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American journalist Jonathan Miles opened a copy of The Jerusalem Report magazine in 1996, and read of three Ethiopian children brought to Israel for open-heart surgery. He called the surgeon, Ami Cohen, asking, ‘What about children from Gaza?’

‘Those are just the children we want to reach,’ Cohen replied. ‘But we can’t get anyone there to talk to us.’

So a partnership was born which has now endured and flourished for over two decades. Cohen inspired a generation of Israeli doctors to win discounts of more than 50 percent from the management of their government hospitals, and then give up their personal time to raise funds and care for children who have no hope for treatment in their own countries. Christian volunteers from many nations are able to find children in Gaza, Iraq and Syria, get them to Israel, and maintain a beachfront home in Jaffa for them before and after surgery.

‘There’s something tremendously healing for a refugee family to turn to their “enemy” as their last hope,’ Miles says, ‘and find their child treated as if they’re just as precious as any other child on earth. They’ve never been treated that way anywhere else.’

‘It calls to mind the promise to Abraham that started this whole story. In you all the families of the earth will be blessed. We are committed to sharing this truth with our non-Jewish neighbours in the Middle East.’

Miles was on hand when the first Iraqi child came to Israel in 2003. There’d never been any relations between the two countries, and I didn’t have faith that there could be. But we were visiting an American army doctor in Kirkuk, Iraq, when a family came through the door and laid a two-day-old baby girl on the desk in front of him. He examined her and told us she needed emergency surgery within two weeks. Choking back tears, he said, I see children like this all the time, and I can’t do anything for them.’

All I could think was that if she could reach the doctors in Israel, they would take care of her. It seemed impossible, but God gave a spark of faith to take the first step and talk to the family. The elders all gathered and surprised me by saying, ‘Israel? No problem.’ It turned out they were Kurds, who have had a unique relationship with their Jewish neighbours dating back to the Assyrian Exile.

Through the registered charity, Shevet Achim (from Psalm 133, how good and pleasant when brothers dwell together in unity), Christians in the nations continue to hold up the arms of the Israeli doctors at the Wolfson and Sheba medical centres.

● Pray for the Israeli medical staff who sacrifice their lives to help their neighbour (Prov 22:9)

● For the Kurdish people who look to Israel as a beacon of hope (Is 60:1-3)

● For the Muslim world to see the calling of Israel as a blessing rather than a curse (Gen 12:2-3)

Day 7: Saturday Sept 15