The gospel from Israel

Dear coworkers,

I’ve kept you up to date in recent weeks as the Lord appears to be unlocking the vast potental of Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem to become a blessing to all the families of the Middle East.

Now the story has broken into the Arabic and Hebrew media in Israel. Our Gaza coordinator Yousef was interviewed on the Arabic radio, causing great excitement among the many families in Gaza who know and appreciate him. And yesterday one of the leading online Hebrew news platforms also featured the desperate plight of little Mohammed, who was given up for dead by doctors in Syria and Jordan:

hebrew article

In a surprising way, the good news [besora, literally “gospel”] came of all places from Israel, at the height of the grueling journey to save the todder’s life a few months ago–through the intercession of the non-profit association “Shevet Achim,” which brings children to Israel for the purpose of life-saving heart surgeries. The intercessors presented the baby’s medical reports to a number of hospitals in the land, and at the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital a complete team decided to take up the challenge to save the life of the Syrian toddler.

In the documents that came from Jordan it was written that the child suffers from a complex heart defect, that caused irreversible damage to his lungs (pulmonary hypertension), and in light of his medical condition it was not possible to perform the surgery. But in a meeting that was held between Dr. Uri Pollak, head of the cardiac pediatric ICU at Hadassah, Dr. Julius Golender, a senior doctor in the pediatric cardiology department, and Prof. Eldad Erez, head of the surgical unit for congenital heart defects–the three agreed that there was a possibility to help: “We decided that we had to try to save him.”

In a swift medical action, in coordination with all the relevant authorities, last week the toddler arrived to the hospital in Jerusalem. “The first stage was to understand what we were really dealing with,” tells Dr. Pollak. “We had to perform a new evaluation in order to know the child’s exact medical condition and how we could treat him. For this purpose we made comprehensive exams and a diagnostic heart catheterization…”

To their great good luck, after the catheterization it came to light, to the joy of the Israeli doctors, that the diagnosis of the hospital in Jordan was not precise. Last week the toddler was operated on with great success by Prof. Erez, and the next day he ws able to breathe on his own. After a few days he began to smile, play and eat…

“When I heard that I would need to come alone with my son to Israel I was very afraid,” tells his mother L. “We always hear bad things about Israel. But in order to save him I thought it was worth it for me to take the risk–and today I am able to tell that there is no risk. They treated us and cared for us, thank God. I see my son now and I am happy–the doctors saved him, and I say from my heart thanks to them all.”

So far 15,000 Hebrew speakers have read this story; with some commenting that it brought joy, and tears to their eyes. Meanwhile local leaders at a messianic congregation in Vancouver, Washington are already at work sharing the story of Samir, the next Syrian child waiting to come to Israel:

tikvah for samir

We took some of our homemade things to “Lev Hallel” (“Heart of Praise”), a gathering of messianic dancers and a musician (Ted Pearce) in a park in eastern Oregon this last weekend, our first event to “Save Samir.” We raised $306!! God is good! We haven’t even announced our sponsorship yet but we had a flyer on the table about what we are doing. A great beginning I thought!

Friends, let’s keep holding up the arms of the medical team at Hadassah, who are also devotedly nurturing back to life newborn Hassan from Gaza, whose emergency surgery I shared with you last week:

hassan update georgia

And do not forget our primary partners at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv. They’re carrying most of the burden for providing emergency heart surgeries for our neighbors, and standing by these children no longer how long it takes. Sophia’s back working with us from Germany, and she’s calling for prayer tonight for newborn Rafif from Gaza, who’s been in the Sheba ICU for more than a month, and also our precious Reem who’s been in the same ICU for nearly two months:

reem still in icu

For Reem life hasn’t been very easy these days. After already moving to the secondary ICU, she is now back in the main ICU due to a heart issue that has come back. No one really knows why it actually became worse again, and seeing Reem’s Mom today was heartbreaking. Being close to tears, she was fighting them back, being really strong when we visited her. Also tonight our volunteer Alena visited them again, to encourage Mom and to spend some time together as friends. By then, Reem was intubated again, which was of course a sad occasion, but it was a joyful time with some coffee and good talks.

Just a note friends, that anywhere else in the world the medical bills for this kind of lengthy ICU care would be astronomical–but the hospitals in Israel will still only ask for the same nominal contribution from us, about $8500 per child. God bless them.

Finally, as we seek in turn to stand by the people of Israel in an increasingly hostile world, political isolation from their main ally the United States increased dramatically this week, as “A toxic rift opens between Democrats and Israel…

Yet as Israelis themselves head back to the polls in about a month, it was a non-religious female Israeli politician who had the right word on their precarious situation: “Regev: God, not people, will decide who is next prime minister.”

Jonathan for Shevet Achim

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