As we look back at Church history we find that no matter the circumstances, the true Church, as it was empowered by the Holy Spirit, was able to thrive and grow. We see this in many locations in our world today, including the troubled Middle East. The Book of Acts gives us many examples of this, one of them in chapter two.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
In today’s Mideast Update, we will add a bit more to the story of the five ISIS (Daesh) militants who recently became believers in Jesus Christ and were baptized in water. In the previous update we found that the five men, Suleiman and his four sons, Majd, Mustafa, Refaat, and Aref, had requested brother Omar to come and share the Good News of the Gospel to a gathering of extended family members and some others. Omar went as requested and brought a team of HOB missionaries with him. After hearing of Jesus and the free gift of forgiveness offered through His sacrifice, all present decided to become followers of Jesus as Suleiman and his sons had done just days earlier. They were then baptized before enjoying a full day of fellowship and great celebration. After leaving Suleiman five Bibles to distribute among the family, Omar and his team of missionaries left five Bibles to share among the family before returning to their daily work of the ministry.
Once again Suleiman contacted Omar. This time he asked if the House of Blessing could send some missionaries to spend time teaching them the basics of what it really means to be a Christ-follower. They were very anxious to learn so that they could begin to do their part in the work of evangelism. Suleiman told them that he did not expect HOB to provide anything other than some teachers and he would supply enough food for everyone. Of course, Omar, Sami, and Mussa saw this as quite an opportunity and after prayer knew that the Lord’s hand was in it.
When Pastor R called me this Sunday, he told me that Omar had picked six missionaries to go to begin the teaching and training process with Suleiman and his family. Pastor R had the right spellings of their names sent to me so I can share them with you. Two men and four women were sent. The male teachers, Hamouda, and Farouk, will train 20 men (plus Suleiman and his four sons). The female teachers, Maysa and Zaynab, will teach the 30 women. The 25 children will be taught by two ladies, Wardeh and Renna.
Pastor R, Omar, Sami, and Mussa have asked us to especially pray for this family group and for God’s anointing on the six missionaries that will be spending some concentrated hours with them all, helping them to get a basic understanding of the teachings of Jesus and his apostles and learning how to be led by the Holy Spirit. What an opportunity and what a privilege!
I know there are many who wonder if militants such as these (including many of the women) could truly make such a dramatic change. The House of Blessing has seen a great many militants from multiple terrorist groups reached with the Gospel of Jesus. Many Syrian and Iraqi soldiers have been reached as well. God is able to transform hearts and turn lives headed for destruction completely around, changing their destiny forever!
This story of Suleiman and his family is only a sample of what God is doing throughout the House of Blessing community of believers all over the Mideast. Most of the stories of the miracles God is doing in people’s lives will go untold until we are all gathered into God’s Kingdom. I suspect there will be unending celebration as we begin to hear how each person was brought into fellowship with God’s people and our Messiah.
As spring has now arrived on the calendar, winter is still making itself known in some areas –especially to those who are most exposed to the elements. HOB missionaries continue to rebuild and reset collapsed or damaged tents that get blown down or apart during storms. The oregano mixture that has been so effective against the winter sicknesses, including the Covid virus, continues to be distributed to many thousands of refugees. The dead, which is unfortunately very common within the refugee camps, are buried as quickly as possible. HOB missionaries at times need to obtain tractors in order to be able to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time. Most of those who die are the elderly or weakened. The circumstances are quite harsh, especially during the wintertime.
In all areas, preaching and teaching continues. Multitudes are prayed with and baptized as it is possible to do so. Communion services continue on a daily basis everywhere as the missionaries are able to gather the supplies. As always, these communion services are times of great spiritual refreshing and rejoicing. Many are touched by the Spirit of the Lord and many are healed of a wide assortment of diseases and ailments during these celebrations.
Pastor R told me that Raddi and Youssef continue to pray and minister to about 170-190 each and every day. They continue to experience many supernatural interventions by the Holy Spirit.
As we are near the end of March, Resurrection Sunday is just around the corner. This will be a great opportunity for the House of Blessing to tell the true story of what happened during Passover and, of course, at the Resurrection. This is a story very few Muslims know the truth about. Most have been taught that the crucifixion didn’t really happen at all.
Also, the Islamic month of Ramadan is once again coming up on the calendar. As most readers of the updates are already aware, this has proven to be a great time of harvest for the last nine years. One question we have asked for several years is, “Could this be the last Ramadan before Jesus calls His people home?” As we look at the world situation today, it is not difficult to see that we are at the end of the age! We know we are very near the Apocalypse that John the Revelator wrote about in the Book of Revelation. This means we are also very, very near to the time of the true Church being called into the presence of the Lord.
When I was speaking with Pastor R this week, the subject of the urgency of the hour came up. Pastor R confirmed to me the very thing that many are feeling, including yours truly. We have never been at such a critical time in the history of mankind and, unfortunately, the urgency of the hour is not being shared with enough people. Whatever we are going to do in the name of the Lord, we should do now—before we run out of time. Mankind has crossed a line in history and there is no coming back. We are in a time when everything is accelerating and the revealing of the Kingdom of God is very, very near. The prophet Zephaniah referred to the time we find ourselves in today and by inspiration of the Spirit of God had these words to say to the Jewish nation and, by extension, also the rest of the human race:
Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together. O undesirable (unashamed, without longing) nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you! Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility, it may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger. Zephaniah 2:1-3
This is a message that God is speaking loudly and clearly today and it must resonate with us…now!
Thank you all for your prayers for the House of Blessing. Thank you also for your support. Pastor R met with 255 of HOB’s leaders and they are asking the Lord to provide for four truckloads of wheat, beans, lintels, etc., and enough funds for 2,000 Bibles. They are praying and fasting for three days and asking the Lord—not only for the funds needed, but also to bring them to as many souls as can be reached during this Ramadan. So far, there are already 1,800 volunteer HOB missionaries committed to the project this year–all living by faith. Ramadan begins on April 12 and ends on May 12. We are trusting God to multiply everything this year!
May the Lord bless you all,
Forever in His Service,