Jerusalem MERIT – 1 year anniversary. Message from, Esther, UK Director
It is an honour to update you today and to thank God for this past year. This is a landmark day for me personally as exactly a year ago I handed over my department at a private school and left a successful career in education and academia to come and support the work in Jordan and Israel and be part of creating a new charity to support the persecuted Iraqi Christians, many of whom were part of the congregation and larger community of our Ambassador Canon Andrew White.
It is also exactly 8 years today since my most memorable school inset day in which I had to stay focussed knowing that my mother was in a day-long operation (8.30 am – 5.30 pm) with no medical guarantee of success. Only 9% of people with her diagnosis live over five years after surgery and a high percentage do not survive surgery. On this, this day in 2010, I entered the school grounds carrying files full of exam results, knowing that my mother was being anesthetised back in Liverpool. As I passed the school chapel, the Chaplain, Reverend David Gilchrist, stopped me, stared into my eyes and said “Esther, the enemy has been defeated” and he walked on silently into the chapel. These 6 words resonated through my being, energising me throughout a long day of meetings and lectures and here I am 8 years later celebrating God’s goodness: my mother is vibrant and well, enjoying her grandchildren and continuing to bless those around her. For anyone reading this who has a mother fighting for her life and you know that it is not yet her time, I release the healing virtue and mercy of Jesus over them today.
Why do I mention this? Because exactly 8 years later and exactly 1 year into my ‘whole new world’ these are the words that can continue to resonate whenever I pray for our persecuted people and for the healing and restoration of our Ambassador, Canon Andrew White and his wife, Caroline. Even in tumultuous times, we set our eyes on things above and we stand in the finished work of the cross. In his own words, Canon White has had several ‘Daniel’ experiences this year, he has stood in the fiery furnace and he has stood in the lions’ den. Yet just like, the great anointed leader, Daniel, he and his wife have chosen to cherish their visions, pray for Godly wisdom and set their faces towards the King.
As a UK team, we have walked with them through what can only be described as the most vicious of attacks on their health, their ministry, their finances and their people and even their friendships yet we have been amazed by the magnitude of their faith and their adamant refusal to consider anything other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth as being their single solution. Month after month I have seen the faithfulness of God and sensed His tangible presence in our midst.
As I reflect on the year, as well as thanking my Father in Heaven for His constant faithfulness, there are many whom I want to thank personally:
My parents, my church family in Liverpool, Phil and Carrie Whitehead and all of my Chiswick family, those who have spoken prophetically into my life, giving me divine direction time during a time of radical change and transition: Trevor Baker, Jeff Jansen, Jane Hamon, Sharon Stone, Heidi Baker, Dave Campbell, Michel Chevalier, William Mitchel, Jerame Nelson, Ryan Wyatt, Isabel Allum, Bobby Connor, Ian Andrews, James Maloney and countless others.
As a UK team we thank those who are a key part of our work in the Middle East, our patron Rabbi Melchior, Hanna Ishaq who has worked closely with our Ambassador for over two decades, Father Khalil, Sana Bekki, Rabbi Eckstein and all of those in Jordan and Jerusalem who have worked assiduously over the years in supporting our refugees in the school, the clinic and the pharmacy. We are also grateful to Norman and Lola Cohen and Zvi and Sheila Raviv for extending their friendship to us in Jerusalem and all of our friends at Christ Church, Jerusalem and in Bethlehem.
It is with deep gratitude and affection that we thank all of our Iraqi families and children, both in Jordan and in other nations, for loving us, for maintaining your own faith in Jesus and for being so courageous during times of such great suffering and trial.
Back home, our gratitude to Leon Schoeman at TBN (UK) for treating us with such outstanding honour, generosity and professionalism and for drawing alongside us to rebuild our website and support our people is beyond expression. THANK YOU TBN! You are one of the greatest models and expressions of kingdom values that I have ever seen. We also thank our accountant, Martyn Keates, for being such an exceptional model of wisdom, integrity, professionalism and compassion and for being such a driving force within the building of our new infrastructure.
Finally, we thank every friend, every family, every church and every organisation of every faith that has supported us financially whether through one-off or monthly donations or through the new ‘Ten-plus-Ten’ project. This has allowed us to meet our monthly targets with clinic, school and rent payments. We also thank those who have blessed, honoured and hosted our team and our Ambassador in small ways and in exceptional ways as we travel the world raising awareness of the persecuted church, particularly Hilary Johnson from the Midlands, Kyle Horner at the Connect Church USA, all of the Bethel, Redding team, Wheaton College, Matt Gregor of Vazon Elim church, Guernsey, Gateway Church in New Zealand and so many churches here in the UK.
We thank you all and we declare back over you the words God has spoken to us:
New Wineskin — New Wine — I have saved the Best until Last.