Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in anyu way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from god. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Like so many of the stories coming directly from the front lines of the missionary work of the House of Blessing over the years, today’s first account is a continuation of something that started weeks ago. What began with the attack on Pastor R, Youssef, and Rahdi continues to unfold week after week. As you will remember, both Youssef and Rahdi eventually were shot to death for their faith by the same Hezbollah group that initially had attacked them, leading to them having to go to the hospital for a few days. Within days their wives and children were abducted by the same men. As they were being searched for, the families of both widows were brought to a salvation experience with Jesus.
The next episode was the story of how two of the Hezbollah militants, Mustafa and Ali, who were sent to kill Omar and Sami, were part of the same group of Hezbollah militants that had shot Youssef and Rahdi to death, although they weren’t the shooters. They had also been part of the large group of militants that had abducted the widows and their children but had not participated in the their abuse and murder. They however knew where they had been buried. It was when these two men were sent to kill Omar and Sami that they were overcome by seeing the love of God in action that they broke. They fell to their knees, repented of their sins and became followers of Jesus.
A few days after becoming believers, Mustafa and Ali asked if Omar and Sami would be willing to go with them to share Jesus with a few of their friends. They agreed and so left on the six hour journey it would take to get there.
When they arrived, Mustafa and Ali began to share their testimony with their friends who, incidentally, were active Hezbollah soldiers. The more they shared about Jesus, the angrier the seven men became. Mustafa told them they should take a good look at the life they were leading and decide for themselves if it was really worth it. What do they really get out of torturing and killing people? Nothing! They encouraged them to hear Omar and Sami out. If they did, they would find they didn’t need their weapons anymore and would throw them away and become followers of Jesus also.
This finally caused the militants to become so angry that they began to savagely beat Omar and Sami. There was nothing Mustafa and Ali could do to stop them. Finally, after beating them horribly, Omar and Sami were thrown into a small cave nearby and their hands and feet tied up. They were then threatened and told if they did not repent of their belief in Jesus, they would not leave the cave alive. Of course, Omar and Sami were not about to deny Jesus, no matter what happened.
The next thing they knew, the militants brought in a poisonous snake, turned it loose near the missionaries, and left. Omar and Sami began to pray a powerful prayer and commanded the snake in the Name of Jesus to leave the cave…and it slithered out, as commanded!!
Two hours later, the militants came back and turned a vicious dog loose in the cave. Once again, Omar and Sami prayed as they did the time before, this time, commanding the dog to lie down and go to sleep. Once again, God heard their prayer and spared them.
The next morning, the militants found them still alive and asked Omar why they thought they, committed soldiers of Allah and his prophet, would even consider changing their beliefs. As Omar answered, one of the seven militants got so angry he raised his machine gun and pointed it at Omar. Once again Omar and Sami began to pray and in Jesus Name told the man with the machine gun to STOP. The man’s hand and arm froze into place and it caused such extreme pain that he cried out for Omar and Sami to please help him! As Omar and Sami prayed, God gradually released the man’s hand and arm and he put his machine gun down on the ground, totally stunned.
After these three demonstrations of the power of God that all seven of Mustafa and Ali’s soldier friends witnessed, they gave in and asked to be introduced to the God Omar and Sami told them of. After praying the sinner’s prayer with them, they asked if they could be taught to know God as Omar and Sami knew Him. So, while trying to recuperate a bit from the beatings they had received the night before, they spent the next hours giving the men an introduction to what the life of a Christ follower is all about. The next thing they did was all go to share with their families what had just happened and Pastor R reports that each entire family of the seven now ex-Hezbollah militants accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior as well. What a miracle of God’s grace and mercy!
On to the next story…
War in the middle east has taken many forms. From military personnel and weaponry from many of the major powers in the world in the middle east today as well as the unending sectarian violence contributing to starvation, illness, much injury and death among the civilians, the ever present chaos is mind-numbing. As HOB missionaries Adel and Abed were ministering to refugees by praying for them and sharing the special tea mixture that has proven so effective for virus and flu victims, they happened across seven ISIS (Daesh) militants who had been badly shot up. These men had multiple gunshot wounds and other injuries which would soon likely lead to death if intervention was not found.
