I just got a call this morning from our friend R*, pastor and founder of House Of Blessing, Jerusalem, Israel. The first thing he had to tell me was thank you for the funds that were provided within the last couple weeks. I want to add a special thank you to my own church home, Desert Song Community Church which announced on Palm Sunday that a special offering would be taken for House Of Blessing on Easter. I was amazed at the generosity people showed to a ministry so far from here.
I also want to give a great big thank you to “Amazing Grace Christian Fellowship” which had taken a special offering without my knowledge until afterwards. I was also given the privilege of telling a little of what this ministry does and a handful of the stories I’ve now heard throughout this last year. I am very grateful to both churches for taking the chance on supporting a ministry that does not fall under standard western style corporate organization. “House Of Blessing” is operating totally underground, but is known for what they do and who they really are by many in Jerusalem, as well as many other cities and towns.
I will have to admit right up front this evening as I write this update that I’m not quite sure how to do the story of the last two weeks justice. I was on the freeway when I got the call and due to my extreme concern this past week pulled over right away to take the call rather than asking R* to call me back when I get home.
The first thing he told me was that he was very grateful for the funds made available as they were able to pay for and pick up 750 Bibles and then get them to the border of Syria and get them distributed to as many as possible. There are such a huge amount of people wanting Bibles that it seems impossible to meet the need.
I found out that R* was calling me from the tent that Miriam had lived in before being killed, due to severe injuries he just received. I also found that Miriam had not been killed in her tent as I had thought, but rather while she was ministering to a group of people. She was attacked while sharing the love of God with some people and badly slashed up with knives by five Muslim men and left to bleed to death. This explains how she was found by one of the pastors of H.O.B. before she had expired. As it turns out, Miriam’s death was a result of an ambush that had been planned to catch R* and kill him. Miriam was killed instead. As it turns out, R* and two other men brutally beaten were staying in the tent that Miriam bought when she sold her little house in order to purchase more Bibles for the many refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria.
There are many volunteer missionaries that R* has trained and raised up to be evangelists to the Muslim people, now in at least three of the surrounding nations from Israel. Five more of these were brutally murdered for sharing the Gospel of the love of God, and the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The forces of hell have not been able to get rid of them as fast as they multiply.
Different ones were ministering in different areas, including R* and two other men. As R* and his two companions were preaching and teaching, they were attacked by a group of ten Muslim extremists who proceeded to beat them with clubs and stone them to death—slowly, for greatest effect. From what I learned, not one inch of these men’s bodies were not beaten or stoned. The only thing that saved their lives was the fact that a larger group of extremists came into the area and shot some people to death right in front of where they were and the ten that had intended to kill them ran for their own lives. They then either managed to crawl away or were carried or drug out of the fray by friends. I susect they looked like they were nearly dead by that time.
I could not help but be thankful once more that the God that Anne and I love so much and have served for many years gave us the opportunity to become a small part of this great underground movement which has now reached many tens of thousands of the lost in at least three predominately Muslim nations, as well as some orthodox Jewish people at the very beginning of this last year’s story.
One thing I have begun praying is that the ten who had intended to kill R* and his companions will not be able to sleep a single full night until they decide to find out what this message was all about that these men were teaching when they attacked them. We have seen this happen before within this last year already. God is right in the middle of all that is happening. His power is obvious and I believe that He will raise all three of these men back on their feet so that they can get back out there where they want to be—more than life itself! I was honored to be able to pray for all three men today, even though the other two couldn’t understand my language. I’m sure that R* interpreted after we got off the phone.
My prayer for us here in the western world is that we gain such a heart for what is happening in a part of the world that is 180 degrees from where we are at–politically, socially, and religiously, that we can have some affect in what is happening there. I am asking anyone at all who knows how to pray, that God will continue to intervene in this underground ministry. God has done amazing things in the last year and He’s not finished! Tens of thousands are being reached. Many tens of thousands are also dying, and there are many, many more that will die in the months ahead.
