A second century Church father was quoted as saying this: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” From the time that Stephen, the first official Christian martyr, was stoned to death in AD 36, Christians have been laying down their lives for the One who gave His life for them. I believe God has a special book in heaven that records the name and life story of every single Christian martyr. The number of Christian martyrs has multiplied exponentially in this last century, especially since the year 2000. Hundreds of these in the past four years were part of the House of Blessing. I found it interesting that John Kerry, the United States Secretary of State, finally, after all this time, has decided to recognize the fact that Christians in the Middle East truly are the victims of genocide. I am thankful that the day is soon coming when the last Christian martyr will have given his or her life, and Messiah Jesus will rule this earth in the flesh as our God-King.
In the last few days, I have received a couple phone calls from Pastor R, who is still located somewhere on the outskirts of the city of Damascus, and he filled me in on the latest of the House of Blessing news. Sunday evening we had made special arrangements and were blessed with a call just as a group of us was finishing up an afternoon and evening of fellowship and worship. It was a privilege to have prayer together even though it was 5:30 am in the Middle East and we were separated by 10,000 miles.
The circumstances in the Middle East have been so desperate that there had been some hope things might ease up some for the refugees if the rumored ceasefire had any validity to it. As it turned out, even though some of the bombing runs were limited, the civil war itself is certainly not over, neither is the tremendous suffering the people are going through.
Pastor R told me that another 14 of the “Widow Sisterhood” were caught by ISIS in northern Syria, as were another 22 former sheikhs in Iraq who had become believers in Jesus. All of these were put to the ultimate test, with the terrorists demanding that they recant their belief in Jesus and turn back to Islam, Allah, and his prophet Muhammad. Not a single one of them would bend no matter what was done to them! It is an amazing thing to hear the testimonies of the courage, loyalty, and faith that these brand new believers demonstrated under such harsh conditions! I cannot help but ask myself if my own love for the Lord is as strong! I have faith in the fact that my own faith would rise to the same level if I were called on to stand up for my Lord under similar circumstances. The Lord has already promised that He would be at our side no matter what it is that we might face. One of the many promises God has given us is found in Deuteronomy 31:6 and it reads like this:
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
Then, 2 Timothy 1:7 has this to say:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
There is nothing that the devil or any of his minions can do to us when we are walking with the God of all creation. It is His power that we walk in, and His wisdom we live our lives in, and His surrounding Presence we are immersed in. God even promises us in Isaiah 58 that He will be our rear guard! And, if the time comes that we have the honor of suffering for His Name, He will bring us through it, and directly into His presence!
One thing that has recently become evident is that Islamic jihadists see themselves in a competition of sorts with the missionaries. They in fact see themselves as participating in a “holy war.” Their belief is that their delivery of the Islamic message needs to be stronger and more effective than the message the Christian missionaries are delivering. If they cannot overcome the message of the missionaries, they gladly resort to violent means–the Qu’ran not only condones, but even commands this.
The message of God’s love for the human race through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is in such contrast to Islam that Muslim people are committing themselves to the Lordship of Jesus in great numbers. Whereas Islam teaches that the infidel must be forced to bend the knee to Allah and his prophet Muhammad or be beheaded, the Bible teaches that we are to love our enemy and pray for those who spitefully use us. Whereas Islam teaches the right of vengeance, the Bible says, “Vengeance is mine,” says the LORD. Whereas women and children are considered possessions for a Muslim male, God shows a man what treasures he has in his wife and children! How can any other belief system compete with such good news straight from the heart of God?
Because of this, and due to the huge number of new believers, there is a seemingly unending line of people very much desiring to learn more about God–the real God, and His teachings! In Fallujah and the surrounding area, brother Adel and those assisting him, are setting up locations so that at least 1,000 can go through HOB’s School of Ministry at a time. This still leaves thousands waiting their turn, but the missionary teachers will teach them as soon as they can possibly work them into the teaching schedule. At this time, HOB is trying to get Bibles together so that there are at least enough for the people to share as they go through their intensive course of study.
As this is going on in Iraq, Kurdistan, and Iran, Sister Mufiedah continues with her widows, ministering healing to the war injured. Each and every one of those ministered to also prays the sinner’s prayer, asking forgiveness for sin, and asking Jesus Christ to become Lord of their lives. People across the Mideast that are being raised up in the things of God by HOB missionaries are also taking communion as they are able to. Healings continue, and a great many are baptized with the Holy Spirit as well!
Pastor R continues raising up the special group of twelve that he has picked. These men are being trained into mature men of God as brother Omar was. God has His hand on these men, and He has a special hand on Pastor R. Prayer is greatly needed for each and every one.
The needs today are of course to try and keep as many alive as possible, at least until they can get the news of Jesus’ love. The missionaries are hardly eating themselves, preferring to try and stretch what they have for the benefit of the lost around them. But, this is not where the most effort is applied. The greatest need is to get Bibles into the hands of the new believers. HOB is still able to get Bibles which have been printed into Arabic through an underground print shop. The printer keeps some on hand because he knows someone will be in to purchase them as soon as they are able. We thank God for His provisions, both for the finances to buy Bibles, and also for the print shop and its owner whose life is always in great danger!
Thank you all so much for your care, prayers, and gifts. Great care is taken to spend each and every dollar in a way that honors Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
One last Scripture in closing this update.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
Till He calls us HOME,