It is a bit longer than normal since the last update was made available but it is because Pastor R has been in areas that do not all have phone reception. He has been traveling from village to village to teach, encourage, and pray for the many hundreds that he is visiting. He had to make a point of having someone bring him to a place where he knew he had reception to call in details for the update. Because it has been a while since the last update, I will also not get into much of the current news of the Middle East but will reserve some of that reporting for the next update.
With the yearly month of Ramadan now only days away, preparations by the House of Blessing are continuing to position the missionaries and whatever supplies they have available for this special time of harvest. Most readers know from past years’ updates what Ramadan has to do with the HOB missionaries. In explanation for new readers, Ramadan is a yearly Islamic month of fasting and prayer. Millions of Muslims also participate in the hajj which is the fifth pillar of Islam–a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca. The Lord God Almighty, Yahweh, through the Messiah, Jesus Christ, has appeared to many thousands as they fast and pray during this time. Even though prayers are being directed to the demon god, Allah, the Lord Almighty knows the hearts of those who are truly searching for truth. During this time, many thousands are also directed to hear the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as they are guided by the Lord to the very areas where the HOB missionaries are strategically placed. At times, the gatherings, like the one in the photo at the left are enormous.
(Note: Not all photos necessarily follow the narrative but are used as illustrations, using real photos from my files)
Pastor R is now completing the training of his top twelve men who are going to oversee all the rest of the missionaries. Whatever Bibles they have will be divided up, as well as the money available for getting the missionaries in place and sustaining them for this special time of evangelism. As it is every year, the HOB missionaries are prepared to do the work of the ministry through the early hours of the morning, usually until about 5 am or so, partly because of the summer heat and also because the needs of the people are always so great. Best of all, the Lord opens the hearts of many thousands during this time. We are praying that this will be the greatest harvest year of all to this point in time. At the time of the writing of this update, there is a great need for many more Bibles. Let’s pray to the Lord of the harvest to supply what these missionaries need starting in just a few days.
As far as the present work of the House of Blessing missionaries is concerned, here is what I received in Pastor R’s latest report by phone.
The two School of Ministry graduates, Same (Sammy) and Omar, along with the men helping them, are continuing in their teaching of the 2,000+ men that have been gathering to learn the basic principles from the Bible. Many of these are anxious to be able to help in the great work ahead. One of their greatest needs is also for many more Bibles. This is always a great need but it is only mentioned in these updates occasionally so that it does not seem that these updates are fundraising letters.
Sister Sarah is an amazing woman. Wherever she goes, the people gather to hear what she has to say. In the last few days, she was able to share with another 175 people. As regular readers know, her testimony is especially directed toward those who have had their little ones killed, whether by the never-ending bombings, missile strikes, or by the brutality of the jihadist killers. Many have miraculously seen their innocent children who had lost their lives in such a horrible fashion, in the presence of the Lord, completely restored and enjoying a special place in paradise provided for them. As hard as it is to look at, many of these children are left like the ones in the photo at the right. This is one of the less gruesome of those in my files. How hard would it be for you or I to deal with this kind of thing happening to our own children or grandchildren? You see, one of the contrasts between the false god, Allah, and the true God, Jehovah, is that Allah hates the human race and compels his followers to maim, kill, and brutalize others in the name of his religion. God, on the other hand, has proven His love for the human race by providing a way of forgiveness and an eternal destiny designed from before the foundation of the earth. It was Jesus who said these words:
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:9-11
What a contrast, wouldn’t you agree? This is the message that the missionaries are sharing: the love of God.
Through the Lord’s blessing, 180 souls were reached in the last few days. Tragically, another 18 new converts lost their lives. Because of the many deaths in this area, HOB is continues doing what they can to bury the dead. It’s a sad, continuing reality in this part of the world.
Up north in Syria, Fatwa was able to minister to 14 more of the badly wounded, and Mufidah another 19. All of these were nursed back to health and each also found that they wanted to become part of the family of believers in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Each one prayed, asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness, asking Jesus to now be Lord of their lives. Praise God!
Hafezah was able to share communion with 975 of the community of believers as they gathered in different places in her part of Syria. In Iraq, Fatima shared communion with 740. Other communion services are being held that we do not have numbers for. It is wonderful what God is doing for individuals as they gather for this special time of refreshing. God is good!
Adel and Khaled are continuing with their work of the ministry in the Fallujah region. There are still attacks by ISIS but they are not as prevalent as before. Six of the HOB missionaries lost their lives in this area but during the last few days another 130 souls were turned toward Christ, the one and only true God.
The Mosul area has been very difficult for many months now. Although a multinational force to retake Mosul from ISIS is engaged in this struggle, it has been very much more difficult than originally anticipated. There are still hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians that are trapped. The more pressure ISIS militants are under, the more brutal they are to the people who they use as human shields. This is a conflict that, for the sake of the innocent civilians, will hopefully be over in the not too distant future.
Mustafa and Akram are doing the best they can under the conditions. They are able to get to some areas that the UN is not able or willing to go into. People are dying daily from starvation, dehydration due to extreme diarrhea and vomiting, lack of clean water, and no medications. The best that the Christian brethren can do is try to get to them before they expire. Another 290 souls were reached since the last update but sadly ISIS murdered another 24 of the new converts.
The 56 widows in the Mosul area that have been receiving special treatment due to their captivity to ISIS militants are still being faithfully ministered to by House of Blessing women. Soon they will be able to integrate back with the rest of the Christian community. Unfortunately, one of the 56 passed away a few days ago due to illness. Praise God she is now in the presence of Jesus. She will never suffer again.
We that are far from the chaos of some of the Middle East nations need to remember that each of these people we report on, whether missionary or civilian, are individuals known by God. Because the love of God has touched each of our hearts, we cannot ignore the plight of these, our Christian brethren, as if their problems have nothing to do with us. They do. We are part of the same family; the family of God and the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We must pray for them and we must do what we can do to help, however the Spirit of God leads.
In Acts 4 we have a prayer from the first century. The Lord put this prayer on my mind last night as I slept. I am sure many others have prayed a prayer much like it through the centuries since it was recorded in the Bible. I suspect that the House of Blessing missionaries will be praying a similar prayer as they face the challenge of ministering the Word of God to the Muslim people this coming month of Ramadan. They well know the dangers ahead, but they also know of the tremendous miracles the Lord has performed in past years during this same period of time. The prayer by the apostles in the first century reads like this:
…They raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: “Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers were gathered together against the LORD and against His Christ.’ For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Actos 4:24-31
Let’s continue in our prayers for these faithful missionaries. God hears our prayers and will answer them as we pray with earnestness and by the leading of the Spirit of God. God is good! For those who would like to help in the work of the ministry of House of Blessing, you will notice that a PayPal button has been added for donation convenience. 100% of all donations go straight to the work of the missionaries.
Forever in His Service,