Sometimes we whisper something quickly to God and, before we realize it, He answers. This happened to me in 2005.
I spend a lot of time talking to God and have been amazed over the years to see how often He has heard me and has answered in wonderful and unexpected ways. One day, I told God that I wanted to be a part of a modern day miracle of Biblical proportions. He heard me.
I grew up with the understanding that we were Jews and the gentiles fit into the category of “them and us.” I knew that we were hated, but never really understood why. During the years of my own search for the meaning of life, I had a supernatural experience with the God of Israel. I began to read the Torah. I also began to meet a different type of gentile — the kind that love our people. During the summer of 2006, I was blessed to meet a woman whose love for our people goes so deep that it manifested itself in a selfless action of the kind one rarely sees in these days.
Several years ago, a young Jewish boy, Neriyah, emigrated from Bukhara to Israel with his family. After a friend challenged him to start reading the Scriptures, Neriyah did so and soon had a life-changing experience.
Due to a misfortunate incident, the same condition that took the life of his older brother, struck Neriyah; he lost the use of his kidneys. In 2004, Neriyah’s health began to rapidly deteriorate. A couple of years earlier, his name had been placed on a waiting list for a new kidney, but no one had come forward.
In spite of his poor health, Neriyah had married a sweet girl named Anna. They had first a son, Baruch, and then a daughter, Sarah. At the time of this story, both children were under two years of age.
Somewhere in the US Midwest
On the other side of the world, circumstances were unfolding that would change the lives of two very special people.
Cyndi is the mother of six and the wife of a Pastor. She read an article describing Neriyah’s precarious situation. The president of a US organization that Neriyah worked for wrote a personal letter to friends and supporters all over the world asking for prayer. In his letter, he included a statement from Neriyah which said, “Please, do not to feel sorry for me; I trust that Ha Shem will take care of me.”
Cyndi and her husband decided to donate to a fund which had been set up for Neriyah’s health expenses and she began to pray for him.
A year passed and Cyndi received an update — now Neriyah was in a desperate situation. He was on dialysis nine hours a day, every day.
Cyndi read this letter and with tears in her eyes, cried out “O Lord, this young man is out there serving you.” Suddenly, something went through her like a rushing wind and God broke into her thoughts, “Why don’t you donate your kidney to him?”
“You are asking me to do this?” Could God be asking her to do this? She was bewildered! She had never considered donating any organ before, but her heart joyfully answered, “YES!” She danced around the kitchen filled with the joy that comes from being obedient to God.
Cyndi’s family and friends, of course, had mixed feelings, but they knew she was determined and that something special had definitely happened to her. If her blood type matched Neriyah’s, she would know that this was from God.
Thus began an adventure that would touch the lives of so many, including mine.
Let Me Give You My Kidney
After investigating kidney transplant information on the Internet and finding out her own blood type, Cyndi phoned the head office of that organization, inquiring about Neriyah’s blood type. She asked to speak to the president and was told he wasn’t available. Cyndi emailed him, letting him know her desire. He responded, “We are taking you seriously and will be in touch with you.” He and my rabbi were with Neriyah in Jerusalem at that very moment spending the day fasting and praying for someone to donate a kidney to Neriyah!
My rabbi was given the responsibility of coordinating the cross match testing that would have to be done in the US before Cyndi could travel to Israel for any surgery. He returned to Montreal and asked me if I would be willing to handle the details of the transplant coordination. I immediately agreed. I had known Neriyah for many years and I also had previous experience working in hematology. During the lengthy and at times frustrating process, Cyndi and I became close friends.
Without any foreknowledge of what she might be called to do, the previous year Cyndi had started to get into excellent physical condition. She began exercising daily and taking a food supplement called Reliv — resulting in a perfect blood test. The doctors were amazed at the excellent condition she was in.
Aaron & Moses
As we drew closer to the date when she would be leaving for Israel, Cyndi said to me, “I’d love it if you could come with me.” Cyndi is shy and had never travelled abroad. She thought I could be to her what Aaron was to Moses.
My own “Yes” rang in my head! Two years before, I had started to pray that God would take me on a long awaited trip to Israel. . The more I read the Torah the more I felt a growing connection with my own Jewish heritage. I began to want to visit the land where it all started. I wanted to go for at least three weeks and I wanted to go in style but that would have required more resources than I had at that time.
I immediately ran to my rabbi who I work for and asked if I could to accompany her. He thought it was an excellent idea. We emailed the president, who said that he already had someone else in mind to take care of Cyndi there. When I relayed this to Cyndi, she was disappointed but only said, “Don’t worry. Let’s pray.” The next day, we received word that the other person was unavailable. Cyndi and I jumped up and down for joy that our prayer was answered. Together, the two of us ventured out for the first time to Israel. Only God could have orchestrated this scenario.
A Modern Miracle
Everyone who has listened to the story of this special gentile woman who donated a kidney to a Jewish man she had never met was awe-struck. They said that they were listening to a modern-day miracle. (Remember my prayer?)
The God Who created Adam and Eve, Who parted the Red Sea and Who has saved us for over 3500 years was now performing a miracle for this young man, Neriyah, and his family.
Cyndi, a gentile believer, demonstrated her faith in the God of Israel to the Orthodox Rabbi, the lawyer and psychologists at Israel’s Ministry of Health who all wanted to know more. Social workers, psychiatrists, doctors and nurses, taxi drivers, family and friends — all were stunned by the story.
At one point, the surgery was postponed because Neriyah’s shunt became infected and he was very ill. We were afraid that it would be cancelled. It did however give Cyndi and me some time to visit Jerusalem and the holy sites that we wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. God even worked this out.
Finally, the day of surgery arrived. Everyone was awaiting the result. Cyndi was taken in first. Her surgery lasted for more than three hours; the doctors announced that it was literally “by the book.” Then, it was Neriyah’s turn.
He was in surgery for five hours and, when the doctors finally emerged at the end of the day announcing that it had been a success, Neriyah’s mother and I hugged each other and wept for joy.
It is impossible to describe the look on this mother’s face as she quietly walked into Cyndi’s room after the surgery and looked upon the woman who had just saved her son’s life. She just stood there shaking her head in wonderment. This strange woman had just risked her own life for another woman’s son. Neriyah’s mother had lost her firstborn son, but God had given her back her second son. She said, “If he lives, I will believe!”
The very next day, Neriyah was sitting up, feeling no pain and looking like a new man.
Cyndi has returned home to her family and her life in Michigan. At times, it may seem as if nothing happened, but something deep in her being has changed.
Cyndi was deeply moved by Israel and our people. Her love for us has grown, as has our love for her. The doctors and nurses were all amazed, because the odds of this being a success were so slim.
This story is testament to God’s power. At a time when the world seems to be going mad, these two simple and humble people heard and responded to the call of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And I thank God for allowing me to witness this wonderful miracle of Biblical proportions…and I thank Him for meeting a person who has become my very best friend. (December 16, 2014)
Peggy & Cyndi — finally in Israel!