I flew into the US Friday to join up with my wife Michelle and visit parents, children and grandchildren. On the last flight leg I sat across the aisle from a young black man, about 50% larger than me, twirling his dreadlocks. As we were waiting to deplane I put aside my reticence and tried to honor Jesus’ command to go and make disciples by striking up a conversation.
He confessed it was the first time he’d ever flown. Probably it was the farthest he’d ever been from his home in New Jersey. In a flash I realized he was just like me, my children, and every other human who has ever lived: a little frightened and insecure, trying to put up a good front, desperately needing our loving father to guide us.
We walked through the busy airport together, and I showed him where to board the train and collect our bags. We parted only at curbside where he knew his cousin would pick him up, with a corona-incorrect handshake. Now that he had his flight wings, I invited him to come visit our community in Israel.
Friends, the racial tensions in the US remind me of the Arab-Jewish conflict in the Middle East. (Click here for an excellent historical analysis of US events from a Messianic believer in Israel). 26 years ago I was very reluctant to go into the Gaza Strip, only goaded into it by the example of some caring and courageous women. And when I finally went I found people just like me, trying to serve God and care for their children.
They didn’t need to be pitied as victims; they didn’t need us to blame the Jewish people for their situation; they didn’t need money (and on at least one memorable occasion they were the ones helping us financially). They only needed real friends who would walk alongside them and share whatever God had given us that could be helpful.
One of those things was an open door to the hospitals in Israel for their children who were being left to die from congenital heart defects. I want to share tonight how grateful I am that door is still open all these years later. Here’s the picture shared by Lindsay just today of baby Mohaned from Gaza, who is staying with us in Jaffa after his life-saving surgery at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel:
That’s right bro, this is the work of our Father in heaven! Pointing heavenward is my stock reply to families who thank us. It’s our joy to see him given glory. And we want to share more of the good word about his good heart with all those who have ears to hear.
Tomorrow morning, by God’s grace, we’ll also be able to rush newborn Aya from Gaza to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem for her heart surgery:
Which brings us to a very special item of news tonight. Year after year the door for these children has remained open because we have trusted our Father at year’s end to provide the small share of the expenses that we have promised to the hospitals in Israel. So many emergency newborns came from Gaza in 2019 that I shared a few weeks ago we still needed $150,000 to meet all our commitments. Friends of our community around the world rose up again and gave what they could, not discouraged that our means seem so small compared to so large a need.
And this week the Father spoke to the heart of one friend to cover all the remaining balance, so that the rest of us could focus now on 2020. 2019 is history!
This is why I encourage friends not to be afraid to step in as a local leader. We want to pass on what we learned with the very first child in 1994: if we give what we can the Father’s multiplicative powers are released. It’s not up to us, it is up to him.
Jonathan for Shevet Achim
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133).