In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 we find these words penned by the Apostle Paul:
We are not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There is far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.(The Message)
I have been reading a book written in 1999 telling many stories of Christian martyrs through the ages. One of these stories was of a man named Mira Jarali in Bangladesh, 1997. Thirty Christian families had been brought before a mosque and were surrounded by about 500 Muslims. The crowd shouted, “You’d better leave Christianity and become Muslim again, if you do, we will help you. If not, we will beat you.” All thirty families had to stand while they were being interrogated. When Mira’s turn came to stand before the court he said, “In your religion there is no salvation, no hope for going to heaven. I have Jesus, and now I am whole. Now Jesus has forgiven my sins and I have hope for heaven.”
Mira was then tied to the back of another man and beaten for four days after which they were locked in a cell with sixty Muslim prisoners. The prisoners in this case were sympathetic and said this: It is better that you are Christians. It is a good life. Muslims are not at peace; they are always fighting each other.”
In this story, all of Mira’s land was confiscated, members of his family were beaten many times but nothing could destroy their spirit and trust in their Master. They said that Jesus had told them they would only be here a few days and then eternal life in His presence forever. This is something for us all to remember.
When we hear stories of people around the world who are being introduced to Jesus–who is coming soon as the KING and Creator of the entire universe, we are reminded of what we might be taking for granted and in doing so have become dangerously lax in our own personal walk with God! The world today is being warned that time truly has run out and our eternal destinies are at stake! In this generation, we have heard so often that the end is near that we are ignoring it for the most part, being guilty of what the Apostle Peter warned in 2 Peter 3:3-4 would happen in this generation:
…scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (NKJV)
But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts…(NKJV)
This tells us the world will be filled with people who do not pay any attention to the warnings given us by the God who knows the end from the beginning. It also tells us that people will be consumed with materialism, entertainment, and a nearly infinite array of “things” that will consume their time and energy, thinking that things will just continue on and on as they have been for millennia. Jesus warned us not to be caught up with the things of this world because they are coming to an end…SUDDENLY!
As I spoke again to Pastor R*****, I thought of what the Christian man in Bangladesh had been told by Jesus, “You are only here a for a few days.” When compared to eternity, this is all it is, just a few days! In the last couple of weeks, House of Blessing has once again experienced both the loss of missionaries’ lives but also the exciting reports of the many hundreds of Muslim people who for the first time in their lives have found forgiveness, peace, and a true eternal hope.
When we hear or read these updates, it is real easy to just add the numbers to what we have already heard for months now. Somewhere around 600 of HOB missionaries have now been lost in the last 35 months. Their deaths have come by the most horrific means. We dare not pass over these life accounts lightly. HOB is not the only group whose missionaries are being murdered for their testimony of Jesus, but it is the story of HOB that I know and take seriously my responsibility to share with others.
These last few days, another five of our “Widow Sisterhood” lost their lives for their faith. They refused to compromise their relationship with God even though they knew it would lead to their deaths.These brave women died in northern Syria. In Iraq there were 18 of HOB’s missionaries lost. They were located in the Kirkuk area. Brother O*** passed on the report of their deaths. Yet, the work continues, not only in Iraq and Syria, but also in Iran and Kurdistan.
One of the stories that has just gotten to me has to do with four or five women that had been badly injured. Their injuries were much like the Iraqi sheikhs some months back that Mofidah was asked to pray for. Leg bones were broken in multiple locations, some of them being compound fractures. Mofidah then prepared the same mixture that God had instructed her to use with the sheikhs. She then spread it on their legs and prayed for them. God answered in such a quick and miraculous way that all those around saw the healing. It was complete and the women were able to walk away, praising God for what He had done! These miracles happen so often now that it has become like a daily event. Many times people have been raised from the dead. The missionaries are also continuing to pray for those that are dying, many of them finding real peace in their souls through the forgiveness they receive, right in the last moments of time on this side of eternity. Seeing these things come to pass in an area of such spiritual blindness always brings great results. Although the devil is able to counterfeit many things that God does, he has not been able to stop the ministries of these committed Christian missionaries. God walks with them, He guides them, He empowers them, and He protects them until their job is complete and it is time for them to come home. We will never know of all of the amazing things God has done during this very difficult day until we are all gathered together in the presence of our Lord and KING.
This last winter has been very hard to endure. It is not over yet but the weather is showing signs of spring coming soon. God has made it possible for HOB to help thousands of refugees with clothing, blankets, mattresses, wheat, and other supplies. People often ask them why they would be willing to share so freely and this always gives an opportunity to share the love of God for them. A great many have been reached through the love shown in this giving. Thank you to all of you who have shared so generously in this very difficult time of need. Bibles have also been purchased and distributed to the new believers but there is always a very great need for more.
Our friend Pastor R***** told me that the war continues to become more intense every passing week. Scores of people are killed each time a bomb is dropped or a missile is shot from one of the jets. Chaos is caused with each attack and quite often missionaries are killed right along with the rest of the civilians caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. According to what I see in Bible prophecy, these middle east wars will continue to get worse. Times of quiet will be few and only temporary until the Prince of Peace comes. There is not a missionary who knows from one day to the next whether they will be able to return to their tent after leaving in the morning. They literally trust God for every moment of every day.
Most of us don’t live one day at a time. We assume that life will continue from one day to the next just as it has every other day of our lives. Any of us could be taken at any moment of any day. Our lives really are not in our control, they are in God’s control. James 4:14 tells us:
…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
Let’s continue praying for House of Blessing and all of their missionaries. Prayer makes a great difference! Helping them to be able to purchase Bibles also makes a huge difference. There is presently a need for 1000 Bibles. We will continue to believe God to meet the needs at hand. He has never failed.
I enclose link to a short news clip done by Fox News about what Christians are going through in the Middle East. It was well done and I hope you can take five minutes to watch it.
As always, donations towards the purchase of Bibles and/or physical needs can be sent to the following address for deposit to HOB’s account.
House of Blessing; P.O. Box 2093; Redmond, OR 97756
God Bless each of you,