The House of Blessing missionaries are experiencing some things that you and I would love to witness in person. I have commented before that what is happening on the ground there is just like what we read about in the book of Acts. I pray that the Lord will take this update and make it as real to the heart of you the reader as it feels to me as I write.
I received a call from Pastor R yesterday, and although obviously exhausted physically, his reports from the different locations in Syria, Iraq, Kurdish populated areas, and Iran, are not just encouraging, but exciting! Long time readers of the Mideast Updates know that the House of Blessing has put great emphasis and effort into evangelizing during the Islamic month of Ramadan every year. This year is no exception. In spite of the chaos of war, in one form or another in different locations, God is pouring out His Spirit in a special way and the receptiveness of the people is extraordinary.
In the book of Acts we have a familiar passage; it is in fact, a small portion of Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost. I would like to share a portion for this update:
“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear, for David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’”
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Acts 2:29-43
This passage is a bit lengthy but tells part of the story of how 3,000 souls were added to the Kingdom of God as the apostle Peter told the crowd who Jesus Christ really was. Until God opened the eyes of the crowd, they saw Jesus as only an imposter, or at best, one of many outspoken prophets. Once their eyes were opened, they recognized that this man, Jesus, truly was The Christ, The Messiah. Once they saw this, they could not wait to humble themselves before Him and accept Him as Messiah. As we follow the story in the book of Acts, we find this short passage in chapter 4:
Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. Acts 4:1-4
The House of Blessing Christian brothers, Same and Omar, have reported that the large group of men with whom they have been sharing the Gospel of Jesus, have now, every one of them, bowed the knee before Him, praying the sinner’s prayer, and asking Him to be Lord of their lives. The number of these men was 3,000! These men have been baptized and joined the fellowship of believers that have been meeting in the three large mosques recently turned into Christian churches.
But, then as the late world famous news caster, Paul Harvey used to say, “Now here is the rest of the story…” Omar and Same, as well as a number of other HOB brethren, continued preaching about Jesus, the true Messiah…the Lamb of God, the Final Sacrifice. Would you be shocked to hear that another 2,000 became believers and followers of Messiah Jesus in the last two days? What was it that we just read in Acts 4:4?
However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
As incredible and unlikely as it sounds—especially for that part of the world today, the event that so many Christians have read about in the book of Acts for many years, has just happened again! This is not to say that God is not doing amazing things in other parts of the world today, I just find it uncanny that the same number of men were reached during an evangelistic outreach to those of the Muslim peoples who are searching for Truth as it happened almost 2,000 years ago among the masses gathered in Jerusalem—who also were searching for Truth. God is amazing!
The early Church literally exploded with new converts after the Day of Pentecost. The power of the Holy Spirit speaking through the apostles was almost irresistible. That is what is happening again at the close of this age. We are very, very close to the second coming of the Messiah and once again, the power of the Spirit speaking through His chosen vessels is hard to resist. People want Truth, and it is being given to them with great anointing from the Spirit of God.
All of this has happened while the threats of greater war continue in Syria. The powerful pro-Iran Badr Brigades are entering Syria. According to reports, this Iranian militia will tilt the Syrian war in Iran’s favor, with alarming ramifications for the United States, Israel, and Jordan. Military and intelligence sources report that the Badr Brigades breached the Iraqi-Syrian border this week on orders of Al Quds chief General Qassem Soleimani. This opened Iran’s coveted overland corridor through Iraq to Syria. The Badr Brigades, estimated at between 30,000 to 50,000 strong, are a force not to be ignored. According to Debka Files military sources, the Badr Brigades consist of special forces, tank, mechanized infantry, artillery and anti-aircraft units. Their entry into Syria could raise the total of pro-Iranian Shiite forces fighting in Syria to 80,000 to 100,000 troops. This raises a serious challenge to the US, Jordanian, and Israeli forces, especially where the borders of Jordan, Syria, and Iraq meet. This, of course, complicates the missionary work of the House of Blessing as well.
