This week is the eighth anniversary of the beginning of Syria’s civil war. One would think that the regime in Syria would be more than anxious for the end of the nightmare that the people of Syria have been going through. Yet, even after millions of Syrian civilians have left the nation and millions more have been displaced within the country, with the unofficial death toll from the war totaling near one million souls, now the Assad regime has openly vowed to go to war with Israel if Israel does not withdraw from the Golan Heights.
Is Bashar al-Assad hoping to start a mideast war that he thinks might bring the destruction of Israel—thereby making himself a hero in the Islamic world? It seems that he may now be willing to take this enormous gamble in order to achieve his goal. In light of Israel’s overwhelming military power, he is taking a terrible risk. Israel has made it abundantly clear that she has no intention of ever again allowing the Golan to slip out of their control, certainly not into the hands of Syria–or anyone else, for that matter. But Assad is willing to take the chance of Damascus being leveled and his nation totally devastated because he thinks that in beginning this major war, he will not be fighting alone. He is counting on help from Israel’s Islamic neighbors.
At the same time, what is left of ISIS is being taken down. The militants still hold an untold number of hostages and have considerable weapons and ammunition caches. One of their tactics since their beginning has been suicide bombers and a number of car bombs. As their forces are whittled down little by little, the civilians they have under their control are relocated with other displaced people. ISIS militants embed themselves within these groups. They have no intention of being taken alive and will sacrifice themselves to take as many of these civilians down with them as possible.
In short, this is the situation in the Middle East today, and it is the circumstance the House of Blessing missionaries are facing. They have known for some time now that a major war is inevitable…and, the Bible tells us the same. Knowing this, they are quietly preparing themselves for whatever the circumstances will be when a full-fledged war breaks out. As they see it, the people will be even more open for the Gospel of Good News if this happens. And, even though there is naturally some personal trepidation among the House of Blessing community, all have learned that God is always in control, even when circumstances seem to be totally chaotic and out of control.
When I spoke with Pastor R a couple days ago, he shared with me that some of the leadership, particularly in northern Syria, have felt a need to be alone for a few days in order to get out of the fray and spend some “alone time” with their Heavenly Father. They have seen so much and have had their hearts broken so many times that they just need some spiritual recharging. This is something we all need at times, but in their case, where they are dealing with starvation on a daily basis, people infected with all kinds of diseases, having to bury so many dead–especially the children and the elderly, it becomes overwhelming. Whereas in some parts of the Mideast, the HOB missionaries can at least partially maintain their status, in Syria–especially northern Syria, it is impossible. Even though they do everything they can to spread the meager amount of food and other supplies as far as possible, the numbers of the needy are just so great.
Thankfully, God has stepped in many times with stunning miracles of provision, often multiplying the available food so that it feeds many times the amount of empty stomachs waiting in the long lines. And then, there are the miracles of healing, even some raised from the dead. Yet, the Bible has not said that all suffering would be removed in the fallen state this world is in–especially now that mankind is facing the very end of the age. As followers of Christ, we must continue doing our best; in prayer, in support, and in putting our faith to work as we believe that God knows exactly what needs to be done, and when. We must do as the old hymn says: “Trust and Obey, for there is no other way!” It is our Heavenly Father that is the Lord of the Harvest. Our part is to fulfill whatever He asks of us. This portion of the end time harvest is nearly over…but until it is, and the Lord has removed His remnant of true believers from this world, we must continue full-speed ahead.
One of the blessings from the past few days is that the believers have been able to have their communion services again. God is always faithful to especially bless those partaking with His presence and with miracles. The believers always find themselves strengthened in their relationship with the Master.
Another blessing this past week is that quite a number of the HOB School of Ministry students graduated and are trusting in the Lord of the Harvest to guide them into their own areas of ministry. Among the graduates were 69 ex-sheikhs. These men, in the past, had great influence in their Muslim communities. The Lord will now use them greatly to set thousands free of the spiritual bondage they have been under for their entire lives. We must pray for them as it is a very dangerous business to proclaim the name of Jesus in Muslim nations. But, we serve a great God!
Pastor Farid has continued in the ministry the Lord has given him. He and his seven children who have all been healed of blindness are now praying for people by the hundreds nearly every day. And, the Lord has healed many hundreds of those they have prayed for–just as God promised Farid when he was visited by God’s angel after being beaten and left for dead in the town garbage dump. God always keeps His promises!
Pastor R continues spending about 14-16 hours a day praying for between 500-600 a day. Please pray that the Lord will keep him healthy and provide him the strength to continue this regimen every day. People are lined up from early in the morning, waiting to be prayed for by him. The hunger is very great!
In conclusion, I would like to mention that there is a growing number of true followers of Jesus who are experiencing an ever-increasing longing to go home and be in His presence. Some would say they are just wanting to escape the troubles ahead, but, I disagree. I am one of these whose longing is growing by the day, and I know it has nothing to do with escapism. What we are experiencing is what the Apostle Paul experienced late in his ministry. Note his words as he wrote to the Philippians:
According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. Philippians 1:20-24
One main difference between Paul’s time and ours is that his ministry was early in the Church Age, and ours today is at the very end. The Days of the Gentiles are very near to being finished. The gates of God’s Grace to this fallen world are very near to being closed. The Judge of the entire earth is about to deal with the nations of the world in judgment. Although, the harvest of souls during the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord will be very great, the Church Age will have ended and His remnant Church will no longer be here on the earth. We will be in the presence of our Saviour! Praise His Name Forever!
Forever in His Service,
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