Every day as we watch the current news, we are reminded of how troubled our world is. There are those who are either self-absorbed or oblivious to current events, but to those who are paying attention it is obvious that we are headed toward more trouble than mankind has ever seen. The words of Jesus in answer to His disciples’ question about the time of the end, are now a reality. He said this:
Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:4-14
For those who are true Jesus followers and know where this is headed, it is possible to have joy in spite of it all. For those that are not, the fears of the future are growing daily. Jesus had much more to say than just the few verses above and everything that He warned about is happening today. In John 16:33 He gave us a promise and a word of comfort. This is what He said:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
Not only Has He overcome the world but He has also promised to take us out of this world and bring us into His own glorious presence for eternity! It is a blessing to know that the tribulations and trials of this life are very soon coming to an end. What our God has prepared for those that love Him is far beyond what any of us can imagine.
I quite often try, in my mind’s eye, to put myself into the shoes of the underground believers in the Middle East today. It is impossible, but I do try. I look out the window of my study and all appears so peaceful. Yet, I know there is great conflict brewing in our world. The great storm of apocalyptic events that has been prophesied is at the door. What the world has seen so far pales in comparison to what is about to erupt. The Day of the LORD is about to begin.
Knowing this, the House of Blessing missionaries continue to touch as many lives as they possibly can with the love of Jesus. The only hope for our world is the One who created this world, the One who died for this world and then rose again so that we can live. There are many false prophets leading people astray. The fallen Lucifer is doing everything he can to lead the souls of men to destruction. The destruction being experienced by so many today in our physical world is one thing, but eternal destruction is another. This is what drives the HOB community of believers. As believers and followers of the Messiah, we are all involved in a struggle between good and evil, life and death, Heaven and Hell. Eternal decisions are being made and multitudes are passing into eternity every single day.
It is now being reported by some experts that over a million people have lost their lives in Syria since the beginning of Syria’s civil war. Syria had between one and two million refugees in the country from neighboring Iraq when the war began. Some UN figures report that possibly nine million have left the country and millions more have been displaced within the nation—with the number of displaced being near 50% of the population. I am not sure that anyone really has accurate numbers today because many of the statistics are contradictory. But it is clear that Syria is in a great deal of chaos today. The nation was ravaged by ISIS, and Iraq and Kurdistan have been as well. In addition to ISIS, there are dozens of other extremist militant organizations, and militarys from nations outside Syria’s borders, Russia, the U.S., Turkey, and others.
Reports from House of Blessing missionaries continue to tell of the many casualties. Even though there is continued talk of striking some kind of peace agreement, people continue to be killed. HOB brothers, Omar and Same took it upon themselves to gather volunteers to bury 280 victims, including 55 children. Some of the dead are war casualties, others are victims of starvation, still others of diseases. As their brethren, we aren’t able to help bury these people, nor are we able to comfort the volunteers when what they are having to do overwhelms them. But, we can pray for them, and pray for them we must. It is a command of Scripture. The Apostle Paul put it this way to the Philippian Church:
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4
Soon the harvest time will be over. You and I have been put into the unique position of being part of this time in history, which is correctly being called, “the very last of the ‘last days.’” In the West, it is said that it only one in 1,000 people are reached for Christ. But in the third world, it is taking one to reach a 1,000. While millions of dollars are spent on social programs in the churches and religious edifices of the West, new believers in the Middle East share one Bible among 60-100 believers. God does not condemn the West for what they have been blessed with but He will call us to account for consuming it all on ourselves in programs that are not reaching the souls of men. I am convinced that if we as believers follow the leading of the Spirit of God, the job of evangelizing will be completed in short order. As it is today, the heavy lifting of evangelizing a lost world is being carried by very few indeed, and much of it is through those who have the least.