I remember when this project began with the House of Blessing taking 1,800 Bibles into northern Jordan, one of the most difficult enemies that the missionaries were confronted with were Iranian soldiers. There were dozens of Christian martyrs within the first two weeks, and this loss of missionary lives has continued ever since. Yet, the Kingdom of God has gained week after week, year after year, until, even though there is no exact number, there have been many hundreds of thousands of souls reached in the last five years through the work of the HOB missionaries. This was not something accomplished by a small missionary organization, but by God Himself. All of the glory belongs to Him, and Him alone!
Is it not amazing that, through the preaching of God’s Word, a man’s eternal destiny is changed? Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say about this very thing:
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21
This same message has been bringing souls into the Kingdom of God for almost 2,000 years. It has never lost its power; in fact, the harvest of souls is growing exponentially here at the end of the age.
The situation in northern Syria, although changing all of the time, is still desperate. Mufidah and the Widow Sisterhood continue their work, regardless of the situation on the ground. There are always more injured, always more desperation, always more people looking for Truth. The soldiers of Muhammad show how much hatred is behind his teachings in the Qu’ran and the Islamic traditions. A large number of Muslim people recognize this very thing and are looking for anything that is an alternative to what they have heard all of their lives. The Christian missionaries are presenting to them an alternative that is hard to resist.
As most readers already know, the battle for Mosul has taken much longer than the coalition ever expected. And, no one would have expected the death toll that this conflict has cost. About 700,000 have managed to escape the city but about 200,000 are still trapped. Verified reports give accounts of groups of people trying to escape but being shot in their attempt. Many times there are 50 or more dead bodies littering the routes people have used to try to escape. The situation there could not be more desperate than it is today.
In spite of this however, Akram and Mustafa report that 950 souls were reached in just the last few days. At the same time, 220 innocents were lost, a large number of them new believers or HOB missionaries. The 55 remaining former ISIS captive women, along with Sister Miriam and her helpers, who had been moved closer to where Sister Fatima is located, have been moved back to the Mosul area to help with the work of the ministry there. The situation there is very desperate, with many dying of starvation, disease, or wrong medications. The dead are lying exposed and, as happens so often, the HOB missionaries will try to find a tractor to get the bodies buried to avoid cholera and other deadly diseases.
In the Fallujah area, Adel reports that they were able to reach another 270 souls since the last update, each of whom prayed the sinner’s prayer and were baptized as the Scriptures instruct. Tragically, another 16 missionaries lost their lives.
Other reports have come in telling of 17 new believers in Jesus in western Iran and 120 in the Kurdistan area. The work goes on in every area. The Lord has answered prayer and this Ramadan 2017 is proving to be a huge harvest of souls. Sarah has had very large crowds, the special 12 that Pastor R has trained are having many doors opened for them by the Lord. They have been blessed with about 420 souls in the last three-four days.
One very special thing that the HOB missionaries have experienced is an unusually bright light coming from the moon for a few days. Pastor R has described it as nothing he has ever seen before. It was so bright that the people could read their Bibles all hours of the night without any other light source. It became a special blessing as it made the night-time witnessing much easier. Multitudes were reached during these hours. Curiously, at the same time, we in Central Oregon noticed only a typical crescent moon overhead. God is good!!
In closing, I again ask you for intercessory prayers for these loyal and brave missionaries. Each one of them faces death every single hour of the day. The situation in all areas is very desperate. In fact, the huge communion services that the entire HOB Christian community looks forward to every single week could not be carried on as usual because they have completely run out of supplies though Pastor R distributes the available funds as wisely as he can. There are at least 12,000 that gather in six different locations for communion, singing, and generally celebrating the Lord’s presence. There are of course also the untold number of smaller gatherings. Additionally, there is of course also a great need for more Bibles. We will continue to bring these needs boldly to the throne of the Lord of the harvest. God answers prayer!
Thank you all for your loyal prayer support and also financial help. I wonder quite often if this is the last Ramadan before the Lord calls all of His family home. Today is the day of salvation, and today is the day to do whatever we are going to do to help these missionaries who live for one thing only, more souls…
Forever in His Service,