Faithful to the heavenly vision

Dear coworkers,

It was Monday morning that doctors in Israel discovered that Shakar, a not yet one year old boy from Kurdistan with Down syndrome, appeared to be dying from multiple organ failure. He hadn’t even had the heart surgery yet that he came for.

It was amazing to see how the body of Messiah rallied to the side of this boy and his mother. Women from our Jaffa community stayed by the side of Shakar’s ICU bed 24/7, catching fitful sleep on a chair. And they wrote piercing reports that called believers in the nations to join them in prayer. Out of nothing a 24-hour prayer watch materialized, and almost every half-hour slot was filled.

His doctors were surprised at how long Shakar clung to life. But Friday afternoon his heart drastically slowed, and finally stopped. And for me the most glorious moment was to see the faith-filled, joyful responses that came in from those who were praying:  

shakar comments
shakar comments 2

I know well that Shakar’s family has been changed by seeing Jewish doctors and Christian supporters pouring themselves out to fight for the life of this little boy. It’s something you just don’t find in the Middle East, where life is cheap. They’ll never forget it. God has been glorified.

It’s the same vision, arising from the scriptures, which gave birth to our community 25 years ago: how do you walk past a dying child, when the resources are on hand to try to save him or her? What would I do if that were my child?

But I want to confess that I’m struggling greatly this week to hold true to this vision. A perfect storm of political and logistical circumstances has dropped Gaza baby after Gaza baby on our doorstep, each one a life and death emergency, and there’s no one else to intercede for them. We’ve admitted three this week–Abdulsalam to the Sheba Medical Center on Monday:


Mohammed to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem on Wednesday (click the video below to watch):

mohammed in hadassah

And tonight another emergency newborn named Hussein, also to Hadassah. And, as I’m writing, two more emergency Gaza newborns are on the desktop, waiting for our reply in the morning. And it appears that the desperate people of Gaza will keep on turning to the body of Messiah for rescue in the days ahead. The challenge is that each one of these precious lives will add on average $6,500 to our year-end financial commitments; and our year-end financial commitments for 2019 are already much larger than last year’s, which seemed then impossibly large (until God provided). I’m looking at the waves and crying out “Master, save me!”

We talked these things over in our community meeting this morning, and a few of our members inexplicably found joy in our situation. They’ve encouraged me to be faithful to the heavenly vision God has given us. Which, in fact, is the very thought that gave rise to the most beloved of devotionals, “My Utmost for His Highest“:

If we lose “the heavenly vision” God has given us, we alone are responsible— not God. We lose the vision because of our own lack of spiritual growth. If we do not apply our beliefs about God to the issues of everyday life, the vision God has given us will never be fulfilled. The only way to be obedient to “the heavenly vision” is to give our utmost for His highest— our best for His glory. This can be accomplished only when we make a determination to continually remember God’s vision. But the acid test is obedience to the vision in the details of our everyday life— sixty seconds out of every minute, and sixty minutes out of every hour, not just during times of personal prayer or public meetings.

So friends, I’m praying tonight, if we discern that this is indeed the heavenly vision God has given us–that we fear not, and give our utmost for His highest.

Jonathan for Shevet Achim

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