As I was watching the news a couple days ago, reports came in about three large earthquakes; one in Japan, another in Costa Rica, and a third located on the Iraq / Iran border. This last quake was the largest of the three and registered approximately 7.3 on the richter scale. Due to the quake being relatively shallow in depth, the effects were felt all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. At last count, there are well over 500 dead and the number of injured is approaching 7,500. I viewed dozens of images showing the damages and it looks like a war zone.
The House of Blessing has quite a number of missionaries located within the stricken area. Many of the HOB missionaries and the communities of believers surrounding them are located in western Iran and the Kurdistan region where most of the damages are being reported. As I began writing today’s update, I had not yet received a report from the field on how the underground HOB communities have fared. Then I received a call giving, not only information concerning the earthquake devastation, but also the latest from the work of the HOB missionaries.
We know that as long as we live in a fallen world and the effects of the curse have not been lifted, devastating events will continue to happen. In fact, the closer we get to the return of the Messiah, the more severe world conditions will become, whether geological, weather, cosmic, or political. Jesus warned us that there would be ever-increasing birth pangs the closer we get to the end of the age. What we are experiencing around the world is warnings. This is the mercy of God in warning that the things prophesied in the Scriptures are being fulfilled, now on a daily basis.
It has now been over two weeks since I had received a fresh report from Pastor R, but it is not surprising. He has been ministering in areas where there is little phone reception and the movements of the different military forces within Syria have been unpredictable and very dangerous. Please keep the House of Blessing missionaries, their leadership, and the hundreds of thousands who belong to the underground community of believers in earnest prayer. For those of us in the West, we really have no idea what it is like to live under the circumstances that the the HOB ministers in. But, God is good, and He answers the prayers of His faithful people!
I am continually reminded that time is quickly running out for this age. There is a reason why our Messiah, Jesus, instructed us, His faithful followers, to watch and pray. I am afraid that the majority of the church world is oblivious to what time it really is on the prophetic clock. The wars and rumors of wars that Jesus warned about were not meant to put us to sleep, but rather for us to be woken out of our slumber! The threats of war have increased exponentially since the beginning of the 20th century, but today the threat of worldwide thermonuclear war is beyond anything planet Earth has ever experienced. And, possibly the greatest threat of imminent war is in the Middle East. HOB’s missionaries are working feverishly to reach as many as possible before the door of the ark is shut.
It has been a great privilege to be connected to this great harvest in the Middle East. The stories we have been privileged to write for almost six years now are a source of great encouragement and inspiration for many. In spite of the naysayers, our God is very much alive today. And, in spite of the deniers, God is very much in control of the unfolding of history. We are witnessing a saga whose end was determined before the foundations of the Earth were ever laid. It just happens that God, in His sovereign wisdom and strategy, has planned for you and me to be part of the building of the Kingdom of God today. It was not random and it was not a coincidence. It was included in His flawless design! How great and marvelous is that?
We know from what the Old Testament prophets wrote thousands of years ago, that God’s foreign policy is centered on Israel. The geographical center of the world is in Jerusalem, and the bulls-eye is the Temple Mount. As I write this Mideast Update, the tensions are building to a fever pitch and Israel’s enemies are attempting to draw the Jewish people in between the jaws of a vise they cannot escape. They are surrounded by nations that would like to wipe the entire remembrance of the Jewish nation from the face of the earth. But then there is the Jewish nation’s GOD. It is God who has said that the Jewish nation would survive against all odds. It is because of God that they survived the overwhelming odds when they were attacked on the day of their independence in 1948. It was because of God that they have been undefeated in every war since 1948 until 2017. And it is God who will not allow enemies like the mullahs in Iran to obliterate the nation as they have so often threatened to do. Neither will any army or coalition of armies ever be able to destroy Israel. God has made a promise to Abraham and his descendants that He sovereignly will honor. It is not because the Jewish people are better than anyone else on this planet, but rather, because they were chosen to be the host nation through which the Savior of the world would be born. By way of this Savior, born a Jew, salvation would be offered to the whole world. It was God’s plan from the beginning of time to provide salvation through the Jews to the Gentile world.
As we know though, the powers of hell have not been on the side of the Jews. That is because these fallen powers have been opposed to every part of God’s plans. So, the Jewish nation must be attacked and, if possible, totally eliminated. This is the reason for the many attempts to exterminate the Jewish race from the world, including the holocaust during WWII. God didn’t allow the nation to be eliminated, nor will He.
You might be wondering why I am addressing these issues in this update. Here is my reason. The next war that Israel is being drawn into will be the most far reaching war they will have been involved in since their independence. This war will involve all of the nations bordering Israel and that will, of course, greatly affect the House of Blessing. As has been mentioned in these updates before, Damascus will be totally destroyed, and according to the way I understand the prophetic Scriptures, Israel will have their hand in this destruction. As I am writing this update, great changes are happening all around Israel. The prime minister of the nation of Lebanon now appears virtually under the control of the terrorist group, Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia’s 91-year-old King Mohammad bin Salmon, is handing the throne over to his 32-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salmon. The new king has already initiated a major corruption purge in Saudi Arabia, which of course also removes many would-be competitors to his sovereignty. Many billions in funds have also been confiscated from the approximate 500 men that are under house arrest within the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.