As is the case every year, the winter is brutal for the refugees, which of course includes all of the hundreds of thousands of underground believers that are embedded in their midst. Tents continue to be flooded or blown down, and what meager supplies they have get damaged. Now that the coldest part of the winter is here, snow is another problem. Pastor R’s twelve assistants gathered 120 believers as volunteers to help rebuild or move tents for refugees. Sometimes they are able to move them to areas that are a bit higher in elevation and so a bit safer from the flooding waters. Another 430 of the HOB missionaries and volunteer believers gathered wood so fires could be built for warmth and to make bread with wheat that has been distributed by the missionaries. The condition today is that two truck loads are needed to stave off starvation for a little longer…at least so the missionaries have more time to share the Good News about Jesus, the Messiah. That seems like a cold, hard way of looking at things, but that is just the way it is.
The HOB missionaries and their community of believers continue doing everything they can to reach the lost. Sisters Mufiedah and Fatwa and their Widow Sisterhood continue to minister to the war injured, day after day. Between them, another 80 were treated, bandaged, prayed over for God’s healing, and led to the Throne of Grace. All 80 now belong to the Kingdom of God.
Sister Sarah also continues ministering to as many as God brings across her path with the team of helpers working with her. They ministered to about 140 this past week.
All across Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, western Iran, and other locations the HOB teachers continue teaching Bible classes to as many as they can fit into their gathering areas. In each location where students have graduated their classes, new classes begin. New materials made available to them are reviewed to make sure the translation into Arabic or Farsi is correct, then mass-copied and distributed across the Mideast by the HOB couriers.
The great excitement to receive the Word of God is something that most of us in the West would find inspiring, perhaps amazing. Every word is heard, meditated on, and Scriptures memorized. Most of these folks who have no Bibles have memorized more Scripture verses than most of us who have multiple Bibles in our homes.
Wherever the missionaries are located, they do what they can to gather food, blankets, clothing, mattresses, and distribute to those who have lost everything. Cities like Mosul, Fallujah, Aleppo, Idlib, and Damascus have been devastated and most of the infrastructure would take years to rebuild. People make living spaces in bombed out buildings, holes dug out under buildings, or wherever they can find some degree of shelter. Those outside the big cities live in tents if they have one. Others find caves or holes in the ground. With so little to their names, the hope of a very real and literal Heaven means a great deal to them. Here in the West, life is so good that Heaven is not much more than a distant fairy tale for after the good things of this life have ended.
As has been said many times in these updates, the Middle East is on the edge of a major regional war and the HOB community of believers are expecting it. Iran has at least 82,000 soldiers in Syria and Hezbollah has another 9,000. The United States has thousands of soldiers in the north and is training tens of thousands more. Russia is well embedded in Syria as well with its army, navy, and airforce in a overt posture. Turkey is presently also coming over the border with a massive number of troops and military equipment. A major conflict can be ignited at any time. Israel is carefully watching all of these developments and knows that a major conflict is not a matter of “if” but “when.” In addition, Shiite Iran strives toward control of the Middle East and the Sunni Muslim nations have no intention of allowing it to happen. Add to this Russia’s vested interest in monopolizing the Mideast and Turkey’s dream of bringing about the return of the Ottoman Empire, with Istanbul as the capitol, and we can begin to see the many smoldering fires. Israel, being located within this massive sea of Muslim nations, knowing that they really have no true friends in the region, is well prepared for a several front war, knowing that the Muslim nations declare their intent to push the Jewish nation into the Mediterranean Sea. God is well aware and will not allow it to happen.
In conclusion to this update, Pastor R asked me to express his gratitude to all who have been praying for his health. God is continuing the healing process on his feet and the doctors at the clinic continue to be baffled by how this could happen. They did expect, not only to have to remove some toes, but very possibly more, especially considering the poor condition of the nervous system in his legs. God saw differently!
Let’s continue in our prayers, not only for Pastor R, but also for the many hundreds of House of Blessing missionaries and the great multitude of underground believers numbering in the many hundreds of thousands scattered all over the Middle East. The rest of the harvest must come in and that is something we can help with. Much is needed, from Bibles to truckloads of wheat, mattresses, clothing, and medications. God always maximizes the gifts that come in. As an American evangelist said many years ago, “Little is much when God is in it!” Please be part of what God is doing in these last moments of time. For those that would like to help financially, please find the PayPal button on this site. Every dollar given goes to the work of the missionaries. There is no paid staff. Thank you!!
Forever In His Service,