As I was enjoying my morning quiet time with the Lord a few days ago, I thought back to the many testimonies shared with me, many of which I’ve been privileged to put to paper. These testimonies are from Muslim sheikhs, imams, and an unknown number of refugees who have come to experience the glorious freedom and release from the weight of sin through the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. There is a passage in 1 Peter that describes the joy experienced by those set free:
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9
After my graduation from Bible College in 1969. God saw fit to place me in the San Francisco Bay area near the beginning of the “The Jesus Movement.” This movement began in 1967 with the “summer of love” as 75,000-100,000 hippies descended on a 25 block area in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. These, mostly young, counter culture people — were searching for the meaning of life in all the wrong places, but God found them and they responded by the thousands. The revival quickly spread to southern California and then on to much of the Western World. As most of you probably know, Pastor Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, was instrumental in seeing the Jesus movement produced into a motion picture, titled “The Jesus Revolution.” It was God’s timing in His call on my life to be placed in the Bay Area at such a momentous time. I served as associate under a pastor who sensed the heart of God and His love for these “wandering sheep.” He was led by the Lord to open the doors of the church wide for as many as would come. And…come they did! It was a privilege to be able to work with several half-way houses in which young people came to find their way from their old destructive life of drugs, homosexuality, a variety of eastern cult religions, many of them possessed due to their involvement with the occult, and much, much more. In time, I got to know many of them in a very personal way as they began to attend a college class I was teaching in the church. I must say, it was a humbling experience. I learned so much from these people due to their past experiences and the great joy they had because of their new relationship with Jesus.
One thing that was impossible to miss was the joyful exuberance they expressed. Many of us raised in the church in the West, tend to take our relationship with the Lord and the freedom we have in Him for granted. These folks, however, did not take their freedom for granted. They knew from what they had been set free! Pastor R has described the same phenomenon among Muslim people when their eyes are opened to truths found in the Bible. I heard it myself when I have had the privilege of speaking to a few of them over the phone. This joy is especially true among the many Muslim sheikhs who have become believers in the last few years. One can see the same obvious joy and freedom in photos taken of new believers being baptized who had been ISIS militants — many of them for years. These are men who have been set free from unspeakable atrocities in their past by the powerful Blood of Jesus. A comment heard quite often in testimonies by some of the militants is, “I have been taught wrong my entire life!” It was Jesus who said:
“…and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
“Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!” John 8:36
I have several devotionals that I pick from in the mornings and one of them is “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn. A small portion of a devotional from a few days ago ties in with today’s update and reads like this:
“Imagine if we lived in a world where everything was night, a world where we could never see the blue of the sky, the yellow of the sun, the green of grass and trees. Imagine we could barely see each other. Now imagine that something takes place in this world that has never happened before…a sunrise. What would it be like? It would be amazing. Indescribable!
For the first time in our lives, the black sky begins to transform, subtly changing its color, the first hints of dawn. Then come the first orange yellow rays of daybreak…and then the circle of blazing light rising up from the horizon as if floating on nothing, and our entire world is transformed. For the first time we see everything in vivid color and clarity…It would be a miracle, a miracle as dramatic and as amazing to our world as the parting of the Red Sea. But the miracle has happened…The miracle happens every day…”
The description of this “miracle” is not unlike the miracle experienced by folks who have been enlightened to a Truth that can change their eternal destiny…a Truth they have never known. The realization of the freedom and new life through the power of the Blood of Jesus to wipe away every sin and stain brings great joy to those that recognize the significance of what they have been given. They have won the lottery, but not of money, but rather eternal life!
This is how one could explain the ministry of the House of Blessing. The assurance of forgiveness of sin is something that can only be achieved through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who takes our sins and doesn’t just cover them, as was done through the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, but completely eradicates them. Psalm 103:12 says that God has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west!
It has been a bit longer between updates at the time of this writing than usual, but the HOB missionaries’ work of evangelism has continued and much has come about since the last update. Readers might remember that during the Islamic “Eid al Adha” observance at the end of June this year, a number of mosques had been approached with the Good News of the Gospel. There was minimal acceptance by the leadership of most of the 30 mosques visited. Seed was planted, however. Now, some of that seed is beginning to bear fruit. I previously shared the story of twelve Muslim men who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior as a result of the missionaries who shared with them during the days of the observance. Pastor R told me that all the men’s wives have now accepted Jesus, as have three additional women who are close friends with the wives. Additionally, 65 children have been brought to Jesus, 40 boys and 25 girls. The HOB missionary women are now busy teaching the wives and children all about Jesus and what it means to be a believer and follower of Christ. The men are continuing to be mentored so that they can become effective witnesses of the power of God to transform lives to those they come in contact with.
There is also an additional series of miracles that have come about. Ten head sheikhs (imams) have also become believers and followers of Jesus. These men are also a part of the harvest coming from the evangelism during the Eid al Adha observance. Praise God. All ten of these men have great influence over the people that they oversee. I suspect that there will be a great harvest of souls due to the testimonies of these influential men. Praise God!
Throughout the years that I’ve written the Mideast Updates for the House of Blessing, folks all around the world have been praying for and supporting this underground ministry. We find examples of support much like this in the Apostle Paul’s request from the more affluent Gentile churches to raise up funds for the church in Jerusalem, which was suffering from great needs. Many readers have also taken it upon themselves to pray for many of the individuals mentioned in the updates, and only God knows how many things have changed due to the earnest prayers of God’s people. Please don’t stop! The harvest truly is great!
Since the last update about three weeks ago, the limited reports that Pastor R received reveal that at least 2,300 family tents were visited. The people were given the special medicinal Oregano tea mixture and the Good News about Jesus was shared with them. Most ask for prayer and all that asked were prayed for. Many of these have become believers as a result. God is good. As has always been the case, the missionaries help the folks bury their dead, at least 40 in the past three weeks. These 40 succumbed to cholera, the flu, viruses, or any number of other illnesses that plague the refugees.
Communion services continue to be held in one refugee camp after another. Between 40 and 45 gather together for communion each time it is offered. The teams that go out have five communion services each day as they move from one location to another. These believers who are scattered throughout the many camps are greatly blessed by the communion services and the praise and worship which is always an important part of the celebration.
The needs are of course great. The weather is still very hot in the Mideast but soon the weather will cool and winter will again present its challenges for these folks. Let’s continue keeping them in our prayers. This of course includes Pastor R who continues to have health struggles. But, as always, he never complains! He knows God will sustain him, no matter what. But, we should continue to hold him up in prayer as we have for many years. God answers….always in His own perfect way and time.
Thank you all!
Forever in His Service,