My first phone call in 2019 from Pastor R in Syria was quite short but I was able to get a quick overview of the situation the House of Blessing missionaries are presently facing. As is with every winter, the missionaries who embed themselves within the refugee populations, go through the very difficult winter conditions along with the people they are trying to reach with the Good News of the Gospel.
For those of us in western nations, it is unfortunately easy to misjudge or underestimate the difficulties of tent life for these folks. These people are not generational nomads, like the Bedouins who we find in the Mideast. They come from normal cities, towns, and villages. My family and I, like many Americans, have enjoyed “camping” in the forests or in areas where there are rivers or lakes. We however always go camping during the times of the year when the weather is the best. The refugees, and the missionaries that have been called to minister to these people, don’t have that option. Whatever weather happens to come along, this is what they have to live with–if they can survive it. In climates where the yearly rainfall is minimal, it doesn’t take very much rain to cause great problems. The ground is usually hard and when it rains the water does not absorb into the ground quickly enough. It can even cause flash-floods. This is what people deal in the tent cities have to contend with. Many of these tent cities have tens of thousands of people living in very close proximity to each other. Whatever belongings they have are on the floors of their tents. At best, all they can do is make little trenches for the water to run off between the tents. Whatever gets soaked must be cleaned and somehow hung out to dry, if it hasn’t already been ruined. Then, it will sometimes snow before things have had a chance to dry.
Most of these families have been displaced by war, famine, and attacks from the many Islamic extremist militant factions using the Middle East as their killing fields. Their homes have been destroyed, or confiscated by terrorists. Most families are quite large and many children will be crammed together in these tents with their parents. Unfortunately, there are a great number of widows raising children all by themselves. The House of Blessing itself, as most regular readers will already be familiar with, has a large group of widows we long ago affectionately named, The Widow Sisterhood. All of these women have lost their husbands at one time or another, mostly during the so-called Arab Spring or because of their involvement with one of the armies or militias.
Most of these refugees have lost all hope. The vast majority are Muslim, either Sunni, Shiite, Alawite, Yaziti, or one of the other Muslim varieties of belief systems. Virtually all have seen how brutal and savage Islamic extremists can be, even to its own people. This is where the HOB missionaries come in. Most of today’s HOB missionaries have found Jesus Christ as Messiah, while Muslims. They have been led to the feet of the true Messiah, usually by a former Muslim. Some of them had even been guilty of some of the same brutality and barbarism most all have had to face at one time or another. Yet, when they were reached with the Good News of God’s plan of Salvation and His gift of eternal life through the forgiveness bought and paid for by the Blood of Jesus, they find hope–even when none can be seen in their immediate physical circumstances! As we have noted so often, many people have been reached within the last few moments of their life on this earth. Their recognition of the Messiah and the forgiveness they experience, even while dying, gives them great peace and joy in their soul!
The difficulties, tribulations, and persecutions have bound the HOB missionaries together into a tight, loving, community of believers. They not only love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, but also as the Messiah has taught all true believers; their neighbors as themselves. When over 600 tents came down and fell apart (like they did this last week again) because of the weather, the missionaries and volunteers are quick to jump in, working around the clock if necessary to help the people out. It doesn’t matter if they belong to the HOB community or not. This is what we read that the early Church did.
…with simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47
As the Lord provides the House of Blessing the needed funds, truck loads of wheat are purchased and distributed. Tens of thousands of people are blessed with at least a few meals with each load. It is the same story with mattresses, blankets, clothing, or medicines. It is the gift of a little food or a blanket that opens the door to hearing of the Gift of eternal forgiveness through the only One who can offer real forgiveness and life forever in the Kingdom of Heaven! Once these folks get hold of this kind of love and the forgiveness they experience through Jesus Christ, they refuse to ever let go of it, no matter the cost! From birth, all they have really known is a rigid religious system and hatred of all infidels–shrouded under the cover of a false religion. Once they have experienced the love of the One who created them, they find themselves wanting to pass this good news on to others who felt just as hopeless as they had been!
So far this update has been more of a recap of what has been the mission of the House of Blessing for the last seven years, at least as long as I’ve been privileged to tell their story. But, all that is written detailed above, is happening in real life at this very moment. There are not only many hundreds, many times thousands of tents being blown down during some storms and then rebuilt, but there are those who die due to exposure, sickness, or disease. The young and old are the most heavily affected. In one camp, there were 14 young children and 9 elderly who perished just in the last few days. Rather than immediately trying to get them buried, they are out desperately searching the surrounding wooded areas for firewood. The wood, if they can find any, provides a little warmth and also a flame to cook over. Sometimes it is more critical to keep people alive a little longer so they may still be reached with the Good News than it is to bury the dead.
As the missionaries continue the work of the ministry they have been called to, the Middle East continues arming and positioning for major conflict. Israel’s closest enemies are drawing in the noose for another attempt to push the Jewish people into the sea. This of course will bring immediate and very violent response from the Israeli military. The missionaries know that the casualties will be very high, but, they have also learned by experience that the worse things get, the more open people are for the Good News of Jesus.
We have entered a time when Jesus said we would have wars, rumors of wars, and threats of the same. Those of us not in the Mideast should not think that these things will not touch us. While the Middle East is prepping for a major Mideast conflict, the rest of the world is preparing for what will morph into World War 3. Man will not be able to keep it from happening. Jesus foretold that “when they say, ‘Peace and Safety’, sudden destruction comes.” Yet, Jesus also said that those that believe in Him should not be troubled! that depressing new? This means that the second coming of the Messiah is very near! With all these things in mind, what should we do? How should we live? The Apostle Paul had this to say:
“Awake, you who sleep. Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:14-17
Please continue to pray for the brethren of the House of Blessing! God answers prayer! In their desperate situations, they do not have a Plan A, Plan B, or Plan C, in case the first or second plan does not work out. They only have Plan A…which is trusting God for everything! Please lift them up before our Lord, and if you have the desire to help them with a financial gift, please use the convenient PayPal button on the homepage of this website, and they will have the funds in their hands within the week. As there is not one paid staff member, the HOB missionaries every single dollar goes for the work of ministry. Thank You!
Just as something clear off subject but interesting, I received a second call from Pastor R early this morning telling me of some interesting news coming out of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. I was sent a few photos and then confirmed through Middle Eastern news sources that Mecca is experiencing a major invasion of locusts, cockroaches, and other insects. I am aware that swarms of locusts in the Mideast are not a totally rare event, but I’m not sure that it is so common in the dead of winter, but I could be mistaken. Regardless, Pastor R thought readers might be interested in this piece of news. Signs of the times? Very possible. Whether it is or not, we KNOW that the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords is about to remove His faithful ones from this fallen wicked, Christ-rejecting world! Very SOON!
Forever in His Service,