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:

Gaza van attack

It looked so much like one of our white Hyundai vans that are almost daily bringing Gaza children to and from Israeli hospitals via the same crossing, that I found myself quickly checking the license plate number to be sure it wasn’t ours. 

It wasn’t, but it could have been. Israel keeps that crossing open for life-and-death medical cases even during the worst of battles. Here’s the text we received from the crossing authorities this morning:

gaza text

Zahavah, the head of the health ministry liaison office at the crossing (who lost her own husband years ago to a terror attack), is writing to all the hospitals in Israel who treat Gaza patients:

Good morning and a blessed week. The Erez crossing is closed in both directions.Do not discharge patients. Only urgent cases with an ambulance. I will update you going forward if there is a change. Have a quiet day.

And I had to smile when our Gaza coordinator Yousef, a Muslim-background believer from the West Bank, was the first to reply: “Amen.”

Our most recent emergency transfer through that crossing was last week, a newborn boy named Ahmed who needed lifesaving surgery only available in Israel to switch the great arteries of his heart. Sophie and team followed up with him today at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv:  

ahmed 1

Speaking with the mother of Ahmed is like talking to an old friend. She is one of those people who becomes instantly familiar. We are quick to connect on the truth we see in the room. Life in all its fragility is a miraculous work of God. In fact in the last few weeks Ahmed’s mother has pondered whether the Arabic word for “miracle” should be part of Ahmed’s name.

Since the time of his last blog we have a lot to praise God for in Ahmed’s life. His ischemia in his left leg and foot is starting to look much better with normal coloration returning. Ahmed is now extubated and breathing well with a little support from nasal cannula. In addition his collapsed lung is gradually improving. To mum’s total delight she has been able to hear his small voice again as he cries. Today Ahmed was even being prepared to try having some milk orally for the first time since he was first born.

ahmed 2

It is rare to be able to speak as much in depth with guardians from Gaza due to the language barrier, however Ahmed’s mother is an English teacher which makes communication so easy. I asked her today how her family are and if they are all safe following the recent rockets fired. Thank God everyone at home is safe however, the children have had their school days cancelled. At home, Ahmed’s grandparents live in the apartment upstairs from them so his brothers are being well looked after although they miss their mother a lot.

Please continue to pray for this precious and important little life.

Friends, the Kurdish newborn Roman, born with transposed great arteries like Ahmed, finally received his visa to Israel after waiting all through the Passover holiday. Today we tried to emergently fly him in from Iraq, but during the layover in the Amman airport we received the ominous message that he had deteriorated and was rushed to a hospital in Jordan. For several long hours we were unable to make any contact with the mother, or even to know where they were. Our coworker Daniel and I tried calling everyone we could think of, to no avail. Finally we had to call on the Lord. The weight of responsibility, and our obvious inability, was just too great to carry on our own. 

“Cast your burden on the LORD,” David prayed when everything seemed to be going wrong, “and He will sustain you.” Just a few minutes after finally giving it up to God, and less than an hour before Roman’s flight was leaving for Tel Aviv, a text came in from the Royal Jordanian airline doctor: 

Every thing is ok now.

Eventually we learned that Roman was taken to a government hospital, stabilized, and then miraculously given permission to return to the airport and continue his flight. Right on schedule at 7:30 tonight our head nurse Diana was checking him on arrival at Ben Gurion airport:

roman arrives

Roman, he is really beautiful. I took his vital signs and called the ICU and we went straight to the hospital.

roman to hospital

When we arrived there everything was ready for him. They performed different procedures, and later the cardiologist came and made a echo, he confirmed his diagnosis from Kurdistan was correct.

roman in icu

I was very thankful that Julio was with me, because he can speak Kurdish. And he was able to answer every question and explain everything to mom. Mom was very tired  but she is really strong and sweet . Thanks Lord we could eat something together she was very hungry, and also our beautiful Roman. Please pray for him, for wisdom to the medical team and the best decision and plan for him.   

Friends, let’s never forget that this work we’re privileged to share in is only done by the power of God. And let’s remember next time to call on Him sooner rather than later.

If you’ve been with us for a while you well know that not every story has an immediately happy ending. Yesterday I sat in a coffee shop across from a Kurdish father whose beloved child died in the hospital in Israel, despite every effort by the doctors and so many prayers from us. Yet the father told me the very thing that we have dared to hope in such situations: that God was powerfully at work through it all to reveal himself through Messiah.

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” the father said. “It’s the most important thing you could do.”

Jonathan for Shevet Achim

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