Many Scriptures have come to mind since my last phone call from the Middle East. One is found in Isaiah 55:6-11, and this is how it reads in the NIV:
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
One thing that I have in common with the ministry team of House Of Blessing is an urgency about the hour in which we live. When Pastor R**** was finally released from the hospital, he made the Lord a promise that he would put in even more effort than before into raising up volunteer missionaries to spread the Word in the Middle East. His goal is to teach more hours per day, raise up more missionaries in less time, and reach more people now while the opportunity is still at hand.
Most in the West are not really aware of how critical the condition of our world is today. Others however, are acutely aware of the desperation that is coming over our world like a black cloud. Millions are victims of it. People need to hear the message of the Cross of Christ now while there is still time. Soon it will be too late! It is easy for most to ignore the signs of the times and think that life will go on as it has–especially if we have a relatively comfortable lifestyle. But we find warnings in God’s Word that we must prepare ourselves for the return of the Lord. That is the heart and soul drive of HOB.
With the shortness of time in mind as mentioned in the last update, the month of Ramadan, starting June 27th, is another great opportunity to reach those that are lost. The month of Ramadan has proven to be a time of great harvest in the last two years, and I know that the number of people reached with the Gospel of Jesus’ love this year will eclipse the number of people reached in the last two years. It is not the demon god Allah that is bringing a harvest, but rather, Jehovah God. God has interrupted the prayers of tens of thousands of Muslim people and some have actually experienced an appearance of Jesus. They then know full well who the Messiah really is!
God has promised in the passage in Isaiah above that His Word will never return void. It will always accomplish its purposes. This is the power of the Word. It is nothing great that any of us can do as individuals, but rather what God chooses to do through us, whether here in the United States, in the Middle East, or any other place in the world.
For those that have been watching the news coming out of the Mideast, you may have heard how Al Qaeda is in the process of carving out a new Islamic state right in the center of the Middle East. This is partly out of western Iraq, and partly out of eastern Syria. The Iraqi army has shown that it has no expectation of confronting this military force. Control has been gained over several cities in Iraq, including Mosul (ancient Nineveh) which is one of Iraq’s three largest cities. For this update, it is not important to point out all of the specific details of what is happening strategically; it is however important to point out that the work that HOB is doing in Iraq is right in the middle of the chaos. Half a million more refugees have been created in Iraq because of this push by Al Qaeda. Many missionaries have lost their lives, many since the last update. Whether Christ is shared with Shiite Muslims or Sunni Muslims, if he or she is caught, it will likely cost the life of the missionary.
For those of us still living in relative freedom, it is easy to close our eyes to what is happening in other parts of the world. Most of us are not missionaries overseas, but we’ve been called to the same task, to make Christ known in every corner of the globe, including the Middle East where HOB is committed . We need to keep those on the front lines in earnest prayer, and as God directs, aid them financially so that the job can be completed.
In a time when it is difficult to find anything safe to invest in, maybe we need to think more about investing in the Kingdom of God. This has nothing to do with church affiliation or organization. It has to do with being obedient to what God asks of us. Wealth can be lost, it can be stolen, it can become corrupt, but what is done in the Name of the Lord and in obedience to His knock on our heart, cannot be taken away from us. God keeps perfect records!
R**** told me that the Lord had reminded him of the Apostle Peter’s sermon delivered on the day of Pentecost. This was at a time when many hundreds of thousands of people were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of First Fruits. Peter stood up in front of a crowd of people and began to preach. More and more people joined the crowd and by the time it was over, there were over 3,000 new believers in Jesus, the Messiah! A couple of days later there were 2,000 more. Of course, there was tremendous persecution that came as well, and the fledgling church began to suffer very difficult things. Yet, instead of cowering in fear, the early church just got stronger and millions of people were reached with the Gospel.
Many of the volunteer missionaries are going to be doing the very same thing during this Ramadan! Many thousands of Muslims will find their Messiah. For all we know, this could turn out to be the last Ramadan we see! If not, that’s okay too. God has the timing under His sovereign control. He just asks us to “Trust and Obey”, as the old hymn says.
Before closing this update, I would like to share a quick testimony that R**** shared with me over the phone. He said that a man had sent him an anonymous message telling him that while praying for House Of Blessing, the Lord had instructed him to give $1,000 towards the purchase of more Bibles. In the message, the man then asked God to bless the thousand dollars and multiply it many, many times over. As I said, the man gave anonymously so R**** doesn’t know if he is a reader of this blog or the contact was through another source. But R**** wanted to make sure that he knows that the gift is appreciated–as every gift is. As God saw fit, this gift was then multiplied ten times over a few days ago. We serve a very big and generous God! The need this time around is huge and so we’re asking you to believe with us for God to meet the entire need, and quickly as the printing takes time, even when it is being worked on 24 hours a day. Ramadan is just around the corner and thousands of Bibles are needed to distribute to the new believers. Our belief is in our God, but God chooses to use people so that we have a part in what He is doing on this earth.
I would like to share one of my most favorite Scriptures. It is found in 2 Corinthians 9. This passage is so full of God’s promises that I will share verses 5-15:
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (NIV)
Thank you and Keep Looking Upward!