As I was recalling my last conversation with Pastor R, I thought back on the difficulties that our friend has gone through over the years. Snippets came to mind of stories about the first Omar, back in 2012 and 2013, when he took the first handful of Bibles over the border from Jordan into Iraq and subsequently started a House of Blessing community there. A few years later, and after many trials and challenges, Omar, his wife, and small child were all murdered for their faith in Jesus. I think of Brother Salem who had a tremendous testimony of God’s life-changing grace in his life. After sharing his testimony and seeing an entire Muslim congregation of men coming to a belief in Jesus, as he was walking home, he was knifed to death by a man who was still blinded to the Truth. One after another, these stories unfolded over the years. I recalled Nabil whom I had had the great privilege of speaking with by phone one evening as he visited with Pastor R.  I heard a little bit of his testimony and his great joy because of the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness. Within hours, on his way home from this visit, he was murdered by ten men, including his own 32-year-old son. Three days later, his wife, our beloved Mufiedah, was cornered in a mosque by the same son. He had brought 400 male witnesses with him and gave her one opportunity to deny her faith in Christ, or she would, in sight of all the witnesses be murdered for her faith. Although alone as a believer in Jesus, and the only woman among these 400 men, she was given the strength to look in her son’s raging eyes and warn him that he was the one who needed to recognize that he himself was in jeopardy of standing before the very One he was so vehemently denying. At that point Mufiedah’s son held her against a wall and was going to murder her, but God stepped in and the entire mosque exploded, leaving nothing but ashes of the building and all of its occupants—except for Sister Mufiedah, who walked out through the smoke, unharmed. 

There have been stories about Brother Farid, who had been a blind Muslim sheikh but was found by Jesus. He experienced a total change in his life and began to serve his Lord and Master. One day after he had shared his testimony about Jesus at a mosque, he was severely beaten and thrown out into the city garbage dump and left for dead. While dying, the Lord sent an angel to wake him, speak to him and heal him, not just of his injuries but also of his blindness and commissioned him to ministry. 

I could go on with the accounts of our second Omar who ministered together with Sami and Mussa for such a long time, all of them serving our Lord through the most difficult situations and persecutions. Mussa and Sami succumbed to cholera and are now with Jesus. Then there is our Sister Sarah who experienced God’s love in such a special way during a time of personal tragedy when her little boy was dismembered by a bomb. She came before Pastor R with her son’s body in a bloody bag to accuse God of having been absent when she needed Him the most. Instead, God touched her with a sense of His Presence and great love for her, as well as her son, and Sarah became, and still is, an amazingly powerful testimony of the love of God. She, Mufiedah, Fadwa, and many others whom we affectionately call The Widow Sisterhood, have been mightily used by God in so many ways over the years. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg and I don’t like to leave any out, but there are too many to name in this short update. Well over 1,200 pages have been written over the past eleven years, telling the stories of hundreds of House of Blessing missionaries. They have lived, they have served, they have sacrificed, and many of them have died in the service of the One who died for them. 

In this brief mention of a few of HOB’s missionaries, I also want to mention Pastor R, founder of the House of Blessing, and the incredible journey he has been on. I have only known him since March of 2012, but he had been serving Jesus many years before that. Since I have known him and have had the privilege of speaking and praying with him at least on a weekly basis, he has gone through more life and death experiences than anyone I have ever known. He became a paraplegic in 2013 due to an attack by Hezbollah militants. He has been beaten and left for dead several times. He has gone through a 13-hour surgery to remove bacteria infecting his skull due to beatings.  He has been spared from a direct missile hit, and so very much more. He has had to deal with gangrene in his feet and cancer in his body. He has battled diabetes and other physical issues. He continues to be maligned, misrepresented, and his life threatened constantly. He has never ceased being on the hit list of God’s enemies. The devil wants him dead! Yet, our Lord has never forsaken him or left him alone…and He has spared him time and time again.

Today, Pastor R continues to have a serious fight for his health, yet the one thing that is on his mind is the rescuing of souls. One of the questions I get on occasion is, why does God not step in and heal Pastor R? So many others have been healed of all sorts of diseases and maladies. Many have been raised from the dead. Why does Pastor R continue such a struggle with his health? I don’t have an answer except to say, our human way of thinking tells us it would have such a powerful effect for the kingdom of God and all those around him if he were healed and could walk again and be free of all pain! But, God knows all things and has eternal reasons for everything. Our job is to be faithful and trust Him…always.

