As an introduction to today’s update, I would like to refer to an Old Testament story that I believe is particularly applicable to the latest news from Pastor R and the House of Blessing.
The Old Testament has recorded within its pages the records of the kings of both Israel and Judah. The majority of the kings ended their reigns with the distinction of “having done evil in the sight of the Lord.” One of the most evil of all of the kings of the divided kingdoms was Manasseh who took the place of Hezekiah, and he went on to reign for 55 years. During that time, Manasseh clashed with a number of God’s prophets, including men like Isaiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Nahum. According to ancient Hebrew history, Manasseh had the prophet Isaiah, who was his own grandfather, put to death in a particularly painful way. He had him sawn in half in the middle of a log.
For the sake of brevity, I won’t list the many other evil things Manasseh was guilty of during his reign but I do want to direct us to a passage of scripture that details a complete and much unexpected turn-around in King Manasseh’s attitude and life. The account is found in 2 Chronicles 33:10-16:
10 And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. 11 Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. 12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him, and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. 14 After this he built a wall outside the City of David on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate; and enclosed Ophel, and he raised it to a very great height. Then he put military captains in all the fortified cities of Judah. 15 He took away the foreign gods and the idols from the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD and in Jerusalem, and he cast them out of the city. 16 He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
As I relay to you the events of these past days which Pastor R shared with me, I think you will see why I picked this passage of scripture.
Regular readers will recognize the story of how Pastor R’s assistants Youssef, Rahdi, their wives and children were murdered for their faith in Jesus the Messiah. The story has become an ongoing drama over many weeks involving both the families of the martyred missionaries and also the perpetrators. The story continues…
As the House of Blessing has once again put great effort into reaching the multitudes of Muslims observing the yearly festival culminating in Eid-al-Adha, the day of sacrifice, another kind of ‘observance’ was being carried out. As it turns out, Sister Mufiedah, along with Sarah, and Fadwa were being watched by a group of 17 Hezbollah militants. In the same area, the seven latest former Hezbollah militants who had just been reached with the Good News of the Gospel, were sharing their own personal testimonies of how they had been introduced to Messiah Jesus and how their lives had dramatically been changed.
About noontime, the observing militants grabbed the three women, as well as the seven former militants, and took them to a broken down building. Two other former militants, Mustafa and Ali, had not been caught with the others and so were able to follow at a distance to see where they were being taken. Once the 10 captives were inside the building, their captors started beating all of them. They told the missionaries that the beatings would not stop until they repented and rejected the Christian belief in Jesus Christ. As the day progressed, the beatings became increasingly severe. This continued until well into the night but then they were left under guard until morning. During that time, the missionaries prayed and said, “Lord, you see what is happening and you know what is coming. We ask you to either give us the power to defeat the enemy at what he is doing or please take us home.”
When morning arrived, two of the militants were sent with orders to strip the prisoners of all their clothing in order to humiliate them before the next wave of torture began. As it became clear what the men were going to do, the Lord spoke to Mufiedah and told her to begin praying aloud in the Spirit As she did, the militants found themselves with their hands and knees frozen in place. They began to be in such pain and agony that they cried out so loudly that the rest of the Hezbollah militants came running. As they came close, all 17 of them were hit with something they described as like electricity flowing through them, causing such a burning sensation and such severe pain that they cried out, begging for help!
Mustafa and Ali, having seen all this from a distance, were then able to get much closer for a better view of what was unfolding. Mufiedah then told the men the only way they would find relief is if they gaive in to the very God they were denying, and His name was not Allah! This One, Jesus Christ, was the one and only Creator and Lord of the universe, and it was His sacrifice of Blood that was the only source of true forgiveness.
The more Mufiedah explained to them, the softer their expressions became—although, they had not been relieved of their pain. The men then, like so many others before them, began to say that they had all committed such grievous and despicable sins, how could anyone ever forgive them–even God? What they admitted next even shocked Mufiedah. They confessed to having been the ones that had not only shot Youssef and Rahdi to death, but had also been the ones to physically abuse and rape their widows before killing them. And…they were the ones responsible for the deaths of their five little ones. As the women heard what they had to say, they began to understand why God had not released them of their painful paralysis. This confession had to be brought forth.
As the news sunk in, Mufiedah finally told the men that the Blood of Jesus was potent enough to forgive them of what they were guilty of. Not only that, He had the power to recreate them into men committed to serving God instead of the demon spirit, Allah. In time they humbled themselves and agreed they needed to turn their lives and eternal destiny over to the Lord of Heaven, the real Messiah, Jesus, and ask Him for forgiveness and to become their Lord.
It was at this point that Mufiedah, who knew Mustafa and Ali were near, called them over to help pray for the men. Since they knew of a place nearby with some water, they led them to the place and proceeded to baptize each one. As they came up after being immersed, all pain and paralysis left the men, and they were totally set free!
These men, as evil King Manasseh, were guilty of unspeakable savagery, things originating in the pit of hell. Yet, when humbling themselves before the Lord, they were able to find true forgiveness and become new creations in Christ.
In the little short book of Jude, we find these verses spoken by the half-brother of Jesus:
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction, 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Jude verses 20-23
Before the ordeal Mufiedah, Fadwa, and Sarah experienced which I detailed above, Mufiedah and the women working with her were able to reach and pray with 420 entire families. Omar and his men did the same with 650 families. Ibrahim and his missionary volunteers led 125 families to Jesus and Shahbander and Mortadah were able to bring 75 families into the Kingdom of God in Western Iran. Adel, Abed, and their helpers reached 340 families with the gospel and distributed supplies of food to them. I should mention here that the seven ISIS militants reached days ago by Adel and Abed have now led their entire families to become followers of Jesus Christ! We serve a God of miracles!
The prayer of the House of Blessing was that there would once again be a great harvest of souls during this year’s Muslim feast of Eid-al-Adha. God answered that prayer! Many families, after believing in Jesus and deciding to become His followers, reversed their course and did not follow through on their Eid-al-Adha animal sacrifice. After all, Jesus was the only sacrifice necessary for the forgiveness of sin!
Pastor R told me that the communion celebrations have continued right on through these past days. Some meet with 25 each time, five times per day. Others with 30 different people each of the five times a day they make the communion times available. As always, these are great times of fellowship, prayer and worship, and times of healing. God is good! The Lord blessed in such a way that HOB was able to purchase 2,000 Bibles and four truckloads of wheat and other food supplies. The people who received the distribution of food were truly starving to death! The multitudes were extremely grateful and of course, as always, wide open to hear the Good News of the love of God!
As for Pastor R, he is still in the hospital but has the freedom to meet with the HOB leadership at will. People are able to go in and out as needed and the hospital seems to be experiencing the blessing of the Lord as they make this freedom available. The two nurses who became believers are a great help, as are the two men that are with Pastor R 24 hours of every day. The special provisions God makes are amazing!
Thank you all for your prayers and your financial support. The work of the harvest is going ahead at full speed and it will continue until our Lord calls us all to our eternal home!
Forever in His Service,