Healing Hearts in Israel

In comparing what Jesus said to his Jewish contemporaries, much of what he taught was in line with what others taught, often expanding on their words. But one teaching of his was utterly beyond anything that anyone had ever said, and has no parallel. What was it? “Love your enemy.” It’s beyond me, that’s for sure.

What does it look like when it’s radically lived out? There is a small ministry in Jerusalem that does this very thing. Years ago, an American man, Jonathan Miles, discovered that a great many infants in Gaza had heart defects that would certainly lead to death, but had no hope of medical help where they lived. Only a few miles away were state-of-the-art hospitals in Israel, but because of the conflict between Jews and Palestinians, no way for the Jewish doctors to reach out to the Palestinians. So he and a few other Christians decided to regularly cross over into Gaza and bring children for heart surgeries, donated at cost by the Israeli hospitals. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, they’ve also been helping children in Iraq, another long-time enemy of Israel.

You can’t imagine the profound impact this has on the people involved. Families are sometimes fearful of going to Israel, having heard all sorts of lies about the evil Jews who live there. Sometimes they face accusations of their neighbors that they are collaborating with the enemy. But when they meet compassionate doctors and loving nurses, it completely changes their world. When they go home and tell their families their stories, it makes an enormous impression on them, challenging their ancient hatreds.

The changes that come over the children are remarkable too – many of them have distinctly blue skin from lack of oxygen and are too weak to walk. Right after the surgery they turn a warm, healthy pink, with a healthy life ahead.

All the connecting is done by a team of passionate, prayerful Christians who make it clear that they believe it’s “Dr. Jesus” doing the saving. They often share about their faith. But yet the medical care comes from Jews, who are loathed by the people who they are helping. The name of the ministry is “Shevet Achim” which means “brothers dwelling” – it comes from Psalm 133, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.”

Just a couple days ago they screened another large group of children from Iraq and will be bringing twelve of them to Israel, even though they don’t yet have donations to support them. The hospital needs $5000 to cover its costs, a tiny fraction of what such a surgery would cost in an American hospital.

If you can’t guess, I’m a big fan and supporter of this small but wonderful ministry, and heartily encourage you to learn more. Their website is here. And here’s a link to a video from one of their last trips to Iraq. Their first baby from Iraq made international headlines – you can see the NBC story here. Be sure to sign up for their emails.

Published in: on March 5, 2008 at 11:04 am  Comments Off on Healing Hearts in Israel  
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