Just as the corona virus is becoming a greater part of world news today, so is it also becoming a greater reality in the Middle East. A concern for the last two months has been that the virus would eventually spread into the crowded refugee camps. This is now happening. Actually, the flu itself has killed a large number of people even before the virus was known about. Since the last Mideast Update, among the people Sami, Musa, and Omar and their helpers have been working with in the last couple weeks, over 700 were already suffering from the flu. Now, not only is the flu still sickening and killing people, but so is the corona virus. Without any testing means available, it is difficult to tell which is killing more people, the flu or the virus. The virus of course is proving to be much more infectious and kills a higher percentage of those infected.
The spread of the virus is especially problematic in the densely populated tent cities. I am told that because of the lack of enough available tents, the refugees are trying to squeeze 15 people into each tent. Even then, there are untold thousands who have no shelter at all.
The House of Blessing is also reporting the increasing outbreak of the virus in other areas. A number of HOB missionaries have died in Iraq and quite a number in Iran. Among those who Sahbander and Mortadah oversee in Iran, eight entire families, including a total of 88 people died of the virus, with another ten families having contracted it.
In all HOB communities, it is the elderly that are most vulnerable to the virus, but many younger people are now being infected as well. Omar, Sami, and Musa reported that among the missionaries working with them, they lost twenty two of their older folks, 10 women and 12 men.
All of this presents a pretty depressing picture, but in the midst of all the sickness and death—by disease, starvation, or war, thousands are being reached with the Gospel. Sami, Omar, and Musa and those helping them reported being able to pray with over 2,500 since the last update. Mufiedah and the women working with her prayed with an additional 800 and Sister Hafezeh and helpers 400 more.
In Iraq, Adel, Abed, Mariam, Fatima and their teams are continuing to minister to as many as they have the strength for. Unfortunately, some of these are also ill with the virus now, and some have gone home to be with the Lord.
Each day that passes presents new challenges but also new opportunities to share the love of God with people who have no hope. Each HOB missionary or member of the House of Blessing communities that die are grieved, but not as those who have no hope. For those who have passed, their earthly trials and tribulations are over! That in itself tempers the grief.
In spite of the diseases, starvation, and war, the House of Blessing missionaries continue to share the Good News of the Gospel as long as they have the strength to do so. They know, as we should, that time is now very short. The second coming of Jesus the Messiah is imminent.
Below are some of the words I read in a devotional written by Chris Tiegreen:
“We have been entrusted with the greatest truth the world has ever known. The disciples were the first hearers of this incredible commission. At the apex of history, Christ died and was raised—the age of resurrection had begun. The fulfillment of the sacrificial system had come, sins had been forgiven through Him, and the whole world was to be the audience of this story. It is an incomparable story; no man-made religion has ever come close to matching it. No others have claimed resurrection to back up their teaching. The disciples, as witnesses, were entrusted as guardians of this truth. We, too, are witnesses of the Resurrection. We haven’t seen it in the same way the disciples did, but we have certainly witnessed it, if he lives within us by faith. And like them, we have been radically changed by this resurrection. No one who has encountered the risen Christ can remain the same; we are compelled by His Spirit within us—His relentlessly searching Spirit—to go and tell…”
In closing, Pastor R, Pastor Farid, and the entire House of Blessing is grateful for your prayers. God answers prayer and the harvest is being brought in by the multitudes! Don’t stop praying for them!
…now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11-12
Forever in His Service,