At this uncertain time for the world, we are no doubt all wondering how this will end. In 2 Chronicles, we read of when large armies massed against King Jehoshaphat. Understandably, the king was afraid. Nonetheless, from his position of vulnerability Jehoshaphat sought the Lord Almighty. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you,” ends his devout prayer. Remembering that God had been faithful in the past, Jehoshaphat maintained his hope for the future and trusted the Father’s consistency in each moment. Now, we must all do the same.
In Israel, we were among the first to experience the sweeping societal disruptions that are now being felt similarly around the globe. The government here has employed an especially proactive and rigorous approach to tackling the spread of COVID-19. Last week, it was declared that all entrants to the country must undergo a 14-day self-quarantine, with all foreigners who cannot prove that this is possible (i.e. that they have access to a private property) to be turned away at the border. Along with the ban on gatherings in excess of ten people, these measures have forced us to postpone our Nazareth Challenge fundraising event to protect the health and safety of our participants.
This week, all shops, restaurants, theatres, schools and universities have closed. Non-essential workers have been told to work from home. In Nazareth, a recent visitor to the Baptist School was found to have the virus and as a result all students are now being isolated at home for 14 days.
All our operations in Nazareth have been severely impacted. We have had no choice but to close the Nazareth Village until the broader restrictions are lifted, which will likely only be in several months. Most of our SERVE volunteers have returned home, although some long-term volunteers are intending to stay to provide crucial pastoral care. We are extremely grateful for this act of selfless service. Lectures for students at the School of Nursing have moved online. Finally, the hospital is being required by the Ministry of Health to provide as many as 50 intensive care beds for infected patients, which would result in the closure of some wards and reduced routine medical provisions across the board.
The situation is fluid and we call on our friends and supporters to pray for us earnestly and regularly.
Please pray for our medical staff who are under enormous pressure. While they continue to care for patients on 12-hour shifts, with many of their own families at home in self-isolation, pray for their protection from the virus, strength to carry out duties above and beyond the norm and peace in their hearts and minds at a time when their mental health is more crucial than ever.
Please pray for our hospital management team, particularly our Deputy CEO, Waseem Dibbini, and Medical Director, Dr Fahed Hakim, as they make daily decisions on complex issues. They desperately need the Lord’s wisdom and strength.
Please pray for our Nazareth Village staff who face an uncertain future due to the halt on tourism for the foreseeable future.
Please pray for our SERVE staff and the volunteers who remain, that they will be emboldened to provide crucial pastoral care to staff at the hospital.
Please pray as well for our School of Nursing students and the staff who continue to support them through their studies.
Lastly, please pray for continued financial provision for the Nazareth Trust as we experience enormous financial challenges due to loss of income alongside increased demands on the hospital. Please pray for wisdom for our Board and Executive Team who seek to guide the Trust and our staff through this difficult time.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. We understand that you will also be facing challenges and uncertainty and we hold you in our prayers as an organisation. We are God’s people and as such can be confident in His plan and His faithfulness. May we look to God as Jehoshaphat did. We appreciate your prayers and support.