In one of the devotionals I was reading this morning, I found an application that fits all of our situations in this sojourn in our fallen world. There are times when we don’t feel the presence of God, we don’t hear His voice, we don’t see His hand, when there’s no sign of His love or purpose, and when He seems far away or not there at all. So when we see nothing but darkness, that is the time to trust Him—-knowing He will never fail in His promises to us. He said “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” He is saying this to us: “Even though you don’t feel My presence, it is there still. Even though you don’t see My hand, it is still moving. Even though you don’t hear My voice, I am still speaking, even in the silence. Even though you feel abandoned and alone, My love is still there. And when I seem hopelessly far away from you, I am still right there beside you, working all the details of your life for My purposes and your redemption. In the end, the light will break the darkness, the good will prevail, and you will know that you were never alone. I was with you all along!”

7 I can never be lost to Your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! 8 If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, You are there. 9 If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, 10 even there Your hand will guide me, Your strength will support me. 11 If I try to hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around me. 12 For even darkness cannot hide from God; to you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to You!” Psalm 139:7-12 (Living Bible)

1 God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble. 2 And so we need not fear even if the world blows up, and the mountains crumble into the sea. 3 Let the oceans roar and foam, let the mountains tremble! 4 There is a river of joy flowing through the City of our God—the sacred home of the God above all gods. 5 God Himself is living in that City; therefore it stands unmoved despite the turmoil everywhere. He will not delay His help. 6 The nations rant and rave in anger—but when God speaks, the earth melts in submission and kingdoms totter into ruin. 

7 The Commander of the armies of heaven is here among us. He, the God of Jacob, has come to rescue us. 8 Come, see the glorious things that our God does, how He brings ruin upon the world, 9 and causes wars to end throughout the earth, breaking and burning every weapon. 10 ‘Stand silent! Know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation in the world!’ 11 The Commander of the heavenly armies is here among us! He, the God of Jacob, has come to rescue us! Psalm 46:1-11 (Living Bible)


Wars, rumors and threats of wars, pestilences, droughts, famines, earthquakes, cosmic events, persecutions, and many other things are being experienced all over the world, but Jesus said, “When you see all these things come to pass, look up, for your redemption is near.” Praise GOD! The last part of the psalm above tells us that God is in control and He is going to bring all things into subjection to His righteous and just rule! 

As we watch for that great Day, we all continue in what God has called us to do. The HOB missionaries continue ministering to thousands every day. I don’t know the latest death count from the earthquakes in Turkey and northern Syria, but it has passed 55,000. HOB missionaries are still retrieving bodies out of the rubble and burying them as they are able. Many dead from cholera are being added to the dead from the earthquakes. Pastor R himself is still fighting cholera. HOB missionaries ministered to well over 2,000 families in the last few days. Even though there were no supplies at this time to distribute, the missionaries were able to share the special Oregano tea mixture that has been a health benefit to so many. Of course, many were reached with the Good News about Jesus and became followers of our Lord and Master. 

Please continue to pray for all of the House of Blessing, all across the Mideast. Their main goal is to reach souls while there is still time. Time is definitely running out. The Church Age is about to end. Pastor R mentioned to me in our last conversation that the coming of the Lord is very, very close. Please pray with urgency that many more can be added to the harvest. 

Ramadan is coming once again. I suspect Ramadan could prove to be a turning point in the Middle East this year due to the impending conflicts and the Islamic rage against all the people of the Book, especially the Jewish people. Pray, pray, pray! Jesus is coming…

Forever in His Service,



P.S. from Anne:

As I read through Jake’s message above, I had to admit that I also sometimes struggle with the question of why Father does not heal Pastor R. The answer that has been of comfort to me when faced with similar questions, is part of a poem by Annie Johnson Flint that I read in a devotional years ago.  I share it here with prayers that, while it does not answer our questions, it does offer great comfort in trusting Him no matter what:

Rejoice, though each desire, each dream,

Each hope of mine may fall and fade;

It is the hand of Love Divine that holds the knife

That cuts and breaks with tender touch

That I, whose life has borne some fruit, 

Might now bear much. 



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