Created to flourish

Dear friends,

Maybe for the first time I’ve realized that in all the critiques I’ve heard of our faith, “it’s too good to be true” isn’t one I’ve come across (which of course doesn’t mean it isn’t out there).

But this week I’ve been sitting with how in Jesus “all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form.” Since God as revealed in Jesus is radical self-forgetful love that is bestowed on His creation for their flourishing and redemption, one can hardly be blamed for believing it’s too good to be true. But the truth of the Gospel and the goodness of it are intertwined; that it is true is why it is good. If the resurrection of Jesus isn’t true then we, as Paul says, are above all people to be pitied. “But Messiah has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Messiah all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

Another week is coming to a close, and I want to thank our God for all that is true and good that has happened; please join with us in praising him for his matchless beauty and praying to our king for the healing and flourishing of our kids.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Mohammed from Gaza has been staying at our Jaffa base with his grandmother since the middle of September. They have been waiting for the doctors to develop a 3-D model of his heart to inform them how to approach his surgery. Finally yesterday he underwent what was really two surgeries done in the span of one procedure, so needless to say it was a huge operation. Our coworker Erika was with Mohammed’s grandmother as she endured the wait for her beloved grandson to emerge from the OR.

Erika came back last night with stories of God’s generous provision during this time, like running into an Arabic-speaking teacher who came at just the right time to translate for Mohammed’s grandmother when the surgeon came out after the operation was finished. We thank God for this and for his care of Mohammed whose surgery was successful.

We were able to see two babies return home to Gaza this week! After over two months at Hadassah hospital, Qusai was discharged on Monday:

The road for him has been long and tumultuous, but thank God for his transformation. May his family cherish every moment spent with their boy, and Lord we ask for his life to be a testament to you.

Also baby Abdullah returned to Gaza on Sunday after a check-up that showed no water remaining around his heart! His medications were decreased, and he will return to Sheba in four months to see how he is growing and if he is ready for another operation.

Please pray for him, that our Father, who is also his Father will watch over and protect him.

Yakeen, who came urgently to Sheba last Friday on the eve of the holiday, was taken to surgery Sunday morning to repair the narrowing of her aorta as well as placing pulmonary banding to help prepare for the future operation she will need. Soon after she was extubated and has since been breathing on her own without auxiliary oxygen.

Thank God for this outcome for her, and for the future she now has because of this treatment. Her mother was so gracious and kind; please pray for both of them as they are in the hospital. May her recovering continue to be unhindered by complications.

Please keep Zakaria in prayer. He is still restless despite undergoing thorough tests which have yielded no abnormal findings. The doctors believe it is because he is adjusting after a long period of sedation.

It is understandable that he is having trouble adjusting because of his quite traumatic first months of life. We lift him in prayer for the Lord to give peace and resolution, and for his mother who is very tired but still by his side.

Please also pray for Saif, as doctors still consider what is best for his future after more than three months in the hospital. His mother is quite anxious at the prospect of returning to Gaza with the tracheostomy in place, so please be praying for wisdom as his case is complex.

Ziad’s condition remains critical after more than five months in the hospital; this week he spiked a fever, and after a CT scan showed that he has an aneurysm he is now waiting for an MRI to see to what extent treatment is needed. Let’s remain faithful in prayer for him.

In Matthew 7 Jesus introduces the Lord’s prayer by noting the religious think they are heard for their many words, but Jesus says, “Don’t be like them because your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask him!” What is astounding and what I think gets at the mystery of prayer is that it isn’t simply cause and effect. Our prayers don’t cause God to understand our needs, He knows them before we ask.

Still Jesus doesn’t say, “He knows what you need so you don’t have to open your mouth.” It’s the exact opposite; the command is to pray and ask the Father for what we need, though he knows it already. So with Ziad, I’ve asked God for his survival and his full healing, it’s not news to God that this is what He created humans for. I don’t know what the outcome for Ziad will be, but I know that it is a command to pray. I always think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed even as he knew the answer would be no. How much more should we who don’t know God’s mind pray for the flourishing of Ziad’s life?

Finally, on Sunday Lindsay and her daughter River will be leaving Shevet Achim. She is flying home to the States to give birth to her and Amar’s second child. Lindsay has been at Shevet for almost six years, and many of you know her and have been blessed by her kindness, selflessness, and patience. There are just too many beautiful adjectives that could describe Lindsay! Many were used at tonight’s farewell party.

Lindsay has been an integral part of this ministry for so long and she will be dearly missed. Please pray for the adjustment to life in America for her and River, for a safe (and easy!) delivery of this next baby, and also that the travel documents for her husband Amar will be approved in the next months, so they can be together again (even God willing for the birth of their second child in January). Jesus’ words from Matthew are relevant here again: “Your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask him.”

Thank you Jesus for all the years of Lindsay’s service in Shevet, for the life she has brought to the community, for bringing her and Amar together and giving them two wonderful children, and we ask that they would flourish in the States together as a family.

In Messiah,
Alena for Shevet Achim