Over the past few days, I have had a number of people ask about how Pastor R is doing. As most know, he had endured a brutal attack in which two missionary companions were beaten to death in front of him. Pastor R was also savagely beaten, cut, and left to die a slow and painful death. I do not know the full extent of R’s injuries. I do know, however, that his beating was horrific…especially for a man who is already confined to a wheelchair due to a previous beating received for sharing Jesus. He had been left with the corpses of the two men who had been with him. His own physical condition was so grave he could not even call out for help. He was gradually bleeding out and could not move. His attackers intended for him to die a slow death.
It was about three days after the attack that I heard from Pastor R as it had taken that long before he could move his mouth enough to speak. At that time, his call sounded very much like a man who had resigned himself to die and he called to say he probably would not be able to talk with me again until I join him on the other side. God, however, had other plans, as He so often does. This, then, is what I have learned about the attack and Pastor R’s current condition:
Soon after his call to tell me of the attack, friends found a way to get Pastor R to a medical facility before he died. The hospital staff found an unconscious man that should not be alive, nor did they expect him to survive–even in the hands of medical professionals. His injuries were extreme and his blood loss had been catastrophic. He was immediately put into the intensive care unit and the word from the professionals was that the next 24 hours would tell if he would live or die. They needed to give him blood–lots of it, but still had to find blood of his specific type. (I later asked our friend, R, how much blood he had received and he was aware of 8 units of blood having been given him, but he knew that they also gave him blood while he was unconscious. For those that might not know, a human being has between 8-12 pints of blood in their body. A unit of blood is roughly the equivalent of a pint.)
Once Pastor R was stabilized, he went through a 3 ½ hour surgery where all of the 32 “holes” cut into his chest, stomach, back and legs which had become infected were reopened, cleaned out, medicated, and sutured. His head and face had been badly abused, so much so that his mouth needed corrective work in the hospital. His teeth had been partially knocked out. His lips were also badly cut up and will need to heal pretty much on their own. He also has numerous broken ribs.
When I spoke with R this last time, he again asked me to please thank the thousands of people all over the world who went to the Throne of Grace on his behalf. Several specific prayers were answered. First of all, God had sent someone to find him when he was dying. No treatment was available at first, but God was working out the details of what needed to happen next. It was God who arranged for him to be taken to a facility that could handle someone in his condition. Then, God did not allow the spark of life to go out in Pastor R, when under any other circumstance, he would have already been dead. Then, God directed the hands of the medical professionals so that his body could be brought back to a condition where healing could happen.
One thing that is not necessary for me to elaborate on, is that this incident had shaken our brother more than any of the many previous horrors he has gone through and he felt too weak to continue. But God was faithful and met him right where he was…and restored something that had been damaged within him, giving him a renewed will and determination to stay the course set before him. Any believer can be tempted to give up in the face of great trials, but God knows this and can revive any soul and spirit committed to Him.
There are many questions that we might ask. We can ask why God let this happen to a man with such a commitment to the Kingdom of God. But, God is sovereign and we will find out the answers when we meet Him face to face. God does not make mistakes, nor is He ever late in responding, and…He is never early. Everything is timed according to His sovereign knowledge and will. The things we don’t understand today will become abundantly clear later. Here is how it reads in 1 Peter 4:12-14,19:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified…Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
Another verse that I often turn to for comfort is found in Isaiah 26:3-4:
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.
I’ll have to admit, what has happened to our friend Pastor R this time has had me lost in thought, sometimes for hours. As I was running all these events through my mind, the LORD dropped a thought in my mind that I would like to share with you.
While I was speaking with Pastor R the other day, he mentioned that as best he knows so far, House of Blessing missionaries were able to reach somewhat over 5,000 souls for the Kingdom of God during this year’s Muslim month of Ramadan. That is 5,000 whose eternal destiny has been turned from an eternity out of the presence of God to an eternity living in His glorious kingdom! This is something to shout and praise God for! With that in mind, I was listening to a news broadcast the other day in which a source said that during this same month of Ramadan, jihadists bragged that they had managed to kill over 5,000 innocents!
Here is what struck me. This boast telling of 5,000 innocent men, women and children having been murdered was a braggery of having sent 5,000 people into eternity; 5,000 people who have been removed from the face of the earth, and for what purpose? To fulfill a satanic religious command found in the Qu’ran, or was it an excuse to fulfill a demonic blood-lust? Both!
It is a command straight from the bowels of hell to have innocent people murdered just because they do not hold the same religious belief. And…for those who have the twisted craving to maim and murder, it is a gift!
Then there are the 5,000+ that finally found eternal peace and forgiveness due to the death and resurrection of the God-man, Jesus Christ. These 5,000 will not be able to be silent about the joy they now have in their hearts! They will reach anywhere from 10-100 each, if not more! On one side, 5,000 had life stolen from them. On the other side, 5,000 finally found real life, and the 5,000 will become 50,000 or more! What a contrast! It reminds me of a Scripture where Jesus said this:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 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 10:7-11)
In closing, please keep praying for Pastor R. Healing will take time. Right now, his temperature is still not holding stable as it should. Also, pray earnestly for all the HOB missionaries and the multitude of new believers in the Middle East. Their lives are constantly on the line. Not a one of them knows if they will be coming home at the end of the day. It is our responsibility to pray for them and support them as God directs us. We are now playing out the “end game” prophetically. Jesus will be calling the “Bride” home very, very soon. What is it that you would like recorded on heaven’s record book for this short sojourn here on this fallen planet? What will we have done with all that has been “loaned” to us for this life? After all, everything really belongs to the One whom we serve.