In my morning devotion time yesterday I was reading in Philippians. I would like to include a portion at the beginning of today’s Mideast Update:
But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear…Philippians 1:12-14
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. Philippians 1:19-26
Whether we as Christ-followers find ourselves “in chains” for our belief in Jesus, or whether our testimony has brought us under the persecution of the enemies of our Master, we can know that we are never left alone. God’s promise to us was that He would never leave us or forsake us, no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in.
This is a promise that every House of Blessing missionary puts their faith in. Readers will remember many who have been kidnapped and never heard from again. Others were abducted and managed to escape, sometimes many months later. This is a good time to remember that we should not stop praying for these that have disappeared, even if we think they may be dead. If God doesn’t stop us, we should continue lifting them to the Lord.
God has promised that He will never allow more to be put upon us than what we are able to bear. We often feel like we have been pushed to the absolute limit; if we don’t recognize it at the time, we always recognize later how close our God was walking with us during the hard things we went through. God takes the things that the enemy has intended for evil and uses them to His own glory. In the end, all things will be completed just as God planned.
Pastor R, as we all know by now, had another serious brush with death, but God had no intention of him coming Home yet! Work still needs to be done, and just as we read in the second part of the passage of Scripture from Philippians 1, he also would very much have been happy to go home! When I received his first call after he had been savagely beaten and left to die, he believed it was the last time he and I would speak on this side of eternity. God, however, had another plan!
Pastor R’s condition continues to improve but, as of the last call I received, he has not been released from the hospital. He is quite anxious to be released so that he can get back to the work he has been called to. He has asked that we pray for a soon release. He also asked for prayer for his ribs which are still giving him considerable trouble. As most know, not much can be done for broken or cracked ribs. They can only be wrapped tight and then allow the healing to happen in its own time. Pastor R is asking the Lord to speed that process up, and I believe God will answer that prayer!
Although the mainstream news says little about it, the conditions in Syria continue to deteriorate. Even though it appears that ISIS continues to be systematically attacked and many of their terrorist army members killed, they are still a major force to reckon with. They now appear to have their tentacles spread in many nations around the world, including within all fifty of the American States. The problem in Syria however is much greater than just ISIS. Syria continues to be soil that has become the host for a major proxy war between Russian, its allies, and the West. The ones being hurt the most are the innocents that just happen to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thousands continue to be killed by the bombings, missiles, artillery, chemical weapons, and of course, always, Islamists who consider it a command from their god to torture, rape, and murder anyone who does not fall in line with their barbaric belief system. I am reminded of what Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s own words.
In northern Syria, particularly in Aleppo and the surrounding areas, the bombing continues to be intense. The battles between the the opposing sides now have over 400,000 surrounded. At least 100,000 are beginning to starve. Supplies are not getting through. Even though there is word of several corridors being opened for people to use as escape routes, the numbers actually using them are minimal, considering how many people would like to escape. It is said that amnesty is offered for the opposition to Assad’s regime if they turn themselves in, also in these corridors, but few trust the offers not to be a trap.
Yet, as it has continued week after week, the missionaries continue reaching as many with the Gospel of Yeshua as possible. Because of the extreme circumstances of war, most of the HOB missionaries have not slept in many days. But, hundreds are becoming believers every week and this last week, there were 1,800 who asked Yeshua to be their Lord and Master!
Sister Mufiedah and her Widow Sisterhood continue ministering to the badly injured. Every single one they treat listen as they are told the true story about Jesus Christ, which is much different than the Islamic version. These then all enthusiastically pray the sinner’s prayer. Many of these people are healed. Many, however, die due to the seriousness of their injuries. At last count this week, 85 had been ministered to but 24 died. I have included many photos of the destruction in these updates, but it is still hard to fathom what it is really like. It is also hard for us in the West to really see the great dangers the people are facing, especially the Christian missionaries.
The HOB missionaries have taken great losses in Syria this last week. At the first call I received, thirty families of believers had been killed. Then there are all the other innocents who happen to be where the bombs and missiles hit. In subsequent calls, I found out about more yet. Many children are among the dead. Some of the dead have been buried, but it takes time to get them all buried.
Sister Hafezah continues to have her communion services. These special services are made available many times and during the week over 1,300 have reportedly taken part. These believers will brave any dangers in order to experience these special times of refreshing, healing, and refilling with the Holy Spirit!
Sister Sarah continues sharing with those that have lost family members. People are very encouraged by her testimony and her continued prayers for them. Many have unique experiences with the Almighty as they are prayed for.
The situation across northern Syria and Iraq continues to be very critical. As most know by now, Turkey has had two coup attempts in the last couple weeks. Politically, many changes are in the making. Bible prophecy is also being fulfilled before our very eyes, especially with what is happening in Turkey. As I write this update, all the players in the Gog and Magog war that is detailed in Ezekiel 38-39 are on the playing field. Major war is now very near.
HOB lost 18 of their missionaries in the Mosul area again. Well over 40 of the newer converts were killed as well. These are now all in the presence of Jesus and will never suffer again. There has been a plan for a major attack on Mosul for weeks now. There will be an attempt made to take the city back from ISIS. Experts warn that there may be as many as one million refugees fleeing the city. That is a catastrophic number. The HOB missionaries there are praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit as all this begins to unfold.
In the Fallujah area there have been great numbers reached with the Gospel of Jesus. Tragically, word from brother Adel is that another 15 HOB missionaries were killed there. Sister Fatima also is continuing with her communion services for the thousands of believers in the area. Typically, she and those helping her provide communion for between 1,100-1,300 at a time and in Iraq the communion services are held several times a week. The reports coming from these services are nothing less than glorious!
Some might think that these reports are exaggerated or sensationalized. If anything, the rough numbers presented were less than what really happened. We here in the West tend to judge by what we see in our own churches or where we live. Just because we are not experiencing the outpouring of God’s Spirit as they are on the front lines, does not mean that it cannot really happen there. We also are not losing people by the hundreds to war. In the West, we are not facing the persecution as the missionaries are in third world countries. God is revealing Himself to those who are seeking Him. He is not willing that any perish!
In conclusion, I again ask you to pray. Then pray again. And again, and always with earnestness. These brethren depend on our prayers, and God has been answering them, again, again, and again. HOB continues to have enormous needs. Pastor R’s hospital bill is one of them. The treatments for the 26 widows will also need to go for one more month. Then, there is always the need of Bibles…lots of Bibles. And, I can’t even imagine the supplies it takes to provide the communion with special ingredients as God has directed right at the beginning. Many thousands take this communion, many almost daily. Some gather in very large groups, others however meet in a myriad of small groups. God makes His presence known to them all! Every dollar spent is only spent after much prayer.
As always we are grateful for every prayer and every amount of support. As always, our faith is in the Lord of the harvest. God Bless you all.
In His Service,
House Of Blessing; 3206 SW 45th Street; Redmond, Oregon USA 97756