of waking up early to go for a run as the sun rises, not chiefly as a regimental requirement but because watching the sunrise communicates the beauty and the goodness of God. There is something addictive about starting to run when it is… Read more »

Breaking bread together

Dear friends, It feels like it is a season of waiting, and we ask that you would join us in prayer for trusting in God’s perfect timing. The hospital is at full capacity, caring for children in need of critical care, including Ziad and Fayez who are currently in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at… Read more »

As warm as tears

Dear friends, Yesterday the few of us in the morning meeting discussed how our conception of God must be shaped by the Bible, rather than by presuppositions we impose on Scripture as to how we think God should act. This was such a good way to start the day, rehashing truth that should continually reorient… Read more »

Created to flourish

Dear friends, Maybe for the first time I’ve realized that in all the critiques I’ve heard of our faith, “it’s too good to be true” isn’t one I’ve come across (which of course doesn’t mean it isn’t out there). But this week I’ve been sitting with how in Jesus “all the fullness of the deity… Read more »

The garden of redemption

Dear friends, I want to start by saying thank you for praying for Ziad, pictured here with me a week and a half ago: Ziad’s surgery a week ago today turned into an endless night. It started at 8:30 in the morning, and his mother was only able to see him at midnight. The surgery… Read more »

In good times and bad

You are God alone from before time began You were on Your throne You are God alone and right now In the good times and bad You are on Your throne And you are God alone Unchangeable, unshakable, unstoppable That’s what You are (You are God Alone) For God alone, O my soul, wait in… Read more »

A sudden happy turn

I coined the word “eucatastrophe”: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your… Read more »

What does the LORD require?

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my… Read more »

A mother’s sorrow

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the… Read more »

Costly inconvenient love

Dear friends, As we write the ten Kurdish families, long stranded in Israel by coronavirus travel restrictions, are in the Cairo airport and awaiting one last flight to finally bring them home to their loved ones late tonight. We have just heard from them after eight hours of silence since they landed in Cairo, and all… Read more »

Losing our lives for his sake

Dear friends, In chapter 27 of Matthew the gospel writer goes into specific detail of the events of Jesus’ death. In particular he mentions accessories with which the Romans sought to mock Jesus: the scarlet robe, the crown of thorns, the reed in place of a scepter, and the plaque above the cross which read… Read more »

Our trust is the LORD

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not… Read more »

Make your requests known to God

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will… Read more »

The peace of Messiah

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect… Read more »

The hope of Eden ahead

Dear friends, As we continue through Genesis in our morning meetings, an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces has summarized a key plot theme of the book thus far: “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing–to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from…Do you… Read more »

He who sees us

Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are God Who Sees”; for she said, “Have I not even here [in the wilderness] remained alive after seeing Him [who sees me with understanding and compassion]?” Genesis 16:13 Dear praying friends, This morning our coworker Amar opened our community Bible study… Read more »

Love endures all things

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Dear friends,  I am writing to you after a hard week for Shevet Achim. Our main prayer request is that God will open up the way for our weary Kurdish families to return home. It continues to be difficult… Read more »

We do not face trouble alone

Dear friends, In “Letters to Malcolm” C.S. Lewis writes something that has been invaluable in my prayer life. The chapter is a recollection of one friend to another when they were walking in a forest: “You first taught me the great principle, ‘Begin where you are.’ I had thought one had to start by summoning… Read more »

Display his perfect patience

I thank him who has given me strength, Messiah Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith… Read more »

Let there be light

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Then God said “Let there be light,” and there was light. Dear friends, We started the book of Genesis this morning in our… Read more »

Ready to listen

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Psalm 61:1-3 Dear friends, When I read this psalm immediately… Read more »

Meeting, Eating, Sharing

Dear friends, As we read through Acts this month it’s almost impossible to miss the theme of community. It seems like every time there’s a move of the Holy Spirit, you find believers naturally come together–meeting, eating and sharing everything they have. In fact, the whole operation of the early church depends on this. The… Read more »

Friends of the bridegroom

The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease. Dear friends, The ministry of John the Baptist was decreasing, and that of Jesus was… Read more »

Preparing for Pentecost

Dear friends, At the Jaffa base we’ve been studying Acts as Pentecost Sunday nears; the Greek word used to describe the Holy Spirit is worth examining. The word is parakletos, which in extra-biblical literature was used for a legal assistant, someone who pleads the cause of a defendant before a judge. (It’s something similar to… Read more »

Where our treasure is

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Messiah. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Messiah Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Messiah and… Read more »

Traitors whom he mended

Dear friends, On my laptop I have a piece of paper taped by the keyboard, with a quote from the Chronicles of Narnia: “But even a traitor may mend, I have known one that did.” These words were spoken in the third book by Edmund, speaking of himself–mended because the true king of Narnia went… Read more »

His love endures forever

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for His steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His steadfast love endures forever; To Him who alone does great wonders, for His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm… Read more »

Healing for the nations

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this… Read more »

Your God reigns

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen – they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see… Read more »

Prayer update – By his spirit

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and… Read more »

Looking toward Gethsemane

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit… For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give… Read more »

His glory in our valleys

Dear friends, Today Ruth, Anna, Markus, and Colin organized a painting activity with the families. They sent pictures to our group chat and as I flipped through there was one that deeply moved me: it was Maryam’s mother holding a painting with the words, “if the god was with us who can be against us.”… Read more »

Hills and valleys

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Dear friends, As Jesus teaches the crowd on the mountainside, as recorded in Matthew 5, he completely changes the idea of what it is to be blessed. Jesus introduces his upside-down kingdom in… Read more »

Large petitions with thee bring

Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Dear friends, The women going to the tomb on Sunday morning were expecting a body, not angels telling them that Jesus was not… Read more »