When Dr. Sally Parsons appeals to missions donors at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida this week, her heroic medical work saving lives in war-torn Syria will highlight a type of Middle East peace plan she hopes will inspire people of all faiths: Jews helping Christians helping Muslims.
A renowned trauma surgeon during her 30-plus year career, Dr. Parson's life-saving medical procedures among severely war-wounded Syrians this year result from a one-of-a-kind partnership between Israel and Christians, and fulfill a prophetic word spoken to the doctor by a Latin American prayer leader.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Frontier Alliance International (FAI)— instrumental in getting Parsons and a friend into Syria—joined forces for the first time in January, providing another doctor, nurses, food, medicine and loving care to forgotten people deep inside a country ravaged by civil and religious hostilities.
For the last seven years, the IDF has been going it alone, providing relief across its borders through Israel's Operation Good Neighbor.
A retired IDF officer and FAI founder Dalton Thomas are grateful for the opportunity to be a good neighbor to Syria, but their mission would fail to provide critical care to Syrians without dedicated nurses and doctors like Parsons.
The three hope donors—and an unnamed special guest at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday, possibly a member of the Trump family—share their vision for healing wounds ignored by the Assad regime and desperately needed doctors in parts of Syria.
Partnering with FAI for the first time this fall, Parsons and her friend, trauma nurse Deb Denison, rode horses packed with supplies four hours at night from Israel into Syria, where they lived among and cared for hundreds of bleeding and battered men and pregnant Muslim women for seven weeks.
With only basic medical supplies—no anesthesia, x-rays or labs—Parsons and Denison and five of their peers treated war-wounded at a mobile army surgical hospital (MASH), sending the most seriously injured on horseback to a hospital in Israel—historically perceived by Syria as an enemy.
Both passionate followers of Jesus, Parsons and Denison experienced a level of love for Syrians that surprised them, and enjoyed a reciprocal warmth of spirit from faithful but weary Muslims who inquired: "What is a Christian?"
"They had never met a Christian before," said Denison, a former missions pastor with her husband, Barry. "Historically, just as they had been educated that Jews were the enemies, so they believed Christians were enemies.
"Here we were, serving them, loving them, caring for them," said Denison, who witnessed amazing natural and spiritual beauty behind the burkas and hijabs the women removed during medical exams in a makeshift clinic. "We tore down every single label you can imagine because we were one of them. We suffered with them."
Well-traveled herself—she went on four missions trips this year alone—Parsons experienced the Middle East for the time in 2017, visiting Iraq and Syria. In 2016, she connected with FAI's Thomas in Israel, where her interest was piqued by Syria, Iraq and Kurdistan—places the ministry provides relief, training and discipleship as well as film and publication ministries.
"My heart has become entwined with these people," Parsons said before her trip to Mar-a-Lago. "I mean my heart just aches for them to know the Lord, and to be free of all this war," said Parsons.
With prayer and instruction provided by a YouTube video, Parsons performed her first cesarean sections on pregnant women in Syria. In all, Parsons delivered eight babies by C-section—without anesthesia—including an emergency procedure when the mother's heart failed during labor.
Intercession and video also helped Parsons operate on a crushed leg before the patient was sent to an Israeli hospital.
Parsons and Denison also relied on a House of Prayer in Brazil, whose prayer warriors committed to intercede round-the-clock for seven weeks. During that time, the team of seven operated on Syrian war victims, performed circumcisions and comforted mothers who underwent C-sections without the benefits of anesthesia.
Parsons and Denison have ties to Brazil, where the doctor first heard a prophetic word that the Lord was going to send her to the nations and, while successful as a surgeon, her work would be recognized around the world.
This week, Parsons will share her Syria medical missions experience alongside an IDF and FAI representative at a hotel owned by President Trump.
Denison, who is fluent in Portuguese, is a medical missionary in her own right, married to a former missions pastor and leader of a ministry in Jerusalem.
Each Syrian baby was dedicated to the Lord and given a biblical name before the child was returned to its mother. That was the instruction from Beche (Elizabeth) Brum, the prayer leader in Brazil, whose research revealed the Syrian town's Arabic language name translated "house of demons."
Instead, Parsons and Denison were to call it Bet El (Bethel) or house of God, and Brum directed the team of Christians to surround themselves with worship music.
Brum also prophesied that an at-risk mother and baby would be spared which, thanks to Parson's success during a last-minute C-section, saved both lives.
On their return to Israel and after seven weeks in Syria, Parsons and Denison were reunited with some of the patients they treated in the war zone and, thankfully, all were recovering from the their injuries.
Denison, in particular, was struck by conversations she heard between an IDF officer and Syrians in the hospital. Some of the recovering Syrians told the chief medical officer—the man who oversees the IDF's Operation Good Neighbor—they were surprised by the kindness of Israelis because, in Syria, they're taught Israel is an unfriendly neighbor.
"The stories they told were amazing," Denison said. "They would not have survived were it not for Israel." And that's what she heard Syrians telling Israelis.
"The power of the impact by our (medical) team and the Israelis changed mindsets," she said. "You can't legislate peace or tell them something to change their minds. It's the power of relationship and going beyond labels. Now it's a relationship. Now they [Syrians] can put a face with a people they thought were their enemies. That changes all the labels they've been taught," Denison said.
Parsons was impacted as much by Israel's response to Christians taking life-threatening risks to serve Syrians as Denison was to reactions by Muslims receiving critical care from Israelis.
Near Mount Hermon, two paramedics who treated Syrians sent by Parsons to a hospital in Israel met her and Denison upon their arrival on horseback from Syria.
"One of the guys looked at me and goes, 'Why do you do that?'
"They understand perfectly well giving their life for Israel but they don't understand why we—people who aren't soldiers—would willingly expose ourselves to the risk of death by going into a war zone," Parsons said.
Obviously, Parsons goes in obedience to her Savior, who loves Muslims and Jews as much as Christians, a point that was not lost on the paramedics or the IDF's chief medical officer who oversees Operation Good Neighbor.
"I go," Parsons said, "because the Lord told me, 'I created you for this; This is why I made you.'"
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