Just before sharing the latest call from Pastor R, I would like to refer to a passage of Scripture found in the fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians the Living Bible.
7 But this precious treasure — this light and power that now shine within us — is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own. 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. 9 We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 10 These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did, so it is clear to all that it is only the living Christ within (who keeps us safe). 11 Yes, we live under constant danger to our lives because we serve the Lord, but this gives us constant opportunities to show forth the power of Jesus Christ within our dying bodies. Because of our preaching we face death, but it has resulted in eternal life for you. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
According to historical records, the ancients kept important or valuable items in clay pots. The pots themselves were subject to damage by chipping, cracking, or even being broken. It is the same with us as believers and followers of Jesus Christ. We also are easily hurt, damaged, and can even be killed, but what we carry within is of the highest value. We, the messengers, are in clay pots that wear out and eventually die. But the message we carry is one of the love of God that has provided a free gift of salvation and eternal life.
The great Apostle Paul ran into trouble wherever he showed his face. Right after his conversion, while still in Damascus, he was attacked. When he traveled to Jerusalem, he was attacked again. When he took the Good News message on the road, he was stoned in Lystra. When he went to Ephesus, he was faced with a violent riot. In Philippi he was severely beaten, thrown in jail and put in stocks. When he was confined in Rome, he wrote to the Philippians and told them that all his sufferings were for the furtherance of the Gospel. While chained in the Roman jail, he was able to preach to prisoners as well as the prison guards to whom he was chained. Even many of those in Caesar’s household were brought to Christ.
Not all followers of Christ go through these things, but many do. This has been the story, thousands of times over, for the House of Blessing missionaries over the years. I received a call from Pastor R a few days ago, telling me news about Sister Mufiedah which is difficult to relay. She was walking to get water to bring back to her tent when she was abducted by five militants. They took her to an undisclosed location and all five of the men brutally abused and raped her. They did not kill her but left her in very poor condition. Many of the missionary women have gone through terrible things, but having to go through this kind of degrading brutality is arguably the worst — not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Mufiedah is in a lot of pain and is of course humiliated beyond the understanding of those who have not experienced the same horror. One blessing at least is that Sister Sarah, who has had the same experience, is with Mufiedah and ministering to her. Other missionary women are of course also there to support her in any way needed. Please pray for her healing, comfort, and encouragement. Only the Lord can heal wounds that go so deep in a person’s soul. It will take time, but I believe the Lord will restore Mufiedah and she’ll be back out on the front lines again.
Many of the things we go through are anything but minor at the time we experience them. And, a brutal rape is not something we can ever minimize, but when we look back at this short time we have lived in this 3-dimensional fallen world, we will have a different perspective, an eternal perspective. Pain will be no more and the time of tears will have passed. As we look again in 2 Corinthians 4, we find encouragement despite any circumstance.
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. 17 These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest upon us forever and e3ver! 18 So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Sister Mufiedah has gone through a great deal while ministering the love of God, as have many other HOB missionaries. Multiplied thousands have paid the ultimate price and were murdered for sharing their faith in Jesus Christ. They have joined the multiplied millions under the altar before God’s Throne. That is where Mufiedah’s husband Nabil is. One day very soon, all of us who are believers and followers of our Messiah Jesus will be gathered together before the One who loved us so much that He gave His life as a sacrifice for our eternal freedom.
Pastor R told me that the bombing in Idlib mentioned in my previous update, killed 11 (5 of them were believers) and injured an additional 21 (8 of the 21 were believers). The injured are still being cared for and need our prayers for healing.
Over the Eid al-Adha observance, about 30 accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord. As these men now had no need of sacrificial animals, they donated twenty goats (some lambs) to the House of Blessing to help raise needed funds. Each animal was worth about $400 American dollars. This made it possible for HOB to purchase two truckloads of wheat to distribute among the refugees. HOB was also able to purchase 200 Bibles to distribute among the new believers.
Between the different teams of missionaries visiting families from tent to tent in multiple refugee camps, about 2,900 families were visited. Each one was provided some wheat to make bread and HOB’s special Oregano tea mixture. As usual, each family heard the Good News of the Gospel and those requesting prayer were prayed with. Many of these families have accepted Jesus as their Messiah and Lord in the past and just needed prayer for encouragement. Refugee life is not easy. Most of these families are quite large and they have to squeeze into tents that are not nearly large enough for them. It is hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Pastor R continues to pray with the HOB leaders and anyone else who seeks him out. The prayer of the HOB missionaries is that they can come up with enough funds to purchase an additional 1800 Bibles to distribute.
As we near the Lord’s return, more and more Muslim people are seeing the contrast between the message of God’s love and Muhammad’s harsh, hopeless message presented in the Quran. Although the cost has been high and has cost the lives of many of HOB’s missionaries, the harvest of souls has been enormous. One of these days, the number of souls that only God knows, will be reached. Soon and very soon!
There is a principle that we learn from 2 Corinthians 4. It is death that produces life. This is why in verse 12 the Apostle Paul said that he said:
“Because of our preaching we face death, but it has resulted in eternal life for you.”
Then in verse 15:
“These sufferings of ours are for your benefit. And the more of you who are won to Christ, the more there are to thank him for his great kindness, and the more the Lord is glorified, that is why we never give up, though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day.”
I will close with the first two verses of 2 Corinthians 5:
1 For we know that when this tent we live in now is taken down — when we die and leave these bodies — we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forevermore, made for us by God himself, and not by human hands. 2 How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies which we shall put on like new clothes. 2 Corinthians 5:1-2
Forever in His Service,