Richard Wurmbrand, founder of the “Voice of the Martyrs”, after having spent fourteen years in a Communist prison in Romania, had this to say,
“A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for. The Christians of the underground church have proved that they are ready to die for their faith.”
For many in the Christian world today, Christian living is little more than going to church once a week, singing some religious songs, reciting a creed, taking a couple dollars out of their wallet for the offering, and then doing their “duty” listening to the weekly sermon. During the rest of the week, life’s priorities are very different. We work, we play, we entertain, we are entertained, we find every means of using the remainder of our time to the greatest advantage possible in such a way that brings us as much pleasure and gratification as possible. In short, our lives are pretty much self-centered.
I suppose this may sound pretty harsh, even “judgmental” to some. I get that. Yet, in light of the fact that we are beings who will live eternally, and are living very short temporary existences in this limited physical realm, maybe it is not so judgmental after all.
I was thinking this morning while in church, how easy it is to sing along with the worship songs, yet reciting those great words without the true depth of relationship with our Creator God that He has offered us—the kind of depth that can carry us through the absolute worst that hell can throw at us. Most of the Church in this generation has not had to “resist to the point of bloodshed” as is said in Hebrews 12:4. In fact, the question came to mind: if we are not able to overcome the tendencies of our own fallen nature so as to keep ourselves from bitterness, unforgiveness, jealousy, or the damage we do to others through backbiting and gossiping; not allowing the Master to rule in these areas of our lives, do we really think we will stand when we are truly being persecuted for being Christ followers? Not just by having our non-profit status taken from us when we give to Christian ministries, but by real physical persecution! The great reformer Martin Luther said it this way:
“If the devil were wise enough and would stand by in silence and let the Gospel be preached, he would suffer less harm. For when there is no battle for the Gospel it rusts and it finds no cause and no occasion to show its vigor and power. Therefore, nothing better can befall the Gospel than that the world should fight it with force and cunning.” (Martin Luther, tried for heresy, 1521)
I am afraid, in our postmodern world, we are guilty of having rusted from a lack of having to really stand up for what we believe! We have also lost our first love, as Jesus our Messiah reprimanded the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4. We have forgotten from where we have fallen! In His mercy, God will pull out the artificial religious props we have built under ourselves. We have become comfortable and lazy in our predictable lifestyles, not realizing that we will be held accountable for what God has blessed us with. Those blessings were not for us! They were for us to use to fulfill the Great Commission of Mark 16:14-20:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them, they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs, Amen.
This has been the story of the true Church since Jesus ascended to the Throne. The true follower of Christ has considered all things as loss for Christ! They have been ridiculed, mocked, laughed at, made sport of, robbed of every possession they had, imprisoned, tortured, and killed, yet they loved their persecutors to their very own deaths. This is how the early Church began, and this is how the latter day Church is concluding the Church Age! The price is very high, but the harvest is enormous! Highly blessed of the Lord of the Harvest is the person that sees the value of the opportunity to invest in the harvest of this day! There has never been a greater day!
With this, I would like to present you with the latest update that I just received this morning (Sunday, May 31, 2015) from Pastor R*****, founder of the House of Blessing. These last few days turned out to be very difficult days for a number of reasons. As most of you that keep up with this blog know, the war between all the opposing forces in the Middle East today is killing multitudes of people. The civil war in Syria has been going on since 2011 and the statistics say that at least 200,000 people have been killed. From what I hear from inside sources, that number is very conservative. The dead and dying are everywhere, and it is getting worse by the day. ISIS has the intent of taking over the entire Muslim world so they can once again set up the caliphate. Bashar al-Assad (an Alawite Shia muslim) is fighting against ISIS, but also against other Sunni forces (the rebels, backed by the U.S.)—which by the way, are also fighting against ISIS. Iran, with its Shiite muslim leaders, is contemplating turning some of Hezbollah’s 100,000 missiles (which are presently aimed at Israel) against ISIS, in order to try and save both Damascus and Baghdad. The King of Jordan (a direct descendant of Muhammad), Abdullah II, is a Sunni Muslim, but has a large percentage of his Jordanian population that supports ISIS. Saudi Arabia and Egypt (Sunni Muslim) are both deadly enemies of ISIS. They are not friends of Israel, but for the moment see Israel as the lesser of two evils when compared to ISIS. Then of course, there is Pakistan. Pakistan is more than willing to sell nuclear weapons to any Sunni nation–in fact, reportedly, already have done so. And, this is just a little taste of what is going on today. ISIS is virtually unchecked in their advances. They are overrunning more and more of the Middle East as each week passes. There is no military force that is slowing them down. ISIS is now threatening to invade Israel. As much as we would like to hope that the war won’t get worse, according to Old Testament prophecies, a major Middle East war is about to break out.
