It goes without saying that for most of us, it is nearly impossible to picture for ourselves what the conditions really are where many missionaries serve in today’s world. This is certainly the case with the House of Blessing missionaries. The circumstances vary from place to place across the Middle East, but there are some constants. Every day is filled with danger and it is impossible to know which day might prove to be a missionary’s last day on this earth.
Since I started writing these updates over six years ago, the House of Blessing has lost multiplied hundreds of its missionaries. Although I don’t have an accurate figure, I am certain the number of HOB missionaries who were martyred is now easily over 3,000. Yet the House of Blessing continues bringing more souls into the Kingdom of God. Large numbers of these converts then commit themselves to the HOB School of Ministry and after intensive training, they join the army of missionary evangelists who are in the field. As one falls, there are several more to step up and take their place. This is the story once again this past week.
In the last couple updates I described how thousands of refugees were uprooted from their homes in the Daraa region and began to travel the road to stay ahead of the unfolding violence and infrastructure destruction. Because Daraa is so far into southern Syria, it was not long until a huge mass of people were at the Jordanian border. As was reported in the last update, the Jordanian authorities denied access for additional refugees to the unofficial number of 1.3 million already within the nation’s borders. As an increasing number arrived at the border of Israel, they also were not allowed to cross over into Israel territory. Israel knows that they would find it nearly impossible to prevent terrorists from slipping into Israel if they opened their borders to refugees. However, both Israel and Jordan have made emergency supplies available to the tens of thousands massed on the borders. Israel has also made emergency medical help available, including for injured Syrian soldiers.
With the Syrian regime once again gaining control over Daraa, many have begun returning to their homes…although an untold number are returning to piles of rubble where their homes once stood. The House of Blessing missionaries who made themselves available in the Daraa area went with two purposes in mind. One was to alleviate as much misery and pain as possibly but their greater goal was to reach as many with the Gospel as possible while the doors of harvest are still open.
Three of the leaders, Omar, Radi, and Naquib were able to preach and pray 820 people into the Kingdom of God in the last few days. Each of these who prayed the sinner’s prayer was put into a small group of believers. As Omar, Radi, and Naquib were gathered with these people on Wednesday, July 11, and as they were making arrangements for each to meet with their small groups, a group of Islamic militants attacked the group using machine guns. They shot and killed 17 and injured an untold additional number. Tragically, among the injured were the three HOB leaders, Omar, Radi, and Naquib. Both Omar and Radi were wounded in their arms and Naquib to his legs. Sister Mufiedah was immediately contacted and she was able to get to the men in person and attend to their injuries as she has for so many hundreds in the last few years. She has reported that they are going to be okay but has asked that we lift them up to the Lord in prayer for His complete healing. For regular readers of this blog, you are aware that for brother Omar, this is not the first time he has been injured by machine gun fire. Many of the HOB missionaries have endured serious injuries due to these attempts on their lives.
It turns out that the militants that attacked this meeting belonged to ISIS. Most people have thought that ISIS, or Daesh as it is called in the Middle East, was no longer existent, but there are multiple reports of there being at least 30,000 ISIS militants still active. There are a number of them located in the Daraa region and other locations close in proximity to the Israel border. The Israel Defence Forces are quite aware of their ongoing presence.
In spite of the attack on brother Omar’s gathering, Sister Sarah and her helpers had their own mass gathering of people to hear the Gospel. Upwards of 650 of these also became believers in Yeshua. These are also being funneled into small groupings so that they can begin learning some of the truths they have never heard found in The Greatest Story Ever Told, the Bible.
Pastor R also mentioned that in addition to treating those injured in brother Omar’s meeting, Mufiedah, Fatwa, and the Widow Sisterhood treated and ministered healing to an additional 70 war injured. Again, as seems to happen every time, each of these individuals also becomes a believer in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
Reports also came in that communion services have continued in many locations. Sisters Hafezah and Ferial once again gathered with well over 1,000 this past week. Thet report great times of singing, praise, worship, and varied healings during their multiple hours of celebration and refreshing as the Holy Spirit moves in their midst. God is good!
There was an additional report of tragedy in the last few days besides the attack on brother Omar’s gathering. Readers might remember the military clashes in the past in the Deir ez-Zor governorate of Syria. Deir ez-Zor is one of Syria’s 14 provinces and is located on Syria’s eastern border with Iraq. The estimated population of this province in 2011 was about 1.25 million. I am sure that is not an accurate number today. Apparently there are new hostilities, or a break-out of old clashes. House of Blessing missionaries are located in the area and as a result of the renewed fighting, eight of HOB’s missionaries were killed when in a place that was bombed.
I’m afraid it is too easy for us to see these stories as little more than sad statistics–especially when we are halfway around the world. The Bible however reminds us that they are our brethren. I was reminded of this when reading in 2 Timothy this morning. Here is what the Apostle Paul shared with Timothy:
Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…For this reason I also suffer these things, nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1:8-9, 12
Our brethren in the Middle East suffer things that most of us in the West have not seen. We must be thankful that we have not been put in that place, but there is a great danger today that the prevailing spiritual slumber in much of the Church will only be awoken by our religious freedom being taken from us. Too many of us take it for granted!
In continuation of this update, Pastor R told me that a number of HOB missionaries are still burying as many dead as they can. Because it is an expense that cannot be covered by HOB at this time, the missionaries have opted not to rent a tractor and are doing all the burying by hand. They buried 62 bodies in the last few days.
I asked Pastor R how he is doing with his health. He of course says very little about himself but did say that the Lord continues to sustain him. He, along with a team of at least 25 missionaries continues to pray for between 400-500 people per day.
In conclusion, I would like to leave another passage with you out of 2 Timothy that I was studying this morning. This is found in the second chapter.
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier…Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory, This is a faithful saying: ‘For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful, He cannot deny Himself.’ Remind them of these things…” 2 Timothy 2:1-4, 10-14a
Our Messiah, who gave His life to set us free from sin and provided for our eternal life, asks all of us to be strong, not just the missionaries we read about in these updates. All of us need to discipline ourselves throughout this very short earthly sojourn, so that we are not unnecessarily tangled up in its complications so that we don’t have the time or resources to be of any value in what God is doing on this earth today. We must live with Him, endure with Him, and be faithful to Him…first in this life, then, throughout eternity! What an awesome privilege it is to be allowed to be involved in what our God is doing in these very last few moments of this age! God chose you and me to be on this earth today!
I again want to thank everyone for your prayers and faithful support for the House of Blessing. It is your gifts that provide Arabic Bibles, medicines, truckloads of wheat sacks, and so much more. And it is your earnest intercession that is bringing lost souls into the Kingdom of God, and they are coming in by the thousands every single passing week. Today, we are looking forward to our Lord’s call HOME, but very, very soon we will be looking backward in time and the Lord will be blessing us for our love for Him and our faithfulness to the leading of His Spirit while still on this side! We’re almost there, folks!
Forever in His Service,
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