I spent some time thinking back over the scores of updates written in the past six years and wondered how often they may seem repetitive to readers. Over these past handful of years there have been stories telling of the Bibles provided and distributed, many accounts of the souls reached, stories describing some of the horrors witnessed and experienced by the House of Blessing missionaries, and of course the accounts of the many hundreds of HOB missionaries martyred every passing year.
Some of the updates have been more spectacular than others due to specialty stories telling of miraculous interventions in individual lives. However, most of the updates tend to contain information that is more general in nature. These updates are for the most part a listing of about how many are taking the HOB School of Ministry classes, approximately how many people are gathering in diverse locations to hear the preaching and teaching of the missionaries, and of course there is usually an accounting of those who have been led in the sinner’s prayer in the days since the last Mideast Update. Then, of course, it is my task to let the reader know of those who have lost their lives for the sake of their testimony of Jesus Christ.
As I was lost in thought, I heard the Lord drop a question into my mind. It was rather sudden and caught me off guard, but He asked, “What does it take to move you?” Since I was already gathering my thoughts for the current update, I knew I would incorporate God’s question into the text, but I would first have to answer the same question for myself.
In thinking about that question, I would like to share a few thoughts that come to mind—starting with another question. What is the value of a soul?? As finite humans, I’m not sure we can fully comprehend that value. When Adam and Eve, the parents of the human race, disobeyed their Creator in the Garden of Eden and subsequently brought death into a perfect environment, God showed them that He had already made provision for their fall and the fall of the entire human race. In fact, God had made provision before the foundation of the earth had ever been laid. What was the provision? The only sufficient sacrifice was the sinless, flawless and perfect Lamb of God, the Messiah and Saviour of the world. Without God stepping in and providing Himself as the perfect sacrifice, the entire human race was doomed! So…what is the value of the human soul? Apparently in God’s eyes, the human soul was worth so much that He would provide for its redemption through the death of Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, the second member of the Godhead. The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians states:
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:3-4 (emphasis mine)
I was privileged many years ago to be part of the Jesus People Movement from 1969 on through the 1970s. It was a most unique time and I had experiences to fill a book! There was a joy in those days expressed by those who were part of this great time of revival that was rarely seen in the years before, and unfortunately has been rare since. Every single personal commitment to Christ, every single baptism, every individual testimony brought great joy and celebration! Many of the new believers were delivered from mind altering drugs, out of deceptive eastern cults, released from entrapment in the occult and literal possession of demon spirits. Freedom from the hold of the evil one was expressed with total abandon to the will of the Messiah, Jesus. Material possessions meant little and careers were laid at the feet of the Master with great joy! It was not considered a sacrifice because the joy was so great!
I am afraid that for much of the corporate Church today, that joy and the complete abandon to the will of the Master has been lost. True missionaries continue giving their lives to reach the lost, and yet many of us, on hearing their testimony of the great things God is doing in their midst and their accounts of real live events, we consider them more like fairy tales? How many of us are more dedicated to our denominational church programs or our individual church committee meetings than seeing the Great Commission fulfilled? Most denominations keep statistical reports of every salvation per week, the number of baptisms per week, and the donation totals. Do we look more closely at statistics, formulas, and programs instead of lost souls won into God’s Kingdom? God’s question once again was: “What moves us?”
Are we impacted when we hear of those who were once lost but are now part of the family of God? Are we moved when we hear of the miracles on the mission field or do we immediately wonder if the stories are exaggerated? Do we maybe even doubt that God does such things today? Does it pull on our heart strings when we hear of the great financial needs of these missionaries–people who are just like us, people who happen to have been called to live totally by faith? Does it ever make us question whether God would have us spend the finances he has given us on loan differently than how we had already planned? Do we ever ask Him?
These are just some questions we should ponder…
For the House of Blessing, the last attack which took the lives of so many of their leaders was a difficult tragedy to get over. But, the Lord has been faithful and has encouraged them and given them the courage and desire to get right back out to the mission field God has called them to. The survivors of the 42 missionaries that were shot in the last attack have now been reduced to 12. One more passed away since the last report. It was a terrible blow but God is greater than any of the evil one’s attacks. In fact, the widows of each of these men have asked to be trained to do the very work their husbands were doing when they were murdered! These women are brave, and their love for their Messiah is greater than any fear they have of those that would like to kill them! Praise God for their faith!
Since Ramadan began three weeks ago, the missionaries have been working feverishly to reach as many with the Gospel as possible. During the days of Ramadan, they sleep very few hours. Most of the work of evangelism goes on during the cooler hours of the night. So, when the hottest part of the day comes, they try and get a little sleep before going back out and doing the same thing all over again.
The HOB brethren all have their individual responsibilities. Many of them are gathering with very large groups of the newer believers. In my latest call from Pastor R, he gave me the listings of many individual groups scattered all over the Mideast. A sampling of the attendance of these mass meetings are 1,500, 1,800, 1,900, 900, 1,400, 800, 900, 750, 950, 1,100, 600, and another crowd of 1,500. Sarah and the 70 women helping her have also been gathering with around 800 or so on several occasions in the last few days. The leaders of all these meetings are encouraging the believers, reaffirming the Word of God to them, and continuing to train them in the work of evangelism. Many of these gatherings have been able to have special celebrations of communion as well.
In conclusion, please keep all of these missionaries and the volunteers helping them in prayer. Also, keep the House of Blessing community of believers in prayer. They all live in danger, not only from the enemies of Jesus Christ, but also from unexpected missile attacks, incessant mortar attacks, etc. The Bible instructs us to pray for all of our brethren, no matter where they are.
The needs of course also continue to be great. The body of believers is very large in the Mideast and the conditions they are trying to survive are almost impossible. Those of us in the West cannot even imagine. So, if the Lord asks you to help with the work they are doing, please use the PayPal button provided on this blog site. Thank you! God always multiplies the gifts!
A special thank you to all who have prayed so faithfully and also those who have given sacrificially as well. God is good!!
Forever in His Service,