The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been partnering with a Christian ministry to operate what was previously called a “secret medical mission” aimed at saving lives deep within the battle zones of the Syrian civil war.
The Christian humanitarian aid group, Frontier Alliance International (FAI) has joined hands in the Golan Heights with IDF soldiers in the war-torn Middle Eastern nation. The operation takes place in the dead of night, as members from both the military and missionary groups use flashlights, night vision goggles and hope to shine light on Syrians’ dismal predicament.
A dynamic pairing
FAI Founder Dalton Thomas is excited to join forces with Israel and extend his group’s outreach into a hostile Middle Eastern nation that has been extremely difficult to penetrate with the Gospel.
“We support the state of Israel and we love the Jewish people,” Thomas expressed, according to CBN News. “So, to be able to engage the Syrian crisis through the Israeli border in cooperation with the Israeli army is a huge privilege for us as an organization.”
IDF helped the Christian medical team set up shop in a Syrian village, where Dr. Sally Parsons and FAI Trauma Nurse Debbie Dennison served in a seven-week tour of duty before recently crossing the border back into northern Israel.
Here I am, Lord, send me …
Even though the Christian women were exhausted from their nearly two-month stint, they had no regrets.
“Parsons and Dennison served in a makeshift hospital treating Syrians wounded in their civil war fighting the Assad regime,” CBN News reported. “Both women said it was their faith that led them into the war zone.”
Parsons felt she was obeying God’s calling by serving injured Syrians while sharing His love, provisions and healing.
“Because the Lord calls us into all the world – to all the nations – and I specifically … I can’t speak for the others, but I specifically felt God told me this is what I was supposed to be doing,” Parsons shared with CBN News.
Dennison felt God’s hand in the mission, as well.
“You had to count the cost,” Dennison told CBN News. “You had to say, ‘Do I love You enough that I’m willing to lay down my life?’ Of course, and my answer was ‘yes.’”
Without God’s help – and a little Internet assistance on their smart phones – Parsons would not have been able to have the success her group experienced on the mission field, which was not too far from the battlefield.
“Parsons – a surgeon for 30 years - faced surgeries she had never done before,” CBN News’ Chris Mitchell reported. “When the team didn’t know what to do, they turned to prayer and YouTube,”
On one clip of video footage that CBN News obtained from the IDF, the women were shown discussing how they would perform a surgery while watching an operation on YouTube for pointers.
“So that’s exactly what I need – that’s lateral,” the conversation began, according to a video posted on Israel National News. “How many incisions – three? How many compartments? … You got me – I think it’s probably two, but cutting the skin … Okay, so they’re just going lateral.”
In fact, Parsons turned to YouTube for a smorgasbord of information to help her successfully navigate through multiple surgeries.
“We downloaded a YouTube for caesarian section and we did that and I prayed a lot more than I read,” Parsons recounted. “We did it for caesarian section, circumcision, Fasciotomy. I think those were the main ones I recall.”
From saving a Syrian man’s leg seriously wounded in the war to delivering babies, Parsons said the spiritual gravity of the trip was almost surreal.
“It’s what sustained us – to be able to see new life in such a horrific war,” Parson’s continued. “It was just a blessing beyond belief.”
If Parsons felt the surgeries were too severe to treat in the Syrian village, she and her brothers and sisters at FAI would have them taken across the border into Israel for major treatment.
Meeting needs, obeying God
And medical treatment is just the tip of the iceberg of the numerous goods and services FAI offers to Syrians in need.
“Their mission was just one part of a larger Israeli project called Operation Good Neighbor,” Mitchell informed. “Israel provides food, fuel, water and medical treatment for Syrians – their next-door neighbors and historic enemy. So far, Israel has treated more than 5,000 Syrians in Israeli hospitals.”
Chief medical officer of Operation Good Neighbor, IDF Major Sergey, explained why he was involved in the mission.
“For our side, this is a very simple question,” Sergey asserted to CBN News. “I can’t see the other side of the border that’s starving in his place and (not) bring him help. This is a huge situation – that they live there – and this is my point, my opportunity to bring them help and they need this. This is the point. So, if they need this and I can give [to] them, I am very proud to do this."
FAI’s ministry is meeting the physical and spiritual needs of some of the most afflicted peoples in the Middle East – and quite possibly, the world.
“[R]elief is the means of a missional end,” FAI states on its website. “We are living through what the U.N. is calling the ‘greatest humanitarian crisis’ since the Second World War and [the] slaughter known as the Holocaust. This greatest crisis provides the people of Jesus the greatest opportunity to provide an incarnate witness of the Incarnate God.”