A golden hour

Dear coworkers,

It wasn’t easy getting to Kurdistan, northern Iraq on Friday. When the flight (carrying Berith, Joanne and myself, as well as Revand and his mother) came in for a 03:00 am landing in Erbil, an automated system seemed to detect that the plane was crashing and jerked the plane into an emergency ascent. After the pilot circled and tried a new approach it happened again.

Clearly rattled, the pilot diverted to an airport in Turkey an hour away. But when he tried landing there the same thing happened again. And again. And again. We were in an Airbus, but a similar malfunction caused two Boeing aircraft to crash nearly five years ago.

The pilot didn’t know what to do, and kept circling the airport as he awaited further instructions. We were now two and a half hours beyond the planned flight time, and the passengers realized fuel must be running out. There was crying, calling out to God, people passing out from fear. A plainclothes Turkish security officer ordered us not to take any video.

airplaneJoanne went up front to be with the panicked mother. Berith was beaming and saying she had perfect peace. And I prayed, thought about what I really believed, and what things really mattered. When the plane finally landed some passengers bowed down in the aisle in praise; others were taken off by ambulance crews in shock.

Something shifted for me as a result of all this. A greater sense of seriousness and purpose. It doesn’t mean trying harder to do the work of God, but trying less. Praying more, and letting God do his work because there isn’t time for our futile efforts anymore. Believing that he really will lead us, if we let him.

Here’s the way Berith shared it in a text yesterday: Put aside your daily worries, listen and see what is happening in the moment, and be aware how the Holy Spirit leads.

In the last two days Berith, who is a widow, has allowed her life to be an instrument of healing as she held two weeping mothers: I saw a vase with lots of cracks in it, and light was shining out from them…I love Abba for letting me be a vessel in His hands.

And while I never would have planned it, this evening we ended up visiting a child in a Yazidi refugee camp whose life was saved by heart surgery in Israel–together with a dear Muslim family whose child had the same surgery but didn’t survive. Somehow the presence of God was there as we all sat together. The grieving mother held the baby who lived. It was a golden hour.

Yazidi campAnd as the sun set over that refugee camp, back in Israel our Jerusalem and Ashdod communities were joining with their Jewish neighbors in observing the start of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), according to the rabbinic calendar.

It’s a tradition at this time of the year for the Jewish press to run demographic stories on the state of the nation. But check out this take from writer Joel Rosenberg:

Rosenberg article
As upwards of 17 million Jews worldwide mark Yom Kippur – the biblical holiday known as the “Day of Atonement” – they are fasting, praying, attending synagogue, and pleading with the God of Israel to forgive all of the sins they have committed this past year…

What’s remarkable to me is that, according to the latest research, there are now approximately one million people Jewish people around the world who are followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

Specifically, there are about 871,000 people of Jewish descent that are followers of Jesus in the United States alone.

Some 30,000 “Messianic Jews” live in Israel.

Another 100,000 Jewish believers in Yeshua Hamashiach live in Europe, South America, and elsewhere.

These are Jewish people who believe that Yeshua – Jesus, who lived in the first century – fulfilled the ancient Messianic prophecies found in the Hebrew scriptures.

Thus, they believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that His death on the cross provides the only possible atonement for their sins..

…a great spiritual awakening is underway in the Jewish community worldwide, particularly in the United States.

It’s not being reported in the Jewish press.

Nor is much of the Christian media aware of it, or reporting on it.

Indeed, in many ways, this is the biggest untold story in the Jewish world.

Friends, let’s be prepared to be surprised by the work of our Father. Things we never could have imagined–for better and for worse–are taking place before our very eyes. We are privileged to see things no other generation has seen. Let’s wake up and realize the gift we’ve been given.

Jonathan for Shevet Achim

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