It’s been a while since I have put an update on line, although I’ve sent out numerous e-mails. Here we are already in 2014. Both 2012 and 2013 were years of amazing events, too many miracles to recount in a short article. Yet, I would be remiss in not at least mentioning a few of the highlights, in order to give honor and praise to the One, who made all this possible.
What started–at least from our end–as two people simply taking our first trip to Jerusalem in the last week of March, 2012, turned into an adventure that I don’t have enough words to describe. A simple prayer from our hearts that the Lord God would direct us to someone, or to a ministry, that we could have a “hands-on” participation with, turned out to be something that has taken a place of high priority in our lives ever since. There are many promises in God’s Word for those who pray with their whole heart. One of my favorites is found in Jeremiah 33:3:
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Another is found in Isaiah 52:7, which says:
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who say to Zion, ‘your God reigns!”
By God’s guidance we were led into a most thrilling series of events. Our trip to Jerusalem, even though we got to see many things we’ve always wanted to see, turned out to just be our contact location for what He had in mind. Within a short period of time after returning to the States, a story began to unfold that is still ongoing as I write this update today. New chapters are being added each week. It has been a story of generosity, obedience, sacrifice, faith, tragedy, pain, unspeakable torture, and brutal death. Yet at the end of each week, no matter how difficult or painful, God’s power has been displayed through miracles of healing, food being multiplied as we read about in the New Testament, and just recently, hundreds raised from the dead who had frozen to death or were physically overcome due to sickness from exposure.
The most amazing miracle of all though is always the transformation of a soul from death unto life. In the New Testament, in verse 23 in the little book of Jude, it speaks of our task as Christ-followers, being to snatch souls who are slipping into the fire so that they can be saved.
Here in America, most denominational organizations keep records of how many salvations each church has recorded in a year. It is sad how most churches in America today don’t even teach of the need for salvation anymore. Genuine salvations however, even in churches that are still “alive”, have become more rare than most would like to admit.
Yet, overseas, this is not the case. The more impoverished the people are, the easier they are to reach. In a nation like Syria where there has been a brutal civil war going on for near three years, the people are without hope and absolutely lost–in every way, and they are desperate. Most of them have come to the place of being ashamed of their own religion because they know the world is seeing it for what it really is. If Muslims aren’t killing infidels, they are killing each other, including indiscriminately murdering women or children who happen to get in the way.
For those that might remember reading the earlier “Jerusalem Updates”, going back to April of 2012, the first order from the underground printer was for 2,000 Bibles. 200 of these were printed into Hebrew and distributed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. There are testimonies and photos of what happened with these. The balance of 1,800 Bibles were printed into Arabic and taken into northern Jordan. Two separate works were started, about 1½ hours drive apart from each other. R****, founder of “House of Blessing” went back and forth between the two locations and came home to Jerusalem on most weekends.
Right from the very beginning, there were those who were killed for sharing the Gospel, or even daring to carry a Bible. The work however carried on week after week. Teachings went on all day long for days and weeks on end; more and more volunteer missionaries being raised up to share the love of God. Handfuls of believers became dozens. Dozens became hundreds and hundreds soon became thousands. It was astounding how many the Lord was bringing in.
Soon, a trip was taken over the border into Iraq with the last five Bibles that were left over from one of the orders. A new church was quickly born in Iraq. As the days and weeks passed, this work also multiplied into thousands of people reached.
About a year ago or so, R**** and some HOB pastors and volunteers went over the border and started ministering in Syria. What God has done in Syria is absolutely amazing. In fact, what God has brought about is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy which describes the “latter rain” outpouring of God’s Spirit. Miracles of healing; miracles of power; miracles of supernatural protection; and miracles of provision. One of the latest miracles happened when some of the volunteer missionaries began praying for some of those that had been frozen to death and left under heaps of snow to “keep” them until they could be correctly buried. Over 200 corpses came back from the dead right in front of the people. As a result, hundreds more became believers; about 800 by the end of the week. People were grabbing onto these volunteer missionaries and begging to be introduced to their God! The harvest of souls has grown continually and has been enormous. To God be the glory, He’s the Lord of the harvest!
I must at least comment briefly on the living conditions of these folks. There are many hundreds of thousands of people living in concentrated tent cities. Not long ago, a tremendous rain storm brought flood waters cascading through the tents, sometimes more than knee deep. Some of you have seen the photos. Most mattresses and blankets were ruined; in fact, most everything the refugees owned was ruined. Then to add insult to injury, a major snowstorm inundated the same area before people’s clothes even had had a chance to dry. This is when people started dying of exposure related illnesses and literally freezing to death. This was the same snowstorm that brought the city of Jerusalem to a halt.
In order to try and help as many people as possible, people began sleeping in 6-hour shifts, around the clock. Then they had to cut the sleeping time to 3-hour shifts, just to try and get as many people on some type of mattress for at least a short time every day.
There is no way one can minimize the misery the multitudes are going through. It is also impossible for us to conceive the brutality of groups like Hezbollah and other jihadist groups. R**** told me that there are at least thirty different jihadist groups, and none of them agree with each other. They all kill each other, but they do have a common enemy–the Christian. Christians are shot, dismembered, stoned, beaten to death; many are beheaded. Christian women are often gang-raped and then murdered, often being sliced open with knives and then left to die. Syria is a killing field. Yet, in the midst of these horrible conditions, they continue sharing Jesus with the lost. R**** rightly describes them as having the hearts of lions. It has been proven again and again that the worse the persecution is, the stronger the missionaries are, and the more people want to commit themselves to the only Messiah who died for them, but also rose from the dead–with full forgiveness being offered to them–just for the asking.
