Just a few moments before I received my call from House of Blessing this week, I was reading a passage of Scripture in 1 Peter which reads:
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins…
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. (1 Peter 4:7, 8, 11, 12-14, NKJV)
The call I received this week came with a story that shows once again the tremendous love of God for people, no matter who they are, or what they may have done in their past.
Brother Omar and his partner in ministry, Adel, along with 14 other HOB missionaries were seen preaching and sharing the Gospel of Jesus in the Tikrit, Iraq area and were kidnapped by a group of Muslim jihadist soldiers. They were asked point-blank what they were preaching to the people, and after the missionaries confirmed that they were indeed Christians, and that the message they were sharing had to do with Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the angry jihadist soldiers insisted that there was only one prophet, his name was Muhammad, and they were not allowed to preach or teach anything other than Islam.
The missionaries were given a choice to either recant their teaching of Christianity and come back to Islam themselves, or they would have to face the consequences. Not one of the 16 missionaries would bend in their commitment to Jesus, and so they were all bound, hand and foot, and put into a very small room. They were not given any food or water. During the three days confined to the room, they endured numerous beatings but still refused to bow to the demands of their captors. Because of the extreme conditions and the extreme treatment they were receiving, the missionaries thought this was going to be the time that their lives would be taken from them…and they were ready and happy to die if it was God’s plan for them.
After these three days, their captors brought in three officers to decide their fate. As the officers began questioning the missionaries, two of them were visibly affected. A senior officer told them that they were going to question the missionaries and then execute them.
The missionaries were asked who was the head of their missionary work. Omar spoke up and declared that he was their leader and told them that he would give them whatever answers they needed. As the questioning continued, brother Omar testified by giving the officer the true story of God’s love for humanity, and why Jesus’ death on the cross was so significant. As Omar continued to answer questions fervently and steadfastly representing the good news of the Gospel, the senior officer had tears in his eyes. He then told Omar and the missionaries that he had made a grave mistake some weeks ago. He had condemned 15 Christian women to death who had testified about Jesus the very same way that Omar was. He confessed taht he had not been able to sleep well since ordering the execution of these 15 women. He lost his family and was now tormented night and day, not finding any source of hope or peace. He then asked Omar, “Will your God forgive even someone like me?”
Omar responded by saying, “Yes, if you are honest and if you humble yourself before Him, He will forgive you! I can lead you in the sinner’s prayer, and if you are serious, God will forgive you completely, and bring you into His family.” This officer as well as his partner both prayed and asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins and asked Him into their hearts and lives as Lord and Master! The officer then said he would take care of the problem with their confinement. There were other soldiers stationed at the little building where the missionaries had been kept, and he dismissed them, sending them to serve in another location. At night-fall, the missionaries were set free. The two officers, however, decided to get rid of their military uniforms and weapons and asked to travel with Omar to be taught about God so that they could also become missionaries. Omar then took the former officers to his own home, broke bread with them, and baptised them as the Scriptures command.
The 15 women who had been executed at the command of this officer were the same who had been trained by Mofidah in Syria to join the “Widow Sisterhood.” These women then went on into Iraq to minister to people in need. These also were caught sharing Jesus’ gospel and, as a consequence, died brutal deaths yet left such a powerful testimony that the man who condemned them to die ended up becoming a believer himself! This is such a testimony of God’s love. Anyone that humbles themselves before Him can be forgiven…no matter what it is that they have done!
The Apostle Paul was an example of this very thing. Saul (later called Paul), the zealous Pharisee, went around looking for Christians to imprison, beat, and even execute–all in the name of religion. The Pharisees were intent on wiping Christianity out within the first few years of Jesus’ death and resurrection. They failed! Jesus promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against the true Church! In spite of the fact that more Christians have been martyred within this last century than all the nineteen previous centuries put together, millions are today meeting Jesus Christ as the true Messiah. The power of God is undeniable and the last day’s harvest is well in motion!
As I share this story, having learned the details from Pastor R***** straight from the mission field, the winter took another turn for the worse. Extreme wind and unrelenting pounding by rain has brought down hundreds of tents. HOB missionaries have, however, gotten quite good at helping those around them. As a result, hundreds if not thousands end up asking the reason strangers would share such a love for those they don’t even know. This truly is “loving the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, and all of our strength…and our neighbors as ourselves”, as Jesus commanded. Please keep these folks in your prayers.
There are many hundreds that are waiting to go through the School of Ministry. As the weather becomes easier to deal with, the 14 hour teaching days will begin in earnest once more, and in several locations scattered around the Middle East. For those that desire to help with the constant need for Bible and humanitarian supplies, see the post office box below. The need is great and there are 1,000 Bibles ready to be picked up from the printer currently. We serve a very big God and He will multiply what is given from a cheerful and generous heart! We don’t know, but this could be the last few months we have to pour ourselves into the work before the Lord calls His remnant home. Please allow me to share one of my favorite Scriptures once again. It is found in 2 Corinthians 9 and reads like this starting in verse 6:
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And god is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever;”
Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:6-15, NKJV)
May God bless and keep you all until that great trumpet blows!
House Of Blessing (HOB); P.O. Box 2093; Redmond, OR 97756