I pray that those of us who have had our socks blessed off will realize that this world we live in is nearly finished. Time HAS RUN OUT! Syria is going to fall, and I believe it will fall this year, 2013. There is much more that is happening in the Mideast that will show us that those of us in the free world are not blessed as we are, just to consume everything upon ourselves. I really don’t want to overwhelm anyone with the drive I have to help this ministry, but if God speaks to you about this, you really don’t want to put God off. God’s heart is for the people—even the killers!! Isn’t that the type of people Jesus ministered to Himself while on earth? Why do we think that God has blessed us here in the western world as much as He has—because we are better than everyone else? Hardly!!
When I was talking with R*, he said that he could not have bad feelings toward these men that had intended to kill him because they had not seen the Light yet! That reminds me of what Jesus said while on the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing!!” Could you and I love like that?? I pray so because we don’t have any guarantee that the free world will not be taken down and Christians will have to stand up for their beliefs here as well, maybe at the cost of death! Our freedoms have actually been eroding more than most want to recognize! America is not the same America as a few years ago…
Just before going to bed last night, I could not help but think of the story of the Apostle Paul when he was stoned and left for dead. He crawled out from under the rocks the next day and went back into the very city in order to preach to the same people that stoned him the day before! This is little different from what is happening with R* right now.
There are a couple Scriptures that come to mind when I think of the Christian life we’ve been called to live. Here is one found in 1 Peter 4:12-19:
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the Name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that Name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
I also thought of another passage found in 1 John 2:13-17:
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and the desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
I don’t want to go into this very far in this update I just received from Jerusalem—or rather straight out of Syria, but I know that I couldn’t sleep well last night (Friday). When I did, I kept finding myself in strong dreams, actually standing in the room with this man who has become such a friend to Anne and I. I have had to come to the conclusion that I would be a fool to actually go into Syria with him, as he has offered to me; not because of any fear—and I can say that honestly, but because as an obvious white man, an American at that, I would only put everyone around me in greater jeopardy than they are already in. They would naturally try and protect me, but I would be too obvious of a target. So how can I stand with him and those wonderful people that work with him? By listening carefully when the Spirit of God says I should pray for him fervently. If God wakes me up to pray, it’s likely for a very good reason—and I have done this. God also makes the needs known to the Body of Christ on this side of the world that has been blessed with a life of freedom and comfort—even the poorest of us in comparison to the rest of the world. We all have so much!
God is not a socialist, but He does give to many—not so that we consume it all on ourselves, but that we help in areas that help is needed. And…as uncomfortable as it is for many, MOST of the work of reaching the lost in the worst places in the world is by people just like R* and through “House of Blessing” that he founded–which is not part of a particular denomination or organizational mechanism. God pulled him out of a life of unbelief and has now been ministering to people since 1985 and has come close to death many times. I want to help him, and will continue to do so. What anyone else does is not any of my business; it’s God’s business, but if God speaks to you, don’t ignore Him. These are living souls which are at stake and the Bibles or even just one Bible will reach someone that would lose their soul for eternity without the blessing you can provide them.
So, this is the extent of my plea. Like I’ve said so many times, time has run out and we are running between third base and home plate now. I used to play baseball and I was fast. I loved that scramble when I stole home from third base! That is where we are now at in this age. Whatever we are going to do that will bring true honor to the KING of Kings, it needs to be quickly. For that matter, even if we were not at the very end of the age, how many of us has a guarantee of tomorrow? NONE. When it is our time, we will be called to give account. It’s easy to think through in a way, because we just need to ask ourselves the question, “What would Jesus do?” It becomes quite simple when re-reading the Gospels.
Thank you once again—everyone! Please join me in prayer for the complete healing of this man and the two who were with him. Giving their names on a blog like this would be foolish as it would greatly endanger them, and I won’t do it.
Address for donations:
H.O.B. CITY OF JESUS MINISTRY ; 3206 SW 45th Street; Redmond, OR 97756
KEEP LOOKING UP!