In Matthew 24:9: we find Jesus predicting things to come for the Church Age:
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. (Matthew 24:9-14, NKJV)
After receiving back to back calls from Syria and hearing of the terrible things that transpired this last week, I did a lot of thinking of the long history of persecution the true Church has gone through these last 2000 years. It was only a short time between Jesus’ ascension and the death of the first Christian martyr. This was James, the son of Zebedee, brother of John the Beloved. James was the first of the Apostles to die as a martyr, and John was the only apostle to survive all the attempts to kill him, finally dying somewhere between 94 and 102 years of age. Since that time, untold millions have been murdered in the most barbaric ways known to man. Yet, as has been pointed out before, more believers have been martyred in this last century than the combined total of those martyred in the previous 1900 years. That number has now greatly escalated in the last 15 years!
The war going on between Bashar al-Assad, ISIS, and the rebel forces which are being aided by several Gulf nations, the U.S. and NATO, is getting worse by the day. This is also the case in Iraq, where ISIS has control of several major cities as well as much of the rural areas. Since the fall of Ramadi, ISIS now has a direct highway link to Damascus, Syria, and Amman, Jordan. Baghdad itself is in serious danger. And in Syria, Assad appears to be back on his heels, with much of his fighting force having been destroyed or gone missing. Assad is now mainly trying to save the major cities. As I mentioned in the last update, about 80% of Assad’s Alawite Shiite support has abandoned him. Both Iraq and Syria are in the greatest turmoil they have been in for a very long time. To this point, Russia is still backing Assad, as are Iran and Hezbollah, which are both Shiite. ISIS is Sunni Muslim, but a brand of their own. They believe they are the only true followers of Muhammad and his teachings. Their aim is to bring about a new caliphate and either force all others to bow to their brand of Islam or die. At the same time, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced Erd-o-wan), prime minister of Turkey, wants to be the leader of the new caliphate. In Turkey, he is beginning to be worshipped nearly as a god by much of the population.
The reason I say all this is that the missionaries in the Middle East, not just House of Blessing volunteers, but all the missionaries there, are living through extremely difficult times. Of course, my connection has been with HOB and this is why I write these weekly updates. As the situations are worsening–and they most certainly are, the number of those finding Jesus as the real Messiah is multiplying. Every missionary that falls becomes the seed that brings life to oftentimes a hundred new souls that, because of the power of Jesus’ Blood, will spend eternity in the Kingdom of God!
The last few weeks have been very difficult and there is no let-up. The refugee camps are being ravished by war and by the demonic hatred of the many jihadist groups. The people who have lost everything and have nowhere to go are being killed by the thousands every week. This last week thousands have tried to escape into Turkey again. How many make it is unknown. Others have tried to get into Jordan, Lebanon, and even Israel. The Middle East is a powder keg that has many fuses leading in all directions, and these fuses have already been lit. It is not a matter of if there will be a major Middle East war, but rather, when. It is looking more and more like ISIS is becoming the strongest military in the region, with the exception of Israel. ISIS has not tested Israel yet but has threatened to do so several times. ISIS does already have some of their fighters in the Gaza strip.
The report from this last week tells us that four more of Mofidah’s widows were killed along with many others when a bomb exploded where they were ministering. As I understand it, most of Mofidah’s widows are ministering in the northern part of Syria, although they go in small groups in all directions as the Lord leads them. Getting killed is not one of their concerns and so they go out each day not knowing if they will be back to their tent in the evening or find themselves in the presence of the Lord God.
I am not sure how many of the rest of the HOB missionaries were lost in Syria these last few days but I do know that Brother Omar lost seven of his brave men. Eight of them were caught with their Bibles, sharing the Gospel. These eight were captured by over 40 ISIS thugs. Without getting too graphic, I will tell you that all eight of these men were brutally and repeatedly sodomized by this mob of sadistic perverted Islamic State barbarians. When their insane demonic rage had been depleted for the moment, and their victims lay badly injured and near death, they cut the heads off seven of them. The eighth man was allowed to escape to throw fear into the missionaries. One cannot help asking the question: What kind of a religious belief system condones such behavior? What a contrast is shown by the love of Jesus Christ, who taught his followers to go further than just loving their friends, but loving their enemy as well! This godly love has such an effect on people who have never heard of such a love, that multitudes are committing themselves to the Lordship of this God who loves them so deeply. These converts may not be recorded in the religious statistics of the day, but those out in the missionary field know of the tremendous miracle unfolding by personal experience…and, God has their names recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life!
In the last two updates you will have read of the explosion outside of Pastor R*****’s tent in which three missionaries were killed and R***** was badly injured by shrapnel and within days was showing signs of gangrene. I won’t retell the story, but because of what happened in that location, the missionaries working under R*****’s guidance moved him to another tent. As I was talking with him on the phone Friday morning (Pacific Time Zone), I could actually hear as an enormous amount of automatic gunfire erupted very near his tent. While the gunfire was going on, I could hear numerous larger explosions as well. These were explosions from heavier weaponry including mortars and other explosive devices. The gunfire was so loud it was very difficult to hear my friend on the phone. We ended the conversation sooner than we would normally have done so and I prayed with Pastor R***** and for all of the HOB missionaries, that God would grant them courage, strength, wisdom, power from on High, and of course protection. As we were praying, I could hear as several missionaries came to the tent to get R***** moved to a safer location. It was at this point that I sent out the emergency prayer e-mail. I did not hear the rest of the story until Saturday morning when I received my next call.