It has been described to me several times now how the people react when a new shipment of Bibles comes in. These folks share each Bible they have with somewhere between 60-100 people, usually large family and extended family groups. But, even so, when these Bibles arrive, the people act like they are at a wedding celebration. They pick the Bibles up, holding them to their chests, and dance and dance and dance, with huge smiles on their faces, as they express their joy. R**** says that it is like honey to them. To these brand new believers, their lives and very souls have been given to the One that died for them, and they have no intention of going back on their covenant with God…and they prove it, often paying the ultimate price for their commitment.
Many sheiks have now been reached and there are more all the time. This started with the first assignment R**** had in Jordan, when the head mullah was brought to a knowledge of Jesus Christ. He was beaten to death a few days later inside his own mosque in front of 300 people, but that “seed” that was planted into the ground through his death opened the door to a flood of Muslim people deciding to make the same decision their former mullah did.
A number of weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking, not only with R**** by cell phone, but also with two of his friends, Rami and Jimi. Some of you might remember that all three men had nearly been clubbed and stoned to death. At the point when each had been beaten to within an inch of their lives by ten Hezbollah fighters, another jihadist group came through the area and were shooting people to death right in front of them. R**** and his two friends were left for dead but then helped back into the tent R**** was using. At the time I spoke with Rami and Jimi, they, as well as R**** were all in wheelchairs. All three had lost the ability to walk, as well as most everything else. What an honor it was to speak with these men though as their joy was much more obvious than their acute pain. Neither Rami or Jimi could speak English but they had learned a short Scripture that they quoted to me over the phone. What a blessing it was. R**** then translated for us as we briefly spoke. That is a phone call I will never, ever forget. Two weeks later, both Rami and Jimi were shot to death sharing the love of Jesus, but before Rami died, he had reached his father, who was a Muslim sheik! This man has now reached dozens of other sheiks who are now evangelizing their own people. What a God we serve!!
There are so very many stories but I am going to bring this update to a close. Please, please pray for House Of Blessing and their team. Pray for R**** who is still in his wheelchair. He has never had a complaint in any of the 100 or so calls I’ve had from him, only praise and thankfulness to His Master. He is a humble man and makes no claims of having done anything great. We all know of course, that there is nothing of eternal value that any of us could do without the help and power of the Holy Spirit working through us.
Please also pray for a man named Omar, who I’ve also had the privilege of briefly speaking with by phone. He is the leader of the ongoing work in Iraq. There are many more of course, including Brother Moshe, from the Jerusalem office, who I am in contact with quite often by e-mail. These folks live for one purpose only, and that is to spread the Good News of the Messiah and His offering of forgiveness to anyone that asks for it. Just to provide some perspective, more folks have accepted Christ as Savior and Lord through this project started 22 months ago than the official number of people that have been slaughtered in the civil war in Syria! Did HOB do this? NO! Is it by the help of our small team that have been donating funds for Bibles? NO! It is GOD that has done this mighty thing! And, it is continuing full speed ahead…But, we all have the privilege of having part in what God is doing on this earth! What an honor it is!
During my devotional time this morning I read Psalms 49:5-9 and it reminded me of the question one hears posed quite often: “What is the value of a soul?” This psalm reads like this in the NIV:
“Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me–those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him–the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough–that he should live on forever and not see decay.”
Can a soul ever really be bought or paid for? We do hear of people who have sold their souls to the devil in trade for wealth, fame, and or power. This really does happen and many of our movie stars have done this. But, can anyone spend enough money to “save” a soul? Of course not. Jesus’ death and resurrection however has paid the price, and it is the only payment that works. Our involvement in any ministry though does have an effect.
We could spend all of our “wealth” that God has blessed America with and use it all on ourselves. Or, we can listen to the Spirit of God and do what He asks us to do. I hear that the Superbowl tickets start somewhere around just under $3,000 apiece. There are also seats available to the very wealthy for about $500,000 apiece! Can you imagine? These Bibles we try and help provide the funds for cost $15 apiece. They are not just a New Testament; they are the whole Bible, and they are translated into Arabic. at the very beginning of this project, God made me a very unusual promise. It was a promise I heard loud and clear in my spirit. He said He would cause every single Bible to be a special blessing to someone. Only God can keep that kind of promise! This is amazing. God has now been doing this for 22 months. He is the Lord of the harvest!!
For anyone with a desire to help financially so that more Bibles can be purchased, please send to the address below. HOB is a legitimate 501-c3 non-profit organization. Receipts are sent out at the end of January for the previous tax year.
The need is huge and getting bigger by the day, but we serve a very big God. This may be the last year we have the opportunity to get Bibles to these folks as easily as we can right now. The Middle East is about to erupt in a huge war. People need to be reached as soon as possible. Multitudes will be killed when this happens].
H.O.B. City Of Jesus Ministry
3206 SW 45th St.
Redmond, OR 97756
Thank You and May God Bless You All, and…
Keep Looking Up!!