Small in the world’s eyes

Dear friends,

More evidence this week that the Lord may be calling Hadassah into the circle of hospitals that are blessing Israel’s neighbors. Newborn Hassan was between life and death in Gaza this week, but Sunday, Monday and Tuesday rolled by without any space opening up in the ICUs of our partners at the Wolfson and Sheba Medical Centers (because they are helping so many children from other countries). Finally we turned to Hadassah, with its abundant new facilities. Management again agreed, Hassan was there Wednesday, had his emergency heart surgery Thursday, and today Alena and Almuth found him already breathing on his own:

hassan extubated

Meanwhile little Mohammed, the refugee from Syria, amazed everyone by already leaving Hadassah on Friday after his surgery and joining us in the Jaffa community:

mohammed leaving hadassah

And Yousef, Julio, Luzma and even little Paula were hard to work this weekend preparing the new Shevet house in Jerusalem for its grand opening, only momentarily setback by a burst water pipe that flooded the living room:

grand opening ahead

Let’s persevere ourselves in support of these faithful servants! Help is on the way friends, from the children of the Koinonia Day Camp in West Newbury, Massachussetts, who ran a yard sale Friday in support of surgery for 13-year-old Dleza, a Yazidi refugee. 

dleza sponsors

Our Alena’s sister Alicia is overseeing the camp, and sent along these words of encouragement:

At the end of the day on Friday, after the yard sale, after the initial tally of everything, and as the crazy camp day was winding down, one of the quieter, more shy boys of our elementary crew came to me. He is one of the boys that more often than not flies under the radar, but he’s been with us all six weeks of camp, and he’s definitely a gem. He came up to me amidst the chaos on Friday, reached into his lunch box, and pulled out two quarters and three pennies. He quietly said, “This is for Dleza,” and held them out so I would take them in my hand. Tears came to my eyes as I told him how lovely of a gesture that was, and it was going into the donation jar right away. 

I was instantly reminded of one story from the Bible, and have since been reminded of another: the first one was the story that Jesus told about the woman giving all that she had, and though it seemed little in quantity, it meant everything to the Lord. The second is the story of the boy who had just the simple lunch that then turned into feeding 5,000 others. The simplicity of the offering by the world’s standards, in both these stories and with the boy at camp, means immeasurably more to the Lord than any grand gesture. This childlike faith is what the Kingdom of Heaven is all about, and I was blessed enough to glimpse it on Friday…

Although the offering we give you, from thousands of miles away, might seem small in the world’s eyes, we offer it to you gladly, with love of the Lord in our hearts. We hope that you accept it, and that it blesses you, Dleza, and her family. We continue to pray for you all at Shevet Achim; how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity, no matter the geographical distance.   

And today I was blessed to be with loving, passionate Jesus-followers at the Malibu Presbyterian church in California, who have sponsored heart surgeries for several children. Over breakfast we watched the story of how the Father used a tiny baby named Bayan 15 years ago to break open a new era of relations between Israel and Iraq (click on the video below to watch):

baby bayan

And then Lindsay sent a greeting from the crowded Jaffa community today that demonstrated better than words how our Father can multiply something that started out so very small:

lindsay video

Then Pastor Greg allowed me to take the pulpit during the worship service, and I testified how many times our Father has proven to be true to his word, against all odds, in the 30 years since my young family and I first set out from this very part of southern California. I shared transparently how our Father uses us through our shortcomings and failures, and am so thankful to see that word struck home in the hearts of many hearers. We hope to see more coworkers from Malibu coming in the footsteps of George, Pam and Carrie who’ve already served.

Back in Israel, today marked an unusual overlap of the Muslim feast of Al Adha (commemorating Abraham’s willingness to offer up his son on the temple mount) with the Jewish day of mourning on Tisha be’Av, the date on which both temples were destroyed. Many from both communities wanted to mark the occasion by going up to the temple mount, which predictably raised tensions. But here’s a lovely essay from one orthodox Jewish family, telling how they sought to lower the flames of conflict, and giving some precious insight into the complexities of the situation.

And finally, two must-read articles from the Jerusalem Post this week in the run-up to a much-discussed debate in New York: “Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?” by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and “Rabbi Shmuley is wrong about the New Testament and evangelical Christians” by messianic author Michael Brown.

It’s a contentious discussion about a painful history; but there’s no question that believing Christians and Jews, often unwillingly, are coming to realize they may be the best friends each other have in an increasingly hostile world.

Jonathan for Shevet Achim

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