After three weeks of not receiving any new information from the House of Blessing missionaries, it was a welcome relief to hear Pastor R’s gravely voice on the phone once again. Although notably tired, he sounded like the inspired man who has been sharing news with me from the front lines of the war for men’s souls in the Middle East for more than five years now. I am aware that he is struggling with some physical issues, but he refuses to complain about anything. I think back to many calls I have received after attackers left him for dead, but in spite of the devil’s best efforts to kill him, God planned differently. It is always inspiring to hear him give honor and glory to our Lord rather than complain. I am reminded of a passage in the Book of Acts:
Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. Acts 14:19-20
As is always the case, the information I received from Pastor R this week had both good and bad news. Readers of this blog are familiar with the ongoing story of the three mosques that have become three Christian churches in the Damascus area. After so many souls had been reached through evangelism during the month of Ramadan this year, each church provided intensive teaching and training for about 500 people in each building. The three main teachers, Omar, Nader, and Same usually got together with some others afterward to discuss how the teaching went. Last week, as these three men along with some others gathered together after the teaching time, three civilian men with machine guns loudly interrupted their gathering. The leader of the three, a man named Muhammad, asked for Same, and Same stood up. Then he asked for Omar and he also stood up. He then asked for Nader, who also joined the other two men standing. As all three stood, Muhammad shot Omar and Same in the legs. Nader was hit in the chest. The bullet went through Nadar’s heart and he instantly entered eternity. An old man that was part of the House of Blessing missionary group called the shooter by name, saying, “Muhammad! Yes, Muhammad, I know who you are. You should not have attacked these men! They are men of God and have brought us the love and peace of God. You will be punished for attacking them!” As the old man finished, Muhammad turned his gun on his two cohorts and shot them dead. Then, before anyone could do anything, he killed himself. Everything happened so fast there was no time to react.
Mufiedah was immediately contacted about the injuries that Omar and Same sustained. One of her trained widows who was the closest to their location, came to minister to them. Both of these men had serious injuries but the bullets have been removed and the wounds cauterized as the widows have been doing for so many others. The men were in great pain after being treated, as there was no anesthesia to use, and they passed out for about three hours. They are currently going through the process of healing. As Same and Omar are able, they will go back to their task of teaching the new believers. At this time, however, the teaching in these three locations has stopped. This is where we, as supporting believers, need to intercede in prayer.
Fatwa, Mufiedah and others of the Widow Sisterhood have continued treating the war wounded, as they have been doing for so long now. Between them, they treated 29 more who needed bullets or shrapnel removed, wounds cleansed and cauterized with the mixture they have been using. Each of these were also led to the feet of the Messiah and prayed the sinner’s prayer. They have become part of the Christian Church there in the Middle East.
Since the last Mideast Update, Pastor R’s specially trained 12 men have been able to reach 210 more that wanted to become part of the Kingdom of God. Sisters Hafezah and Ferial were able to serve communion to about 300, and Fatimah in the Fallujah area, served another 420. Of course, as is always the case, there are many hundreds meeting in smaller groups for communion all over the Middle East who are never officially counted. The underground Church there is much larger than anyone has any idea of!
Also in the Fallujah area, Adel and the Christian community in that area were able to bring another 150 souls into the Kingdom of God. Sadly, at least 20 of the new believers lost their lives for their faith during the same time.
Akram and Mustafa, who have been evangelizing in and around Mosul for many months now, say that the needs are still enormous there. There are still bodies scattered everywhere and the missionaries were able to bury at least 190 more using a rented tractor. As shared in previous updates, many House of Blessing missionaries lost their lives in the long battle for Mosul. Many of them were among the unrecognizable corpses needing to be buried.
Since the last update, at least 500 more souls were reached with the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The death toll in Mosul during and after the siege has been very high. Many thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives. But, because of the faithfulness of the missionaries, and the power of the Lord sustaining them through the worst of times, the harvest of souls has been great.
The loss of innocent lives in other locations has been just as tragic as in the Mosul area. While writing this update, I received another call from Pastor R, telling me that HOB missionaries are also in the middle of the battle for Tal Afar, Iraq. This is another location that has been under ISIS control. The coalition under US leadership is about 70 kilometers west of Mosul. As is always the case, the loss of civilian life is great. ISIS militants use innocents as human shields. In order to kill the militants, innocents always die and almost always first, and this is often after they have endured torture and brutality at the hands of these demon-possessed warriors of hell.
Another of the major offensives in process as I write this update is in Raqqa, Syria. ISIS had claimed this city as the supposed capital of their caliphate. Raqqa is a large city, and taking this city out of the hands of ISIS is proving to be very costly, both in infrastructure destruction, as well as in human life. The most tragic loss is the children…always the children. Destruction of our children is the prize for Satan. He hates the human race. He hates the ability God has built into humanity to reproduce by bearing children, born in the image of God. He hates this with a hatred we cannot comprehend.
One of the stories in the latest updates had to do with Sister Sarah. You will remember that she experienced an astounding intervention of God that spared her and well over 200 people that gathered in a large bombed out building to hear her testimony of the love of God and the demonstration of His power in her life. The Holy Spirit also moved among the gathered people in power by performing a great many very visible miracles. After they were spared by the obvious hand of God, another 400 souls were added to the Kingdom of God. Now, there is more of the story to tell from Syria.
