Yesterday we had to evacuate two medical facilities in Syria because ISIS attacked these areas. The team from our Hospital which we call Meljar, and also the team from another medical facility in the desert run by Dr A were evacuated as an emergency response to the situation.
Each of these evacuations was surrounded by its own set of events that amazed us in how they came together. The first you can read about in my earlier post from yesterday. The second attack came as a shock in its intensity.
We had reports the day before of some of the heaviest attacks in many months but the situation seemed to have been made more stable. Then yesterday the heavy attacks came again and we heard news that ISIS could take the area within hours. Dr A started preparing this team to evacuate. Some of them wanted to leave, others want to stay and care for the wounded. Dr A agreed. How do you force someone to leave the wounded behind in such an an environment?
I am away with my family at the moment and after hearing this news I felt such a burden to pray for them. I've been praying for the teams constantly for more than 24 hours but I felt as though something overtook my heart and mind and I just couldn't think about anything other than getting on my knees to pray. I couldn't go to lunch with my family, I felt such a desperate need to withdraw and just pray. I left them going to lunch and went back to our room. I felt so unsettled and was praying so intensely. I asked God to give me me a passage for Dr A to direct him, the opened the Bible completely at random.
The passage before my eyes was 2 Kings 25:8-21. It was talking about the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. Of how the temple was burned down and how everything was destroyed by the Babylonians and the people of God were taken and put to death.
I felt this was a message from God that the team should leave straight away. I messaged Dr A immediately with this passage telling him my interpretation of it. That the Babylonians represented ISIS: all things evil in God's eyes. That Jerusalem represented the city that ISIS were trying to take, that the temple represented our hospital. I told him I felt the team had to leave as quickly as possible.
He acted immediately and spoke to them straight away. Within minutes the whole team were on the road with the patients, including the staff who originally planned to stay.
If the situation improves they can return. If not, then then there would be no second chances to leave if ISIS took the area.
We were praying for them so intensely, knowing how dangerous the road was. Neither of us could do anything other than pray. We exchanged a few messages about what we were praying. We were praying the same things: worshipping and giving glory to the name of Jesus. Praising God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The first part of the road was very dangerous with ISIS snipers killing people who tried to pass. There were many kilometres under these snipers. It was dark and the team were driving in three vehicles: a van and two cars, with their lights switched off. It was a cloudy night and was very dark as they drove through the desert where there was no extra light. We were praying that they would be kept out of the vision of the jehadists who were killing people and that God would guide them. They could see other people being killed and cars destroyed as they drove along this road.
As the drove, some of the team were crying. It was a terrifying experience for them, and painful for them to abandon this hospital that they have worked so hard to build up and develop. They have put so much love and energy into making Meljar a hospital that they could feel proud of.
Less than half an hour after our team passed along this most dangerous part of the road, it was blocked off completely by ISIS. No one else could pass. If they had delayed leaving, they would not have been able to pass at all.
About two hours after I felt this heavy weight to pray, I felt like a weight had been lifted from me. I suddenly felt as though this intense need to pray had passed. I can't really explain it but it I could not focus on anything other than praying and listening to God for about two hours. In that time I prayed, read passages from the Bible, sent prayers and passages from the bible to Dr A and sought God's protection and guidance for the team and for Dr A.
My mood changed very suddenly and felt as though though a cloud or burden had suddenly been lifted from my shoulders. I felt as though I could think about other things again.
I sent Dr A a message asking if it was appropriate to talk. He said yes. Then he messaged again to say that the team had passed through the dangerous area and were finally somewhere safe. When we spoke he said that he too suddenly felt that he could do concentrate on other things.
When they arrived at another of our hospitals they told Dr A that they had told him they had no idea how they managed to get there. The road was too dark and people were being killed on the way.
To us, these two evacuations that happened yesterday were miracles guided by God. We are still completely amazed at the way things turned out. It is so tough that the teams have had to leave Meljar hospital behind and also the other medical facility, both of which were providing essential and life-saving free services to the poor. But the most precious things have been saved: the team and the patients who were there when they left.
Today, the people around the medical facility in the desert have begged Dr A to send the medical team back. They are in a desperate situation with no medical provision at all for the wounded. He told them that he could not ask them to return. But one doctor and one nurse have said they are ready to go back. Please pray for their protection and safety as they return.
Please also pray that Meljar Hospital itself will be protected. We are still hopeful that the team will be able to return. Please pray that the equipment and building will be protected and that our team will be able to return safely very soon.