One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Romans 8. Below are three of these verses:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose…What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:18, 28, 31
As most of you know, I received a request for special prayer from the House of Blessing about two weeks ago because news had come through of Pastor R and his two right hand men, Youssef and Rahdi having been attacked by a large group of Hezbollah militants while ministering in northern Syria. Since that time, I had heard nothing. This morning however, I received a call from Pastor R himself and he was able to share a bit more of the details of what had happened and what the status is today.
Pastor R told me that the three of them had been ministering to long lines of people who were coming for prayer, just as they had been for many weeks. This of course had begun long before the Islamic month of Ramadan had begun and was continuing right on through it. As it was related to me this morning, at the end of one of these days, Pastor R was in his tent alone when about 20 Hezbollah militants charged into his tent hollering and screaming at him that he was to quit talking to the people about Jesus. They said that way too many were hearing the message and responding to it and they were not going to allow it. As they shouted at him, Pastor R kept his voice calm and tried to respond to them, but to no avail. They demanded that he repent of his heresy and accept Muhammad as the one and only true prophet. Pastor R told them that he could not do so because Jesus Christ was the true Messiah promised by God, and there was none other!
Seeing that they were not going to persuade him, they began to beat and abuse him. As this was happening, Rahdi and Youssef came in and immediately tried to intervene, telling the militants that they could not abuse this man this way as he was a prophet of God. It seemed that this only served to cause them to go into a rage. They then proceeded to viciously beat all three men, telling them this was only a warning. They did not want to hear of them mentioning the name of Jesus again, or much worse would happen to them. They then shot both Youssef and Rhadi in one of their legs.
Pastor R told me that word was quickly gotten to Sister Mufiedah and she came to do whatever she could to tend to the men. She was able to remove the bullets from Youssef and Rahdi’s legs (without anesthesia of course, since they do not have any available). She then did everything she could with the rest of the wounds they had received. They were however quite serious.
It was apparent within a couple days that all three men were in serious condition. Their fevers were spiking and they were not healing well. HOB leaders then decided to get them into a hospital. After a couple days in the hospital, Youssef and Rahdi were able to leave and they went back to the tent the three men had been staying in. Pastor R however was healing much slower due to other chronic issues he had had for a long time. One of these issues has been a serious case of diabetes. Pastor R is still fighting with high fever and the wounds which are located all over him, including his neck, head, face, shoulders, arms, and on down his torso. As of this morning, his doctors are trying to decide if they should do surgery on his midsection. They have suspicions that he might have a cancerous growth needing to be removed. As of the time of today’s phone call, they had not determined if this is the cause of his continuing stomach problems.
Pastor R told me that after Youssef and Rahdi returned to the tent, the House of Blessing made arrangements for one of the HOB sisters to come and tend to their needs, including seeing to it they had something to eat and whatever else they needed. It took no time at all before the militants paid another visit. As the sister was walking up to their tent, she noticed a large group of militants quickly headed in her direction. They were furious and shouting at Rahdi and Youssef, telling them that they had been warned but apparently had chosen to continue with their blasphemous preaching. Once again, they demanded that they repent of their heresy, deny Jesus Christ, and proclaim their allegiance once again to Allah and his prophet, Muhammad. Both men quietly said that there was no way they could do such a thing. They said Jesus had set them free of their sins through the power of His Blood and they knew they would be spending eternity in God’s kingdom. They also testified to the fact that they had seen God do a great many incredible miracles—miracles like no one in the refugee camps had ever seen come to pass in the world of Islam! How could they ever turn their back on the One who had been willing to die for the sins of the world? He was the only One that could truly forgive sin, and He was the only One who could fulfill the promise of eternal life in God’s heavenly Kingdom! Youssef and Rahdi told the militants that they could do whatever they wanted to them but they were not going to deny Jesus!
The powerful and unbending testimony of these two brave men as they steadfastly faced this large band of angry jihadists only infuriated them that much more. Without further warning, they shot them both to death. The missionary sister behind the tent heard everything and was able to confirm the details.
Pastor R said that he was very close to Youssef and Rahdi. They had been a tremendous blessing to him and now had left a legacy. Many had seen what had happened. Many of the witnesses had been prayed for and had become followers of Jesus because of them. Now, even more were desiring to follow in the footsteps of the others who had become believers in Jesus! Other HOB missionaries have stepped in to lead them to Jesus!
Rahdi and Youssef however did not just leave a legacy behind. They also both left wives and children. One of the widows was left with two girls and one boy, the other widow with two girls. Brothers Omar and Sami are presently caring for their needs. They have also sent some sisters to help them through the process of their grief as well as getting resituated to a life without their husbands. They could use our prayers!
In other areas, the work of the ministry continues full speed. The Bible classes started for Suleiman and the 480 former ISIS (Daesh) militants are continuing, with the new students taking twelve full hours of in class instruction per day.
It is estimated that a conservative number of at least 5,000 souls became believers and followers of Jesus Christ during Ramadan. All of these are being followed up on while the missionaries, without a pause, continue going from tent to tent, sharing the Good News of the Gospel. Pastor R received reports of Omar, Sami, Mussa, and their team reaching another 300 entire families. Mufieda, Sarah, Fadwa, and the sisters on their team reached another 180 families. Hafezah and Ferial have gone back to providing communion to 30 at a time, 5 times per day. Fatima and Mariam are doing the same with groups of 25 at a time, also 5 times a day. There are of course many others doing the very same thing in the HOB communities of believers across the middle east. Adel and his team of missionaries reached 85 families in the last couple weeks. Ibrahim, Akram, and their assistants were able to lead an additional 95 families to the feet of Jesus. Sahbander and Mortadah reported an additional 35 families being brought into the kingdom of God.
The House of Blessing has continued to supply the special oregano tea mixture to as many refugees as possible and continue to see very good results. They continue however having to bury quite a number of the elderly who were too weak and passed away. HOB missionaries continue to pray the sinner’s prayer with as many of these as possible before they pass on into eternity. And, as always, the missionaries aid in getting the dead properly buried. Sometimes this can amount to a dozen or more at a time in each individual refugee camp. These numbers do not represent the total number of dead in each camp, just the ones belonging to families HOB has become involved in as they present the gospel to the people.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize the continued need for prayer for the House of Blessing. The enemy of our souls knows his time is running out and his hatred of true followers of Jesus Christ is beyond our imagination. These missionaries are always living in danger of running into the same kind of trouble that Pastor R, Youssef, and Rahdi did.
The needs also continue. There is a great need for at least another truckload of wheat sacks and 1,000 Bibles. HOB is doing what they can to distribute the Bibles strategically over the many thousands who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior in past weeks. I know that Pastor R will have a hospital bill as well. But, we serve a big God!
I will conclude with a few more verses from Romans 8:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come. Nor height nor depth, nor any other created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
Forever in His Service,