Friends, brothers, and sisters,
Greetings from those of us in Ashdod.
This was another week of introduction for our community. We welcomed Mark and Aishah and their two beautiful daughters Abigail and Hannah to our community this week; it has been a long and tumultuous road for them coming from Holland, with many unexpected setbacks, but the Lord has faithfully made the way straight.
It is a new dynamic for many of us in this community to have an entire family join us; but we have already been blessed by them, and it is great joy for us to hear the laughter of their girls through the workday.
But it is not the way of Messiah, this focus on our own rights first and foremost; it is not the mindset of the man who emptied himself and took on the form of a servant. From the same passage in Philippians, Paul tells us: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Any parent (and perhaps anyone who has deeply loved another person) will tell you that the needs of their child become more important than their own needs. This is, I think, a sign of real love, when you forget yourself because of the loved other. And is that not the kind of sacrificial love that Messiah calls us to have for one another?
The skeptic will say that this opens us up to abuse, makes us vulnerable, and that is certainly true. Pursuing the needs of others above our own does make us very vulnerable. But see a beautiful truth: when people love each other and mutually sacrifice for one another, then by their mutual sacrifice they hold each other up. This achieves the same thing the individualistic model achieves—personal needs being met—but unlike the individualist, it achieves it through a relationship of holy love, and so it is redeemed.
And how beautiful it is when not just two people, but a whole community does that same thing: sacrificing our personal needs for the sake of those around us, and thus sustaining one another in love. Friends, that, I think, is one of the most central truths of life in the church.
I’ll start off our prayer requests this week by asking you all to pray for Yaman from Kurdistan, who just yesterday was rushed to the Hadassah ER when his health took a turn for the worse after his surgery discharge.
Loai from Gaza also needs our prayer in Hadassah. Now one month after his heart surgery, he was returned to the ICU yesterday when his condition deteriorated in the children’s ward.
Also at Hadassah 13-year-old Ibrahim from Gaza was unexpectedly hospitalized when his cardiologist suspected an infection of the heart during a routine follow-up echo:
Please pray also for Salama, a newborn boy who had an emergency transfer from Gaza into Sheba Medical Center this week and is our newest child there.
Several of our children had surgery this week, and I bring them before you all for prayer. First, we rejoice for the successful surgery at Sheba of Avan, our newest little Kurdish girl, yesterday morning.
We pray for Hur, who, after fighting off a round of sepsis, was finally stable enough to go for surgery Wednesday:
We thank God for Revand’s quick and successful catheterization this week at Sheba; he was in and out of the hospital in just three days, and he’s back with us and thriving once again.
We thank God for the successful surgery of Soso at Hadassah on Sunday. Soso is such a beautiful and smart little girl; she wandered around her recovery ward playing with the nurses and sitting at their desk with them.
Speaking of going back home, we have two discharges to rejoice over. First Adam, who was only with us for ten days, has already gone back home to Gaza!
And, just a few days shy of her four-month anniversary in Israel, Arwa had a good final echo and was discharged to return to Kurdistan.
But the process of getting there is often messy and tricky. It requires us to humble ourselves and to quiet our pride; it requires us to be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to anger; it requires us to truly love one another. It is a process that takes time and is hard to fully realize, but I believe it can happen, and more importantly, I believe it is what God wants to happen; and that he is working in our hearts every day to facilitate it.
Pray that we will work alongside him in that, and that we will soften our hearts, both toward him and toward one another; pray that our community here will become a joyful place of healing, physically and spiritually, for all that come into it.
May the God of peace and love be with you all,
Zechariah for Shevet Achim