It has now been nearly two weeks since I have written an official Mideast update. For those of us in the West, the days go by quickly, especially during the holidays. Here in America, we have just celebrated Thanksgiving. This is a time for getting together with friends, but especially family. Being truly thankful for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us is so very important. It is too easy to take things for granted. We find God’s Word telling us this in Colossians 3:15-17:
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
For people in war-torn countries or locations where there is not the freedom we have, or maybe even outright anarchy, the days may not have gone by as quickly. Much of the third world Church is trying to survive from one moment to the next.
This is maybe a good time for a much needed comment directed to the Western Church. There is nothing in God’s Word that implies that believers who are experiencing easier times are to feel guilty because of the blessings God has allowed. The instruction to be liberal in our thankfulness to our Father in heaven is however scattered through the entire Bible. We are also not to forget to pray for those who are going through tough times, especially our brethren in the faith. These are the words we find in Hebrews 13:3:
Remember the prisoners as if chained with them–those who are mistreated–since you yourselves are in the body also.
While keeping these thoughts in mind, let’s look at the latest news I received from the House of Blessing’s founder, Pastor R. As it has been for some time now, the war in the Middle East is the dominating headline for that part of the world. This also affects every single HOB missionary and all of the believers they are discipling. The Russian military machine is getting more entrenched in Syria every day. Allied with them of course is Iran’s military, who in turn gives orders to both Hezbollah and Hamas. These forces are in in conflict with the Allied Nato forces. All of these forces are attacking either by air or on the ground. Even though everyone claims to be making great attempts at trying to avoid the killing of innocents, thousands are being killed just the same. This part of the saga has not changed; in fact, it continues to get worse.
House of Blessing has lost at least five more of Mofidah’s “Widow Sisterhood” since my last update. Between Iraq and Syria, there have also been about a half dozen HOB missionaries killed. The bombing runs are incessant. In northern Syria, through two phone calls, I have received reports of near 70 of the new believers having been killed in the last few days. There were at least 120 of the new believers injured in the same general area. The injuries include many serious injuries to limbs, many of them in compound fractures. God has been merciful however and has blessed Mofidah’s band of women with many of these folks being healed outright! The Book of Acts continues to be written!
In a previous update, I mentioned that HOB had authorized the rental of a tractor to be used in northern Syria to bury the dead. This has in fact now been done, and the HOB missionaries buried as many of the dead as they could, not just the believers, but many non-believers as well. Getting the deceased into the ground is so important, as it helps to avoid the diseases coming from decomposing bodies.
Fallujah, Iraq has been hit very hard of late. There is also much chaos and much death. Many of the new believers have been killed, including quite a number of children. There is also tremendous collateral damage, with many homes being destroyed. People feel fortunate just to escape with their lives. This of course extends across the nation, not just in Fallujah. People are just trying to stay alive. Most have nothing left, and have to depend on whatever they can find to survive on.
At the same time as all of these tragedies are unfolding, there is much good news. The people across the Mideast, maybe because of their desperation, are very open to the good news of Jesus Christ and the power of His Blood to set them free from sin and its consequence of eternal death. The people are very hungry, cold, and thousands have no shelter. As the HOB missionaries share what food and supplies they can come up with, the people become very responsive and as a result, in Syria and Iraq, there have been well over three thousand more in the last ten days or so who have become followers of Jesus Christ.
These thousands of new believers include a great number that have been reached by the group of sheikhs that found Jesus as their Savior while they were on the way to the Hajj in Saudi Arabia just a few weeks ago. By the report I received from Pastor R on Friday, these sheikhs have now been able to reach quite a number of other Muslim sheikhs, who have now also prayed the sinner’s prayer and have been baptized in water. They are now being discipled and are becoming ambassadors for God’s Kingdom just as the others have!
The HOB missionaries who are in the Kurdistan area are also having to deal with the increase of the war, especially since Turkey has begun using their air force in northern Iraq. In Iran, the going has been slow but methodical and the missionaries have been able to reach one family at a time.
In closing this update, I ask for each of you faithful readers to remember Pastor R and the House of Blessing leaders and missionaries in your daily prayers. Also, please lift up each of the new believers that they are training. Hundreds of innocents are dying daily, either by being murdered for their faith in Jesus the Messiah, or by being in areas that are being hit with bombs or missiles. The desperation is everywhere. The need for wheat, clothing, mattresses, medicine, and Bibles is enormous. As the resources become available, truckloads can be sent to whatever area is presently the most desperate. This last week, the Lord spoke to someone directly and enough resources came in that a truckload of wheat was delivered to the area in northern Syria where most of Mofidah’s widows are located. God is good!
Thank you one and all for your faithfulness. Our God answers prayer!