Costly inconvenient love

Dear friends,

As we write the ten Kurdish families, long stranded in Israel by coronavirus travel restrictions, are in the Cairo airport and awaiting one last flight to finally bring them home to their loved ones late tonight. We have just heard from them after eight hours of silence since they landed in Cairo, and all is well, even their multitude of checked bags have all arrived safely. We ask you to join us in praying that our loving Father will be with them all the way home.

The video above shows it was quite a caravan of four large vehicles that took them to the airport last night, finally bringing to an end more than six months of life together, at times both joyful and frustrating.

They have witnessed how we live, and we pray that we have given them a robust explanation for the hope we have in Jesus, and that they would see that all our actions were set in the context of Jesus’ death and resurrection. As John writes, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins… We love because he first loved us.”

Love is not merely a warm feeling. I think of the swamps of bureaucracy one must wade through in order to bring an urgent child from Gaza, the 15-hour days our staff has spent at the hospitals for surgeries and E.R. visits, the countless routes Julio, Luzma, and Jonathan have explored to find a way out of the country for the Kurdish families, or the midnight calls our nurses receive asking if they could come to check the vitals of one of the kids. Warm feelings aside, love looks like the costly, often inconvenient commitment to the flourishing of another person. The pinnacle of costly, inconvenient love is the Word taking on flesh to become the atoning sacrifice on our behalf–only to rise victorious over death three days later–and imbue the humans so in need of a savior with His spirit which transforms us. The prayer of our hearts is that our Kurdish and Gaza families take with them the words and actions of Jesus-followers who have been truly changed by his love.

On Wednesday afternoon there was a surprise call for Mimi to come in for surgery the next day. When it was time to take Mimi into the OR, Colin was with Mimi’s mum Sara who said that she had complete peace:

Colin and Sara went outside to walk for the majority of the four-hour wait, they had coffee and really good conversation. Sara, from the Christian community in northern Iraq, said she has learned what it is to trust Jesus more, the source of her strength.

Thank God for these beautiful relationships and the mutually life-giving element they bring to our lives, and praise God for Mimi’s surgery which went very well. She had a conduit placed that connects her right ventricle and her pulmonary artery. She was able to be extubated an hour after coming out of the operating room.

For Mimi I think the doxology is a fitting response: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below, praise him above ye heavenly hosts, praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.”

On Monday Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem received a five-day-old urgent baby, Muhamad, born with a hypoplastic right ventricle:

His young mother was able to meet another mother from the same town in Gaza who is with us in the Jerusalem guesthouse, and who also had a child go through major heart surgery. She offered Muhamad’s mother some much-needed encouragement and support.

Please pray for Muhamad’s mother (whose only other child miscarried in her ninth month of pregnancy) as she is settling in, and as her tiny 5.5 lb/2.5 kg baby has an interventional catheterization, now scheduled for Monday.

Muhamad joins Qusai at Hadassah who was recently extubated for the second time. He’s been struggling to breathe on his own, so please pray his body will be able to cope without the mechanical ventilation as the alternative if he does not do well is a tracheostomy.  He is also struggling with withdrawals from the sedation after being on it for so long, so please keep Qusai in your prayers, that God would bring peace to his body:

Baby Zakaria thank God, has become more stable after being taken off of the ECMO last Thursday at the Sheba Medical Center. He had his chest closed this week, which is a milestone and an answer to prayer. He seems to be improving slowly, though his situation remains serious. Please pray for him and his beautiful mother. Last Thursday was extremely hard, not only because the surgery to take him off ECMO was hazardous for him, but also following the surgery she was shocked by the image of his hands and feet being a deep blue, almost black due to lack of oxygen flowing to his extremities. That disturbed her deeply, so please pray for her heart and mind.

This week Toleen from Gaza had two EEGs of her brain which showed she previously had a stroke, but does not appear to be worsening. She will have a brain MRI to evaluate further. Our staff were able to meet Toleen face to face for the first time this week, as she was moved to the secondary ICU with no corona restrictions. She’s a beautiful baby with very captivating eyes, and a sweet temperament.

Her dad has also been practicing how to take care of her (i.e.how to feed her), which is outside of the traditional gender roles for him, but shows initiative and commitment to Toleen, and that is very beautiful.

Saif from Gaza was also finally moved to the secondary ICU! He is off of oxygen and has been working on receiving formula through a bottle, but has not been able to tolerate the feeding; please pray that he will be able to get the nutrients he needs to gain weight and strength, and that the doctors could see what he needs to move forward in feeding orally.

For his future, as well, even though it will be some more time at Sheba, his mum is already thinking about what it will look like to go to Gaza with a trach. Please pray that there is a hospital where he could stay and eventually have the trach removed and breathe without the device.

Thank you so much for praying with and for us. God bless you.

Alena for Shevet Achim