Meeting, Eating, Sharing

Dear friends,

As we read through Acts this month it’s almost impossible to miss the theme of community. It seems like every time there’s a move of the Holy Spirit, you find believers naturally come together–meeting, eating and sharing everything they have. In fact, the whole operation of the early church depends on this. The poor are cared for, those in trouble are prayed for, theological questions are wrestled with, teachers like Paul are given places to stay.

Why is it that God chooses to work in community? Why is it that he chooses to reveal himself through us, his image bearers? This is one of the beautiful mysteries about God. Broken and imperfect as we are, he’s somehow chosen to entrust his great treasure to these fragile clay jars. There’s something key about all this that leads us right back to the very nature of God.

The Father, Son and Spirit–one God, yet speaking in plurality since Genesis 1. Grappling with this concept since seventh grade has led me no closer to understanding it. Yet what has struck me in a new way is the image we see of perfect relationship and community. God is not only the epitome of love, but the very source of it. He works through community because he exists in community; and it’s his great delight to invite us in.

This past week we’ve seen God working in amazing ways through our Shevet community. As lockdown restrictions have relaxed here in Israel, we were able to share a barbecue together in the local park on Sunday. Walking by you’d never have guessed the group included families from the Gaza Strip and Iraqi Kurdistan, and volunteers from all over the world. As the sun began to set and the second round of kebabs began, I looked around at the contented faces. I was filled with a sense of wonder at the way God had brought us together, and a deep thankfulness for these special relationships:

On Monday, Mohammed had a good echo and was cleared to fly home to Kurdistan! Like the other Kurdish families he is now waiting for a plane on the 1st of July:

Just yesterday, newborn Ahmed was discharged from hospital! Due to quarantine rules in Gaza, he’s come to stay with us again in Jaffa while he waits for a follow-up appointment. We’re all very happy to have Ahmed and his aunt here again. It’s incredible to see how healthy he’s looking now:

Please keep praying for Hassan from Gaza, who is still in ICU; this week has been very up and down for him. On Monday he had a high fever and then had to be intubated, following a bronchoscopy. Yesterday he had PET-CT scan to investigate the cause of the fever. Today he was finally able to be extubated, but he still has a high fever and is on high oxygen support:

Following a good ultrasound yesterday, doctors say Ziad from Gaza is now stable after heart surgery, and they can schedule the surgery he also needs for a gastrointestinal defect. We’re thankful for their willingness to treat the whole child. However they are still concerned about Ziad’s brain function after repeated resuscitations. Keep praying for Ziad and his mum as they wait for this surgery and to see a neurologist:

And please pray with us for our newest emergency newborn from Gaza. Week-old Fayez arrived late last night with a very complex heart defect, and today had a CT as doctors study the anatomy of his heart and look for the plan that can help him to live:

Fayez also still needs a local leader who will advocate for prayer and financial support for his surgery.

Our house is very full here in Jaffa and we also have three Kurdish families currently staying at the Jerusalem guest house. Today was their outing to the Garden Tomb and Mount of Olives:

It’s a reminder of God’s incredible goodness to see our children recovering so well from their surgeries, looking healthy and full of life.

Seeing how the early church spent so much time praying together has reminded me of our need, as a community, for intercessors. Thank you for your prayers–they are invaluable. Be encouraged that God is truly at work here, answering prayers and changing lives.

Ruth for Shevet Achim

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