The evangelism that began through Sarah with the backup of Pastor R, has seen over 2,000 healings since the collapse of the building they had been gathered in about three weeks ago. The ministry to the multitude of people has had to be moved to a better location than directly in the war zone where it all started. Sarah now has a confirmed list of about 1,500 people that want to receive teaching from House of Blessing missionaries. What a miracle this has become…just like in and around Damascus through the ministry of Omar, Same, and Nader.
Arrangements have now been made for 25 separate locations where 60 new believers will gather in each to receive the intensive teaching and training through the House of Blessing School of Ministry. Pastor R and the HOB leadership have put together a group of 25 teachers and about 48-50 helpers who will take each class through their intensive training sessions. At the time I received the details for this update, Pastor R had already visited all of the locations and prayed over thousands of people. There is great excitement among the family of believers as they look forward to what the Lord has in store for each of them. As each of these new believers completes their course, they will be added to the evangelism team of missionaries. These new believers will have done more than just pray the sinner’s prayer and been baptized in water as the Scriptures teach us, but each will also have followed through in their pursuit of the Lord by being baptized with the Holy Spirit of God. Then, as is promised in the Book of Acts, each will be endued with power from on high. Here is what God has promised:
…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8
When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39
This is exactly what is happening in the Middle East today through the ministry of the HOB missionaries.
In conclusion to this Mideast Update for August 22, 2017, I would like to put out a special request, first of all for earnest prayer, and then for financial support for the HOB missionaries. I always do so at the end of the updates, but I have several reasons for making it even more of a special request at this time:
- The annual Islamic Hajj comes at the end of this month, August 30-September 4, 2017
- The annual Muslim “Festival of the Sacrifice”, called “Eid Al-Adha” will be on August 31 and September 1, 2017
(I will share details of the meaning of the Hajj and the Eid al-Adha in a separate article.)
- Breakout of a long threatened catastrophic regional Mideast war, possibly the “Psalm 83 War”, or “Obadiah’s War”, now on the very verge of happening…a war that will bring the total annihilation of the city of Damascus, Syria and the entire surrounding area.
- The unfolding of the Ezekiel 38-39 war, called the “Gog & Magog” war…which I believe will be World War 3.
- The imminent End of the Age, End of the Days of the Gentiles, and the beginning of “The Day of the Lord”, also known as The Apostle John’s “Apocalypse” which is found in the Book of Revelation
I am not sensationalizing the day and time we find ourselves in. I don’t need to! The Lord has given us many events, signs, and fulfilled prophecies to watch for. This is the first time in the history of the Church when of the signs Jesus and the prophets warned us about are all coming together at the same time. It is our responsibility as Bible believing followers of our Master to recognize these signs and the season we are in. It was not a suggestion of our Lord to watch for these things and recognize them. It was a command! Yet scoffers abound as was foretold, sadly, even in most churches. You and I are intended to recognize the times and seasons and prepare for the coming of the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords. Most in today’s churches are asleep, corrupted, deceived, or just plain spiritually DEAD! I am convinced that I am writing to those that are not!
I know this sounds offensive to many. But time has run out and time to worry about offending someone is over. Those who catch the message will be listening intently to the leading of the Spirit of God and will finish their course as God has laid it out. Our legacy is still being written, but not for long now. We, as God’s people, are represented in the Parable of the Talents. How have we each fulfilled the Lord’s command to make the most of what He has given us? Are all of our efforts consumed upon our own personal wants and wishes? Are we so tied into this world and its system that God has no say over what we think is “ours”, be it our talents, our goals, our dreams for the future, or even the finances God has blessed us with–which are actually just on loan? After all, He even provides the air we breathe!
The special Muslim days coming up are once again a chance for a great harvest of souls to be brought into the Kingdom of God. God has multiplied the harvest each and every time HOB has gone out and made themselves available during these times. God has interrupted the pagan festivals and false worship every single year, and I am convinced that this may prove to be the greatest harvest of all, this year in 2017. God is not willing that any perish and He will go all out to reach every single person that will choose to listen to the voice of His Spirit. The end of this dispensation of time is now imminent and the “grace” that has been experienced by the world for the last 2,000 years is about to be closed. The last seven years of man’s attempt to run the planet without Him are about to be ushered in.
God has angels assigned to record everything about our lives. The book of Malachi speaks of the Book of Remembrance. The record of our last few days upon this earth is now being written. What would you like to have written in that book? You and I still have an opportunity to finish well. Believe me, I think about this a lot these days!
As one can imagine, the needs on the mission field are enormous. Tens of thousands of new believers still do not have Bibles. Other basic essentials hardly exist in many places…quite often in the very places where God has put the HOB missionaries to minister. I do not want to miss the call of God to help those in ministry that have absolutely nothing…not even a Bible. This is mentioned again as a word of encouragement that anything you can share financially really and truly does have eternal impact. And HOB’s gratitude. For any gifts to help HOB, please use the PayPal button provided. All funds are used in their entirety for missions work. House of Blessing has no paid staff. All serve purely by faith.
Forever in His Service,