I have made reference more than once to the warnings Jesus left us concerning what would unfold in the period of time just prior to His return, but in light of the desperate situations in the Middle East, I would like to do so again. In Matthew 24:3-14, we have these words:
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But, he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
All of these things are happening today; in fact, they have been happening for some time now. If we were to take the time to give a few statistics on how these things have escalated in the last decade alone, most would be stunned. War, for instance. Jesus warned that there would be an increase of wars and rumors of wars. We all know that mankind’s history is full of wars, but, most do not know how dramatically the number of wars has multiplied over the centuries. We have more wars, rumors of wars, ethnic struggles, religious genocides, civil wars, political coups, and rumors of all of the above, than ever in history. Our world is coming undone…and our House of Blessing missionaries are facing very critical and dangerous times.
Much of the attention of the mainstream news is locked in on politics in the West, particularly in the United States, and so most people have no idea about much of what is going on in other parts of the world. The Middle East is on fire and in danger of breaking out in a major conflict–a conflict that will inevitably be the lit fuse leading to World War Three.
This is not the time for me to explain all of the different entities involved, and how convoluted the situation really is–especially when one begins to unravel who the opposing sides are. Suffice it to say that there is more than a little chaos. Regardless of who is enemy to whom, the innocents are being killed by the thousands by all the different military forces involved. The coalition forces, particularly the Iraqi army, are attempting to take the large city of Fallujah back from ISIS. ISIS has been in control of Fallujah for about the last two years. In the last few weeks, the situation in Fallujah and the surrounding area has gotten worse and worse. We are told that people have literally been starving to death because there is no food to be found. Neither the United Nations nor the Red Cross have gotten any food into the area either.
Now, the Iraqi army, along with coalition forces, is determined to take the city back, using all force and means necessary. People are being urged to evacuate the city because of the violent measures that are going to be taken. Hundreds are attempting to do so, but there is nowhere for them to go. Whereas some temporary refugee accommodations could have been set up within a few days, nothing of the kind has been made available. The evacuees have been given no destination to go to, so they are having to head out into the desert with no means of survival. What makes it even worse, ISIS is killing everyone they catch trying to leave. The people are being sandwiched between the brutal ISIS jihadists and the incoming Iraqi army with all of its heavy weaponry! And…many, if not most, HOB missionaries have chosen to stay put. They have decided to trust God for His protection and do what they can to minister to the multitudes. There are scores of injured, many dying and headed into eternity. The missionaries are working all hours doing what they can to reach them before they have taken their last breath.
According to the latest reports from Pastor R, another 50 believers were killed in the Fallujah area within the last few days, as well as another 18 in Mosul. Both cities are under terrible conditions. Please keep them all in prayer, especially the leaders, for God’s wisdom in how to deal with situations as they come up. Some of the leaders’ names in the area are Brothers Adel, Khaled, Mustafa, Akram, Muhnad, Ramzie, and Sami.
Sister Fatima is continuing with the special communion services but due to the conditions, the numbers are greatly reduced. Yet, she is serving between 300-400 per day. These brave missionaries are standing tall and refuse to live in fear of anything, even war. The people around see this as the only place of true peace, love, and spiritual revitalization.
The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate as well. Four of the new leaders, Ayman, Yitzhak, Ali, and Atta have worked very hard in the Aleppo area to rebuild as many tents as possible, as well as get the Christians and innocents buried that have been killed in the bombings. While they were working with the refugees, they were able to reach another 50 people with the good news of God’s provision of forgiveness for sin through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Four more of the brethren, Abed Allah, Ahmad, Kayed, and Yunis, were able to preach the gospel in the Deraz region while working among the displaced civilians.
I have also been told that HOB was able to bring in two full truckloads of wheat. This is 80 tons of flour which they have been able to feed many tens of thousands of people. The photos show how the women take the flour, mix it with water and oil, and make what looks something like a large tortilla. It helps to put something in the stomachs of the hungry crowds of people. I am told there were at least 300 women working at this.
Four other leaders that we have mentioned and prayed for before, Moussa, Ghazi, Yosef, and Fahad. continue to evangelize, calling people to the forgiveness offered through Jesus. They prayed the sinner’s prayer with about 200 people, who became part of God’s Kingdom in the last few days. Praise God!
Sister Mufiedah, leader of the “Widow Sisterhood” continues treating and ministering to the war injured, and the Lord used her to treat and heal at least 25 people since the last update. Every one of these folks also accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master!
With every update, there continues to be the tragic news. In addition to those I already mentioned above who lost their lives, another seven women in the ranks of the believers were killed during air raids. Added to this were five children and a large family of ten members who were killed by a missile strike. Yet, in the middle of all this, Hafezah and Ferial continue serving communion with as many as they can. They had a large communion service for between 1,300 and 1,400 people who were all empowered by the Spirit of God. Every single one was blessed and experienced great joy after being touched by the Holy Spirit.
After thinking about the news in this update from the front lines, I had to stop and imagine what it must be like to put such gatherings together in the middle of the utter carnage and chaos brought about by these bombing runs and missile strikes. I have to ask myself, could I do this? The Bible does tell us that…we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. This also tells me how important it is to maintain our intimate walk with God. That is the only way one could ever experience God’s peace in the middle of such circumstances.
Pastor R has been meeting with twenty of his leaders. The Islamic month of Ramadan is coming up, starting on the 6th of June, and there is a need for 4,000 Bibles by then. This is always a time of great harvest for the Kingdom of God, but the missionaries and believers that will be out evangelizing really need Bibles to use. Most do not have their own copy. House of Blessing had never intended to be part of getting supplies like wheat, tents, clothing, and medicine into the refugee areas, but with people dying all around, it is hard to ignore the huge human tragedy that is unfolding. God has, however, opened the hearts of many thousands as they have been helped by the believers, and as a result a great harvest has been realized through these efforts. Just a reminder, please keep Pastor R in your prayers. As we have shared before, there is mustard gas being used in many places, including in the Damascus metropolitan area as well as other places in and around Syria. He has difficulty with his breathing and needs to be held up in earnest prayer.
At this time, we are at the point of asking God for manna! This may sound strange, but monies need to be spent on Bibles, and very quickly. Please pray that God opens the windows of heaven so that a large purchase of Bibles can be made as quickly as possible. We serve a very big GOD!
Thank you all for your generosity and especially for your earnest effectual prayers for Pastor R, the leadership of House of Blessing, and the multitudes of new believers who are in the worst of situations. Every week when Pastor R calls, he says over and over how grateful he is for the prayers that are offered on their behalf. He can feel their effect, and only asks that we continue.
God Bless you all. Time is short; our LORD and Master is returning very, very soon now!