Our Jaffa and Jerusalem communities are at rest tonight, as Israel entered at sunset the high holiday season of Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles. While this first two-day holiday of Rosh HaShana is considered the New Year in rabbinic tradition, in tonight’s blog “Calling the Saints into Battle” our coworker Deborah takes us back to its scriptural roots:
The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah, literally
“day of shouting and blasting.” Let us not only take time out for
personal reflection but also shout to the Lord as we stand in the gap for
Just over one year ago I first met Gabi at Shevet Achim’s Jaffa base. He was almost one year old and a sweet, curly-haired and plump child. He was born to Christian parents and last year many of the volunteers witnessed the devotion and patience of his dear mother during their very long time in Israel waiting for the fluid in his lungs to lessen. Many prayers were prayed over this precious child and, praise God, he became well enough to return home.
Within the last few weeks the Shevet community heard that Gabi wasn’t doing so well and was returning to Israel for a possible second surgery. When I saw a current photo of Gabi it was difficult to recognise him not only because almost a year had passed since I had seen him but mostly because his face was so swollen that his unique facial features, that make him Gabi, were hidden.
Gabi arrived in Israel with his father this time as his mother is very close to giving birth to their second child. This morning our long-term co-worker, Georgia, and I visited Gabi in Sheba. We arrived armed with a Bible for Gabi’s father and a desire to find out what we could about Gabi’s current condition. We found Gabi in the secondary ICU in obvious distress. He is on restricted fluids and diet and is hungry and thirsty. He greedily took a small amount of water from his father and was upset he couldn’t have more. He didn’t want to be touched and spent most of the time we were there struggling to breathe, despite oxygen being administered through nasal tubes, and moaning, crying or screaming. The only time he quietened a little was when we prayed for him aloud in the name of Yeshua.
In short, friends, Gabi is in a huge struggle for his life. It is not a cardiac issue but an unknown issue with his lungs. It seems that he is literally drowning in his own secretions. The medical team are not sure that further surgery will help in any way. He will be reviewed on Thursday after the holidays. So, Gabi needs the prayers of the saints to uphold him, to cry out to our great God, to go into spiritual battle in our war rooms, to form together as an army against the enemy who wishes to steal, kill and destroy what is precious to our creator – the lives of His children, and specifically at this time the life of Gabi.
This morning our Jaffa community began studying the amazing book of Hebrews. Chapter One begins…describing the greatness of God’s Son “…the one through whom God created the universe, the one whom God has chosen to possess all things at the end. He reflects the brightness of God’s glory and is the exact likeness of God’s own being, sustaining the universe with his powerful word. After achieving forgiveness for the sins of mankind, he sat down in heaven at the right-hand side of God the Supreme Power…”
The Son is the one who was not only there when the universe and Gabi and each of us were created but also the one who bore the sins of us all, and whose name we can call upon to go into battle for life. What power is in that name of Yeshua.
Significantly, as Georgia calls us to prayer tonight for baby Abdulsalam from Gaza–after his chest was reopened today due to falling blood pressure–she references the same scripture from this morning:
We began the day as a community studying these fantastic words in the first chapter of Hebrews. It was a joy to feel the peace of the Holy Spirit resting over these words..Thank God also for the encouraging reminder that He holds everything together, everything that exists in the universe, is held together by his word…Jesus, the Word.
So, as the doctor said that maybe it feels like a step backwards, it is the best for Abdulsalam’s case at this time. We need to remember and declare this truth for Abdulsalam; Jesus is holding every thing together.
Friends, do we see the impact that daily immersion in the Word of God has on our community? This is the source of our power and unity. Our community has two purposes: one is to give our neighbors’ children access to life-saving heart surgery in the advanced medical centers of Israel. The other is to become disciples of Jesus by daily application of the word of God to our hearts and minds and lives. And it is this second purpose that makes possible the first.
We have to fight day by day to keep the cares of this world from encroaching on that precious two hours that we set aside each morning for the Lord and his word. And, as our ministry coach Martha recently reminded us, we also have to draw boundaries around the long-term membership of our community: it is only for those willing to humbly receive the word of God and be transformed.
We’ve had some difficult conversations in recent weeks, drawing lines that need to be drawn. Yet flourishing fellowships are those that challenge their members to lay down their lives. In this light please consider carefully this testimony that came in today from a former coworker:
As today is the 7th anniversary of my baptism in the river of Jordan with the Shevet Community, it is a day of joy and thankfulness!!
Is there any way to celebrate Rosh HaShana better than to thank Yeshua, that he took all my sins, buried my old life and made everything new?!!
I want to write this letter to express my thankfulness to you and the community. You welcomed me in your community in 2012 just one year after I encountered the grace of God and startet to live with him again. I could learn to walk in faith, to start my day with worship, prayer and Bible study. I had role models and good examples around me in the Community of how to live in God’s ways and how much it is a blessing to follow him.
I am also thankful for your obedience to the Lord and His word and your commitment to put his truth higher than everything else and not taking any compromises. That’s the reason why you could show me what’s wrong in my life, especially about the relationship I had at that time. Your strictness of words to either change it and live with full devotion to the Lord or not letting me come back to Shevet, was the clearness of words I needed to come out of my bubble. I will always be thankful for that!
And as I prayed at home after I left Shevet, the Holy Spirit told me you were right and showed me what to do. So I could come back and get baptized, the first and only time in my life. All of the old life was buried and since that day a new era in my life began.
As you told me at that time, there will come battles; yes they came! But Jesus helped me to get through no matter how painful it was, and he showed me how much wrong pride is still inside of my heart, so that I can really live like it says in James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” So this is how I live today in the wonderful church I’m part of. And everything I do is also a fruit of the Community of Shevet Achim.
So feel free to share this with the Community as an encouragement and testimony of Shevet and all of its supporters!
In deep thankfulness,
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133).
Jonathan for Shevet Achim