As Adel and Abed came up to them, the injured men raised their machine guns and demanded help. One of the missionaries told them if they wanted help they would have to put their guns down first. Looking at their condition, he said, they could die any minute and what good would it do for them to shoot the only possible help available? So, when they set their guns down, the missionaries began the very difficult task of removing bullets, shrapnel, and whatever else had caused their injuries. Keep in mind, there is no anesthesia available and so victims are given a thick stick to bite down on while openings are carefully cut with a sharp disinfected knife in order to access the bullets or shrapnel needing removal. After the removal, the wounds are cauterized with a hot fire that has already been prepared for the purpose. As one can imagine, both the removal of the bullets and the cauterizing of the wounds is extremely painful and of course the danger to the missionaries is extreme–especially when dealing with terrorists who see no value to the life of an “infidel’s” and wouldn’t think twice before killing them.
Even with the help that Adel and Abed had from missionaries who had been ministering with them, the process took several hours. There was a lot of screaming from the pain and of course the threats, but, the wounds of all seven men had been cleared and closed up. Adel and Abed then preached to the men, telling them that there was no guarantee that they would live or die. They needed to repent now, just in case they were not to survive!
In time, the militants realized that Adel and Abed were telling them about a God that was real and had loved them enough to provide forgiveness for their sins through the Blood of the one and only Messiah that could do so. And, the assurance of eternity in God’s heaven was also given—if they truly believed in Him, repented of their sins, and allowed Him Lordship of their lives. At that point, Abed and Adel prayed the sinner’s prayer with all seven men and spent the next few hours sharing with them what the life of a Christ-follower is all about. They then told the men that they had a friend who had some Bible classes in process for several hundred men who had also belonged to ISIS and were now believers. Adel promised them that he would arrange for them to join these classes and they would be provided for until they completed their studies.
Here again we see a tremendous miracle was brought about. I’m sure the reader realizes that there are a great many details in and around stories like the two above, but, without being able to speak with the actual people in person, I can only make the best of the basic sketch I have to go by. Pastor R does the best he can in relaying the basic information so that you, the reader, can be kept informed of what is happening from week to week.
As you can see, your prayers are much needed and appreciated by the House of Blessing missionaries because our God answers prayer. You never know if it is your prayer at a specific time that might just bring the supernatural intervention needed in one of these situations. The few stories I am able to pass on are just samples of the many things going on throughout the HOB communities of believers across the mideast. The last I heard the House of Blessing has a minimum of 2,000 active missionaries plus an unknown number of volunteers.
During the same time as the isolated stories above, the work of the HOB missionaries continued as always. Reports came in to Pastor R of dozens and dozens of entire families reached with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus. As it is possible, food sacks, Bibles, medicines and other supplies are shared with the needy. This always opens the door wide to share the Gospel.
Pastor R has been blessed with the hospital he is in. He has been given a larger room so that he can meet with people as needed. He has many visitors for prayer and he is able to have meetings with HOB leaders. The hospital seems to be experiencing blessing with the presence of the Lord that is within its walls that most of them probably don’t even recognize. But, as the two nurses who found Jesus recently, more of the staff will also.
In conclusion, one last item. The yearly Hajj dates are between July 18-23 in 2021. The most important holiday is called the Eid-al-Adha and will be observed on July 20. This is the most important holiday on the Muslim calendar and Muslims celebrate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. Of course, Muslims have been taught for centuries that this was Ishmael and not Isaac as the Biblical account says. The House of Blessing missionaries have always found this to be a very fruitful time to share the Good News. There have been accounts in abundance of Muslim people finding that through the Blood of Jesus, no sacrifice is necessary for their forgiveness. A great many sheikhs on the way to the hajj have found Jesus along the way, recognized Him as the true Savior of the world, and went back home to share the good news with their families and friends.
The House of Blessing is believing for the resources to purchase a couple truckloads of wheat sacks and 1,000 Bibles to give to new believers during this time. Pray with us!
Thank you all for your faithfulness in prayer and support for this work in God’s harvest field.
Forever in His Service,