When I received my call from the Middle East on Friday as usual, I couldn’t help but wonder what would be shared that would be new–not that I doubted God in any way, but because I’ve heard some of the most extraordinary things over the last 26 months since my wife and I became involved with this project. So I couldn’t help wondering what God may have done since last week! I was really blessed and encouraged by the wonderful things I heard this week! I would like to share these things with you but I do want to share a passage of Scripture out of the Old Testament with you before I get into the reports that I received from HOB this week.
In 1 Kings we have a story in the life of Elijah the prophet which is an account showing that God is able to do anything He decides to do–at any time, no matter what the physical circumstance might happen to be. God has no obstacles when He sovereignly decides to do something. The story has to do with a widow in Zarephath who, with her son, was facing death because of the famine that had gripped, not only Israel, but also the surrounding areas. She was getting ready to prepare her last meal for herself and her son when Elijah approached her and had the audacity to ask her to prepare something for him to eat first! Imagine this for yourself. Would you do it? Many of us might tell the prophet to take care of himself! Yet, how did this widow respond? Here is how the story is told in the Old Testament:
Then the word of the Lord came to him (Elijah): go to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food. So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink? As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
As surely as the Lord your God lives, she replied, I don’t have any bread–only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it–and die.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the ;Lord gives rain on the land.’ She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”
Can you imagine being in the place of Elijah and asking this widow what God told him to ask her? Yet, God had a very great purpose! This brings me to this week’s “House Of Blessing” update.
Pastor R**** called me on Friday as he usually does. He of course had good news as well as bad news. I found out that several of the volunteer missionaries in Iraq were killed this last week, as well as several in Syria. It always breaks my heart to hear this even though I don’t know these folks personally. Because my relationship with R**** has gotten so close these last two years, I feel the death of every one of these precious folks. God has made us all family. One cannot hear about the brutal murder of family without grieving! But, thank God, those that have been martyred have been ushered into the Presence of Jesus Himself. All pain is gone! All grief, worry, lack, sickness, all pain; everything that has to do with the curse of sin on this planet is gone from them! Hallelujah! We will all join them very soon!
There were also miracles that happened this last week, the details of which may bring you some joy. As I have shared before, there was an great need for $50,000 in order to make a half payment on the next 7000 Bibles which God had impressed on R**** to order. Believing for this amount of money was a stretch for many people. HOB had never ordered this many at one time before, yet this is what God had said! These Bibles needed to be ordered in time to print them before the start of Ramadan on June 27th. Was God able to pull such a miracle off? Were we all able to trust God to meet this great of a need? Here is what happened:
A week or two ago, a sheikh that had become a believer in the Messiah Jesus, had sold some acreage and over a dozen cows in order to raise money for the needed Bibles. He had been able to raise $20,000. He decided to keep just one of the cows, but really didn’t know why. As he went out as usual to milk this cow, he began to notice that she was always full of milk, no matter how often he went out to milk her. He soon found out that she was producing 5-6 times the normal amount of milk that she used to! So, he was able to take all these many gallons of milk to the widows so that they could make butter, cheese, etc. If one were not aware, they would miss the wonderful miracle that God was providing in very desperate times for these folks who had absolutely nothing. But, they did notice! And God was continuing to multiply the output of this one cow to meet the needs of a great many people! What a God we serve! It’s not much different than the miracle recorded in the Scripture above!
But, there was another miracle of provision that happened this last week. Many of you will remember the story of Nabil and his wife (Feb. 25 & 28 update)–who became a widow when her husband a former head sheikh Nabil was martyred. She had a dream one night about Nabil, her dead husband, appearing to her and telling her that she needed to go to the corner of their house nearest a tree that was just outside of the house. She was to dig into the ground at the corner of the house about half a meter deep and look for something. She didn’t pay attention to the dream, thinking it meant nothing. But, then she dreamed the same thing a second time…and then again a third night. After dreaming this three times in a row, she prayed and asked God if there was anything to the three dreams and what she should do! The Lord urged her to do what the dream said. So, she got several other widows to help her dig up the hard ground down half a meter as she had been instructed. When she did, she found a jar buried in the ground. When she pulled the jar out of the ground, she found gold sealed inside the jar. When she took it to a jeweler, she found that there was the equivalent of 600 grams of pure gold in the jar (about 21 ounces)! The value of it was about $25,000, but the jeweler could only offer her $20,000 on the spot. The Lord told her to take the price that was offered.
When the widows discussed the money that was received, they unanimously agreed that it needed to go for the purchase of Bibles. We might not realize the sacrifice that these women made as they were all living day to day, trusting the Lord to provide their needs–not for the next year or two, but for each and every day that they were living! Their gift to the Kingdom of God was no less than the widow that Jesus pointed out in Mark 12:42. As Jesus said about the widow in the Temple, these widows had given everything, and so had given more than anyone else! Believe me! I had to think through this again and again. We have been faithful as God has asked of us, but we have never given everything! To this point, God has not asked this of us, but if He did, how many of us would be willing to do so? It’s something to think about.
These widows had only one thing in mind…souls! The Bibles were needed for all the brand new believers that will be reached during Ramadan this year! Who knows? This may be the last Ramadan harvest before the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords calls His own home! I believe that God is going to reach a huge number of Muslim people this year with the Gospel of His love. They are going to find out who the REAL Messiah is in 2014! There will be tens of thousands reached, and this is just through the ministry of House of Blessing. There are countless other ministries doing exactly the same thing! I believe that once that last person is reached who is recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, who is to be reached before the Rapture of the Church, we are going to be called HOME. I also believe that there are a huge multitude who will be reached after the Rapture as well. The Bible shows this to be true.
So, as God worked it out, the first half of the need has been met. $50,000 needed to come in for the down-payment on the order of Bibles. $20,000 came in from the sale of the sheikh’s land and cows, $10,000 came from here in the States, and another $20,000 from the jar of gold that God had Nabil bury in the ground years ago–before he even became a believer!!! Then there is the $1,000 gift that came in as seed money from an anonymous source last week. That money will prove to be seed money for the balance that will come due when the Bibles have been printed.
Folks, we serve a very great GOD! Whatever we intend to do in His Name before we stand before Him, we need to do it today. Time has run out and the end of the Age is within sight now.
The Apostle Paul put it this way:
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. they do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly, I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-27)
Shalom and God bless you all and Keep Looking Upward!
We are going HOME soon!