For the nine+ years I’ve written the Mideast Updates for the House of Blessing, more often than not have I had to include both painful things to share as well as the good. Today, I will start with what is painful and then finish the update with the good. I will first share a scripture that I have included in many updates.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15
A few days ago as Omar, Sami, Mussa, and their team of missionaries were ministering to a large group of people, Omar noticed two men laying on the ground with machine guns. What was really strange was that they were in tears! As Omar walked up to ask what was wrong, one of them looked up at him and asked, “Are you Omar?” When Omar answered and confirmed who he was, the man said, “I have been watching you and I can see that you are doing good things for the people. I and my man here were sent to kill you, but I can’t do it, nor do I want to! You are an innocent man and I can see that you are a good man. I refuse to kill you but we are guilty of having done such horrible things to people, you should take our guns and kill us! Please, kill us now! No one can forgive us for all we have done.” As he said this, he handed Omar both machine guns and prepared to be shot dead. Omar however took the machine guns, unloaded them, and threw them to the side on the ground. Omar then told him, “We do not kill people. We help them to find everlasting forgiveness through the only One that has the power to do so. That is Jesus Christ. Once someone recognizes Him for who He really is and repents of their sins, Jesus forgives all their sins and helps them to build a new life.”
Then, as Omar gave the men an opportunity to unburden their souls by confessing the things they had done, they admitted to having been part of the group of Hezbollah militants who had not only severely beaten Pastor R, Rahdi, and Youssef, but had also been in the group when Rahdi and Youssef were shot to death—although they themselves had not struck the blows or used their guns on them. Then, they admitted to also having been there when Nevean and Sherin had been abducted along with all five little children. It was at this point that Omar asked what had become of the two young widows and their children. The men sobbed as they said that the women were taken and viciously raped repeatedly by the militants. After the women had been abused unmercifully, they were both killed. A large grave was then dug into which the women were thrown. The five children were then thrown in with their mothers and buried alive. In between sobs the men insisted they had nothing to do with any of what had happened. When they saw what was going to happen they tried to intervene but to no avail.
Then the men (whose names are Mustafa and Ali) again asked Omar to please just shoot them. Mustafa said he didn’t think it was possible for even him to forgive someone who was guilty of the despicable things they have both done. Among those they had brutalized and murdered were a number of those belonging to the House of Blessing community of believers. It was then that the Holy Spirit came over them all and they all began to cry. After a few minutes, Omar responded to Mustafa and Ali and said that if they truly confessed their sins and repented, while making the decision to walk away from their old life into the new life promised by God, the Blood of Jesus was more than enough to cleanse them of every stain of sin. This is a promise of God in the Bible. And, Omar promised that HOB would help see to it they are properly discipled and trained in their new Christian walk with God.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
When Mustafa and Ali asked what the next step was, Omar said that he would like to baptize them and so that is what they did.
During their time of confessing and praying the sinner’s prayer, Mustafa said he and Ali knew where the women and their children had been buried. He said they had been buried in the same place where they had been abused and murdered and the location was not far away. Omar then suggested they contact both of the murdered women’s fathers and take them to where they had been buried. The fathers happened not to be very far away at this time.
When they gathered at the gravesite the question was asked if the fathers would want the grave opened as proof that their daughters and grandchildren were in fact there but the fathers did not want to open the grave. The grief for the fathers was already nearly unbearable. They decided just to put a marker on the grave and leave it undisturbed.
When the men got back to the HOB community, they spent most of the next three days or so crying their eyes out for what all had transpired. It did not take long after they got back for the story to get out among the HOB believers in the area and gradually believers, many of whom had been harmed or lost loved ones or friends because of Mustafa and Ali, came to see them. They prayed together and verbally forgave them for the wrongs done and confirmed their acceptance into their family of believers.
This is a tragic story but, like so many others passed on to you through these updates over the past years, it had a positive ending. Mustafa and Ali had been brutish Hezbollah terrorists who were guilty of many unspeakable atrocities–the type of savagery that cannot be unseen or forgotten. Yet, in light of eternity, and because of the potency of the Blood of Jesus, forgiveness and new life is possible. It is tragic that these things had to come about beginning with Pastor R, Radhi, and Youssef, and then their two wives and five young children. It is something that many of us cannot imagine and find it hard to believe that such forgiveness exists, but through Christ it does. Saul of Tarsus was guilty of being responsible for the torture and murder of innocent Christian men, women, and children before he came face to face with Jesus, the Messiah. He repented and in time became Paul the Apostle. Only God can do such a thing!
Now, on to the next miracle…
In the previous Mideast Update I shared the story of the two pregnant women who had been found lying dead on the ground. The account I received told a very short version of how both women were raised from the dead in front of a number of witnesses. One detail that I did not have, nor did I think to ask was, what had become of the unborn babies. Many of you had wondered the same. In Pastor R’s phone call to me, he answered that question before I even had a chance to ask it.
Pastor R said that one of the women was at full term and the other at seven months. Mufiedah reported to Pastor R that both women were delivered of their babies, one right after the other. Both had little boys and both moms and babies are doing well. What a miracle! If the Lord had not spoken to Mufiedah to anoint them with oil and pray for them, both women would have been buried within minutes. Sister Mufiedah, who knows what she is doing, had checked their vitals before making arrangements to take them to the cave for burial. Concerning the unborn babies, from the little that I know, there is a slight chance of the unborn baby to survive for a little while after the mother has died if they are over 24 weeks along. A cesarean section is required however. In this case the mothers were brought back to life and could participate in a delivery through the process of normal labor. Praise God for His timing in directing Mufiedah to the women when He did! What an awesome miracle!
Because this update has been a bit long, I will just briefly mention that the work of evangelism continues full speed. So it is with the teaching and training classes. Pastor R mentioned that the communion services are continuing as they have as well. All of the different missionary groups are distributing food, Bibles, and the tea mixture that has been so effective against the Covid virus, the flu, and many other ailments. God’s arm is not short!
Pastor R is still in the hospital but is being allowed to have many visitors. He is also being allowed to set up a makeshift office of sorts so that he can meet with HOB leaders for prayer and decision making. Many also come in for special prayer. The two nurses reached with the Gospel continue being of great assistance to him as well. He also has men who watch over him 24 hours of the day for his safety. And, we know that God has His angels watching over him as well!
Please continue to keep Pastor R and the entire House of Blessing community in your prayers. It is not an easy road they are traveling. There is much chaos in the middle east and some areas are totally lawless and out of control. Also, I am told as summer is coming on strong, the majority of Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria are without electricity. And a major middle east war is imminent. The signs are all there. God is however in control of all things and nothing catches Him by surprise. All will unfold when and how He has decreed it. So we watch, pray, and continue in the tasks God has called us all to.
Forever in His Service,