My Middle East update this week covers a bit over one week. Much has happened in the last month, and the events keep unfolding rapidly. I received another call last Friday letting me know that Pastor R**** is still alive, and I purposely underline the fact! The last attack on his person was perpetrated by three men who viciously attacked R****, intending to beat him to death. These men, in fact, left him for dead. God had other plans…AGAIN! Each of us has an appointed time to die, and if it is not our time, it will not happen– especially if we are in the center of God’s plan!
As many of you know, Pastor R**** was found near death and unconscious. He was then quickly taken to Damascus, Syria, which was about ½ hour away. Hospital staff found that his skull had been cracked in the beating and he was facing a very long surgery. The doctors found infection having taken root inside his skull–not from this assassination attempt, but the attack just a couple weeks earlier. Without this surgery, Pastor R**** had no chance of survival. As most of you know, the doctors were able to revive him, gave him a couple units of blood, and injections for the pain and, before taking him into surgery, he was given 10 minutes to call me as he wanted to make contact just in case God chose to take him home this time.
I prayed with him quickly as the hospital staff waited. Both of us knew that the outcome did not depend on the staff, but only on God’s sovereign will. It was God’s will for R**** to make it. What none of you know is that, not only was he left for dead by the assassins, but three times during the 11 hour surgery, the surgery team thought they had lost him. As we know, God saw differently, and Pastor R**** was brought through the surgery in better shape than expected. He has fought with high fever and a fast heartbeat, but otherwise is recuperating.
Another fact that was not known was that there were hundreds of thousands of the last two year’s new believers that were crying, fasting, and praying for his survival. GOD answered their prayers–as well as many of us in America, Finland, and other nations where his friends are.
There is more to report about the last couple weeks. Some of you might remember the first Muslim mullah who was reached when this project had just begun two years ago. This man whom God had put in R****’s path at a street cafe, was reached with the love of God and received Yeshua HaMashiach as Savior right there in the street. When telling his congregation about his experience, he was beaten to death by several of the younger men, in front of the congregation of Muslim worshippers. The mosque that this had happened in belonged to the family of the mullah. Now, almost 2 years later an offer to buy the mosque for $90,000 was made. The mullah’s widow took the money, contacted the hospital where R**** is, and made arrangements to cover the hospital bill, then gave the rest of the money to House Of Blessing to pay for more Bibles.
A group of former sheikhs who are now followers of Jesus Christ managed to raise another $20,000. When all of the money was put together, the balance of the 5,000 Bibles which had already been printed was paid and the Bibles were distributed to the newly trained missionaries to give to new believers. Another 80 newly trained missionaries have left for Iraq in addition to the 100 that have already been sent. Some of the money was used to pay for the three buses needed to take the new missionaries the nine hour trip into western Iraq where Brother Omar is overseeing the missionary work.
The last time I spoke with Pastor R****, he was quite anxious to be out of the hospital and back to teaching. A more safe location has been found to do the training. After the last two attacks, it was decided to abandon the last location, which was about ½ hour from Damascus.
Please continue to pray for House of Blessing, and of course, Pastor R**** and the army of missionaries he has been training. The needs continue to be great, but our God is greater than the needs. Each of us just needs to be willing to fit into the part of God’s plan that He has put us into. It is a privilege to be part of such a great work that God is doing on this earth at this late hour–especially in the Middle East.
Another 7,000 Bibles have been ordered and are in the process of being printed. As the number of believers grows, the need for more Bibles continues to grow. But, as we’ve repeated often, we serve a very big God. He is the Lord of the Harvest, and He had this all planned long ago. HOB is working feverishly to reach as many as they possibly can before time has run out. We must do the same!
God Bless ,