I have used Ephesians 5:14-17 as a passage of Scripture lately in Bible studies and even mentioned it on occasion while writing these Mideast Updates. The passage reads like this:
Therefore He says: “Awake you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
So, what is the will of the Lord? We can hear many answers to this question; some of them will be right, others will be off the mark. We live in an opinionated age and the masses demand to be heard. The world has seen this manifested in U.S. politics with the inauguration of a new president. We have once again witnessed a peaceful transition of power and we thank God that the threats of violence so far have proven to be, for the most part, only threats.
This is an age in which the people want to speak their mind and they demand that their rights are not infringed upon. I don’t want to get into politics today because this is not the purpose of this update. There is however a point to be made. Some of the issues that people are demonstrating about today show the madness of how twisted our thinking can get when we stray from the laws and principles of the One who created us…and the masses, instead of thinking for themselves, follow the crowd chanting whatever someone with a bullhorn happens to be shouting at the moment. One of society’s problems today is not drawing clear lines between right and wrong. And this brings me to another Scripture. In Isaiah 66 we find the great prophet making a clear distinction between how man sees things and in contrast, how God sees things.
Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66: 1-2
Then in verses 3a-4:
“Just as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations. So will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them; because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight”
In the Bible we have an abundance of warnings that in the days just prior to the return of the Messiah, there would be an increase of great wickedness, self-indulgence, and outright rebellion against God and His divine laws and order. We are seeing the stark reality of this more every day. I am reminded of Psalm 2 where we find these poignant words:
Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us. Psalm 2:1-3
It is worth noting that the some of the things that people protest about the most have to do with the demand for rights to do things that are directly contrary to God’s laws. One example of this is abortion. Hundreds of thousands of American women are demonstrating for the right to kill their own children, doing so under the guise of wanting rights over their own bodies. One has to ask, “what about the rights of that little body within the body of the mother?” It was former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan that once said, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born!” I also had a friend telling me that he finds it interesting that most of the same people who are demanding the right to kill an unborn child are also the ones protesting the hardest against capital punishment! It seems to me that one seems to be in conflict with the other. Abortion of course is only one issue.
The point of saying all this is to say that true followers of Jesus Christ will find themselves on a collision course with the world around them, no matter where on this planet they live. We, as the followers of Christ will find ourselves in conflict whether we live in the United States, Australia, Europe, Asia, or in the Middle east. The ways of God are contrary to the ways of man, and there is only one way of true salvation…Jesus Christ. But, wherever the Gospel is preached, souls are being turned from an eternity of total loss. This is the purpose that the House of Blessing, its leadership under Pastor R, and the HOB missionaries live for, and so should we all. The Apostle Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
As we continue monitoring the news from the Middle East, no matter what peace-agreements are signed, and no matter what military movements and adjustments are made, people are continuing to be killed and hope for anything better continues to be destroyed. While the world has been focused on the effort to liberate Mosul from ISIS, the barbaric terrorist group has found refuge 100 miles south in the city of Hawija. This is a city that is 160 miles north of Baghdad, and two hours’ south of Mosul. People inside describe the situation as horrible. People are dying because of hunger. ISIS has been in control of the city, an almost entirely Sunni Muslim, 100,000-person city south of Kirkuk–since the Iraqi Army withdrew on June 16,2014. More than 2½ years later, the city is a horror-scape of garbage, sickness and starvation. With things not going well for ISIS in other areas, they take out their rage on those they hold captive. Bodies of those that have been publicly executed litter the streets. Some of the bodies are wrapped in bags, others are not.
One can say much of the same for the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor. ISIS sets tires and barrels of crude oil on fire in order to try and create a smoke screen from the Syrian regime warplanes. Those that are captured by ISIS receive some of the most brutal treatment a person can imagine. It was reported this last week that ten Syrian soldiers were executed by being forced to the ground while tanks ran over them. The World Food Organizations say the clashes have forced them to suspend aid drops to Deir Ezzor, where more than 200,000 are trapped and face starvation and death. What is happening in these two cities, one in Iraq and the other in Syria, are examples that describe many other locales, cities, and towns.
These are the circumstances the missionaries are working under. In northern Syria where Mufidah, Fatwa, Hafezah, along with the rest of the Widow Sisterhood are ministering, many are dying of the cold. But, in spite of it all, Mufidah and Fatwa continue ministering to the wounded, and then lead them to a genuine submission to the only true Messiah, Jesus Christ. Hafezah continues serving communion to many hundreds of worshippers. Sister Sarah also continues with the ministry God has given her. I remember when I heard the very beginning of her story as she approached Pastor R with a bag containing bloody parts of what was left of her child. It took the hand of God to reach her, but ever since, her testimony continues to turn others toward the only One that can offer true forgiveness, peace, comfort, and an inheritance for eternity. The Good News found in the pages of the Bible are the only source of hope for any of these people and they are responding in great numbers. At the time of my last call from Pastor R, several hundred more people had been reached by the HOB missionaries in northern Syria.
In Fallujah, violence continues, almost unabated. There are many different Islamic extremist groups in the area and they continue killing each other, and anyone else who happens to be in the way. Brother Adel said dozens more of their people were lost. They did have a great response again to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and Sister Fatima held communion for hundreds of Christian believers! A miracle that will likely continue until the day that the Lord calls His true Church, the Bride of Christ, home!
In Mosul, the coalition forces have control of most of East Mosul, including some of the main bridges over the Tigris river. Most of the western portion of Mosul is still under the control of ISIS. People have fled the city by the tens of thousands. Many are killed by booby traps, shot outright by extremists, starve to death, or succumb to the elements. The refugees continue struggling to keep their tents up during the worst of the weather. The missionaries find helping them with their tents as one means of showing the love of God to them. Somewhere around 1,200 people have turned to Christ again as a result. God is good!
I am also able to report that the three missing widows have been found and are fellowshipping with the rest of the Christian believers once again and under their care.
I will conclude this report by saying that there is a sense among believers all across the world that the return of our Messiah for the Bride of Christ is very soon. We have always known that it is imminence, and, the imminence of His second coming has always been a belief meant to be kept close to our hearts and minds. But, there is an urgency now that is greater than ever before. Folks, we are going HOME soon. Are you ready? Are you prepared? Are you running your course as God has given it to you to run? Today is the day to see to it! As the Scripture tells us, “redeem the time, for the days are evil.”
Many thanks to all that have prayed for House of Blessing and all those that have given financially to see the work of the ministry continue. God always multiplies all of our efforts done in His Name. Please continue praying for Pastor R. Last I heard, he was still in the hospital. He is especially susceptible to winter ailments. But…God is able.
Always in His Service,
Jake Geier email@example.com
House of Blessing; 3206 SW 45th Street; Redmond, Oregon USA 97756