Right after the HOB missionaries moved Pastor R***** to the new location, seventeen people were killed near the tent. R*****’s tent was totally destroyed…again, but the Lord spared him once again! Among the dead (who were all believers), were eight women, five men, and four children. It is always incredibly sad to hear these kinds of stories. I know that many people don’t like reading reports such as these, including most pastors but the world needs to know what is happening in other places on the globe–especially to those who are our brethren. We MUST care! We must also pray…not just casually say we will pray, but really do so! God answers prayer, but He does not answer a good intention that is not followed through on.
Two special requests were passed on to me with this last phone call. One had to do with the month of Ramadan that comes up within two weeks. For those who are not aware of what this is, one month of the year is set aside in Islam for fasting and prayer. The HOB missionaries have found this to be a very fruitful month when ministering to the Muslim people. As I have explained before, many of these people really are fasting and praying, and even though they are praying to Allah, Jehovah God interrupts their prayers and thousands of Muslim people have had Jesus Himself appear to them. Since I have been involved with HOB and their missionary work, every Ramadan has seen many thousands of Muslim people come to a knowledge of who the real GOD is, and who the true Messiah is. It makes it much easier to minister to these people if the missionary is able to open an Arabic translation of the Scriptures before them and actually show them what God’s Word says. It is also so important to be able to give Bibles to each family group. Because of this, HOB has by faith ordered 5,000 Bibles. The print shop is working day and night to get them completed in time. Then, they will need the finances to pick them up so that they can be strategically distributed. What if this were the last Ramadan before the beginning of the “Great and Terrible Day of the LORD”, the last seven years of the Great Tribulation?
The other need is wheat for the refugees to make bread. Two full shipping containers have been made available. They cost $5,000 each but will keep a whole lot of people alive for a while longer. This gives the missionaries time to share the love of God with them. Because of the generosity of the HOB missionaries, the door is usually open to share things that would otherwise be rejected. The Lord has given HOB good contacts and the ability to arrange for delivery of the wheat by truck to the sites.
I know that all people have other plans for their money, including how to invest it for their future. But, if we can remember that everything we have is on loan from God to begin with, it gives us a different perspective on things. There is not greater investment than helping these courageous missionaries get the Word of life to the hundreds of thousands that are dying or facing death! I am not a proponent of the prosperity gospel, and so will not be fool enough to tell you that there will be a hundred-fold return. I will however say that God keeps record of our obedience Him and the sacrifice that often represents. The return may come in some ways in this life, but certainly has an eternal reward that we cannot even fathom! Also, if everything were reversed, we would be so grateful for others that we have never met responding to the prompting of the Lord. This is part of God’s command to love others as ourselves.
I believe that the whole world, including America, is on the very edge of major events. Christians all over the world will need to walk the faith walk as a reality, not just a concept of our faith. The Israelites spent forty years out in the desert and had no means of taking care of themselves. How did they survive? GOD! He watered them, He fed them, He protected them, and as He led them, He also had to discipline them. Is it any different for us? Most of us in the West are not trusting God for much of anything because we have been able to supply for ourselves. Whether you believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, the Mid-Trib Rapture, the Post-Trib Rapture, or the Pre-Wrath tribulation, we will to one extent or another have to learn to live by faith, because we will have no other options. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in using wisdom and having some supply stocks on hand to get us through difficult times, but there is a limit to how long one can survive without actually living totally by faith in the God who has promised to care for us. When there is major war, cataclysm, rioting, plague, famine, pestilence and disease, all of our well laid plans will likely fall way short. We had better trust God for our sustenance and protection rather than use Him as the escape route when our own efforts have failed!
Missionaries in many places are having to live totally by faith today. They have no idea where their next meal is coming from–or even if there will be one. God has, however, promised not to ever leave us or forsake us! The wonderful 27th Psalm comes to mind:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.
One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; I the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek. Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not leave me nor forsake me O God of my salvation. When my father and mother forsake me, the the LORD will take care of me.
Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! (Psalm 27, NKJV)
I am convinced of this: Whatever we are going to do in the Name of the LORD, whom we say is our Lord and Master, we need to do it NOW! I am saying this because I am an avid student of prophecy and I know our time has about run out. As God said in Noah’s time: “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever…” (Genesis 6:3) The door of the ark is about to close. If we care about eternity; if we really care about the Kingdom of God; if we really intend to have our lives be an example of the greatest commandment that Jesus gave, we had better do it today. Way too many Christians fail to put their faith to work while the going is relatively easy so that when times become more difficult, their faith will be strong and He will be their All in All, their Sufficiency!
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