In the middle of all this chaos are the missionaries! Whereas many were being murdered by jihadists (and still are) for their faith in Jesus Christ, great numbers are now being killed by bombs, missiles, and mortar rounds, etc. This was the case once again this last week. Seven of HOB’s missionaries were killed. A request was sent for help to bury the dead and when five additional missionaries were sent to aid in the burial process, they were also killed!
During the same period of time, three of Mofidah’s widows were ministering to a group of around 40 new believers when a missile or bomb exploded where they were at, killing all of them as well as many additional civilians nearby. The dead included men, women, and children. After hearing of so many of these reports, it is easy to become inured to them. Yet, each and every one of these people are individuals. They have families, and these families and friends are grieving. House of Blessing missionaries on the other hand, even though they are well aware that the missionaries who have been lost are in the presence of the Lord Jesus, also still go through a grieving process. These missionaries have experienced the loss of many more of their friends and family than most. An unofficial estimate is that HOB has lost somewhere between 600-700 volunteer missionaries these last three years! Men and women and children have been martyred for Christ for the last 2,000 years since the inception of the Church at Pentecost. At this point in history, however, the number of martyrs under the great altar described in Revelation 6:9-11 is growing beyond imagination. We are very near the end of the age!
Speaking as a believer from the West, I know that God will hold all of us accountable for how we have responded to His call on our lives. Although there is no sin in wealth ownership, there is a sin in our tendency to trump the leading of God’s Spirit in what we are to do with what He has put into our hands…on loan. We tend to think we have “ownership” of the blessings we’ve been entrusted with. Wrong. God has put everything we have into our hands on loan. We then prove our obedience or disobedience to Him in how we respond when He asks us to do something with it! There is coming a day soon when all of us will give answer to Him for what we have done with what He has entrusted us with. What answer will we give? I have had to answer that question many times myself…
House of Blessing is doing everything in its power to meet the basic needs of as many of the people in their areas as possible. In the process of providing wheat, water, Bibles, and other necessities, the lost are being reached by the thousands…literally! HOB has virtually no overhead because there is no paid staff, nor are there organizational assets needing to be maintained. All funds coming in go directly to the needs at hand and God continues to multiply everything that comes in. Every week has many reasons for praise reports! God is very much engaged in the great harvest happening in the Middle East. There is a great effort to reach as many as possible before the door of the ark is closed! If God speaks to your heart, there is an address below to where you can send financial help. Funds are deposited to a bank in the US and it is available for use immediately in the Middle East. God has seen to it that each and every single Bible purchased for these folks has born fruit…much fruit, just as we asked the Lord at the very beginning of this project in 2012. God has been faithful…we have the opportunity to do the same!
I am reminded once again of Hebrews 11. The entire chapter lists heroes of the faith. As one after another is mentioned, it reads like this starting in verse 30:
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (verses 30-40, NKJV)
In my opinion, the Book of the Acts of the Apostles is still being written today—not by an earthly scribe, but by a heavenly one. The day will come when every single account will be made available for every true believer and follower of Jesus Christ to enjoy and be amazed by. Soon, this long historical record will be complete, the last chapter having been written. It is not just the lives of the martyrs that is being recorded. Every single action of every single believer in the history of the Church is being recorded. Each person will be rewarded according to their faithfulness to the One who has called us into His family. Let’s run the race well. We are now on the last lap and the finish line is within view! Give it all your have!
Mailing Address: House of Blessing, PO Box 2093, Redmond, OR 97756