One thing that is known about this new king is that he intends to confront Iran’s expansion in the Middle East. In fact, he leans toward war. Iran presently has 13 bases in Syria, as well as tens of thousands of troops throughout the nation. They also have a strong influence on the government in Iraq, which now since ISIS has lost most of its control in much of Iraq and Syria, has opened the door for Iran and its proxy Hezbollah to have a clear path all the way from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. Iran is also funding the Houthi terrorists in Yemen that continue to attack Saudi Arabia from the south.
One of the possible benefits of the proposed changes in Saudi Arabia is that Christians may have an opportunity to share Jesus due to possible easing of the restrictions. We will see what God does! It would be something to see the Good News of Jesus Christ invade the center of Islam, Mecca! One way or another, however God chooses to do so, He will prove Himself the one and only real GOD. Not, the demon god, Allah. The love of God is making inroads all over the Muslim world today. Even though the House of Blessing has no involvement with any of these political maneuverings, they are inevitably affected by them.
Israel is being pushed into a corner and soon they will have to act preemptively. When they do, it will involve all of their border nations, including Hamas-controlled Gaza–which also takes its orders from Tehran. HOB has one interest, and that is souls. Time is running out but God continues to open doors.
Now for the latest from the House of Blessing.
Regular readers of the Mideast Updates will remember the story of Fatima and Munzer. As you might remember, Munzer had reached three head sheikhs with the Good News of the Messiah Jesus. All three headed large prominent mosques. Their names are Mahmoud, Salah, and Fahme. These men need much more discipling but are very hungry to learn from the Scriptures and have been receiving teaching. I learned from Pastor R that these three men have now invited Fatima to come to their mosques and teach them about communion. This means that these men and all those attending will not only learn about communion but will also learn about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the empowerment for sharing the Gospel that comes through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the two years since Fatima’s husband Salem was martyred, many thousands of believers have been gathering as often as possible for communion. During these times of great refreshing, God has been moving in power among the people, with many being healed and baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is a miraculous opening that God has provided and we’re expecting to hear great things in the near future as God continues the miracle of reconciliation between Munzer and Fatima.
Elsewhere around the Fallujah area, the work of the missionaries continues. There are still 180 that are receiving intense Bible classes and will soon be completing their courses and joining the rest of the army of HOB missionaries.
In Mosul there are 350 students still taking their courses. In the Kurdistan area there are another 300 studying, and in Iran still another 220. One area we have not discussed much in these updates is Tal Afar, Iraq. Added to the many other locations is Tal Afar, an area liberated from ISIS just weeks ago. HOB has an additional 450 gathering to study the Word of God. All these are expected to be completing their courses soon and joining the rest of the volunteer missionaries as well. In each location, the classes continue whenever it is possible to do so. The political environment affects their studies, and most recently the earthquake hitting the Iran / Iraq border this past week took a toll. I am told that 25 HOB missionaries lost their lives in the earthquake while in the service of their Lord. I do not have a number of those that may have been injured. We pray for the missionaries that have to deal with the aftermath of this disaster. The area hit by the quake looks like a war zone.
In other areas, the work also continues. In and around the Damascus area, Omar, Salem, and the three other leading teachers that just graduated their large number of students, are now out going from house to house. In each home they visit, the first visit is used to introduce the real Jesus to the people and by the time their second visit has been completed, the folks pray the sinner’s prayer and become followers of the Messiah. So far, they have visited over 200 homes with near identical results. Pastor R’s twelve specially trained men have also had very good results as they share the love of God with the people. In the last two weeks, they have been able to reach 140 who have now become believers in Jesus Christ.
Sister Sarah is another continuing walking miracle. She has been ministering to over 160 in the last few days but plans are in motion for her to gather another large meeting. This gathering will be up north in the area where Mufiedah and Fatwa have been ministering. This past few days, these women and those of the Widow Sisterhood helping them were able to minister healing to 36 war-injured people. Each also, as usually happens, have become followers of Jesus. God is good!
Pastor R shared with me that Hafezah and Ferial went all the way to Deir Ezzor to lead the gathered HOB community of believers in a communion service. One thing that is becoming more and more obvious as time passes,there are underground communities of believers all over the Mideast! And the numbers keep growing!
As long and detailed as this Mideast Update is, it really is only the tip of the iceberg of what is going on today. As always, I ask you to pray earnestly for the House of Blessing missionaries and their leadership. As the numbers of believers grows, so does the need for prayer and support. The missionaries are expecting the cold winter rains to begin next week, especially in the northern areas. Winters have proven brutal especially for those who are so exposed to the elements. But, God uses every situation and circumstance for His honor and glory. It is the true followers of Jesus who express God’s love. And it is only the true disciples of Jesus who can love from the heart. It is visible and obvious to the masses of the lost. It is a love like the young nine year old girl below has likely never experienced. As a nine year old, she has found herself in a circumstance where her family is hiding in an unlikely place for a family to survive. She and her family survive by her slipping out of their hiding place to look for scraps of food to keep her family alive, and her older siblings from being taken by the militants because of their more mature age.
I want to thank each of you who prays and each who supports the work of the House of Blessing. Generous gifts made available recently are supplying Bibles, winter clothing, and much more. God is good. Please keep Pastor R in special prayer. He is still struggling with a throat infection and cold, but continues praying for 400-500 people a day. He also is quite busy getting around to all those who have completed their HOB School of Ministry courses so that he can witness their humble graduation ceremonies and present their certificates. How amazing is our God?!
Forever in His Service,