Over the years I’ve been writing the Mideast Updates for the House of Blessing, there have been many times when forgiveness was a major part of the storyline. Today, I have another brief story to share that again shows the amazing power of God’s love to bring people from the depths of sin and degradation to God’s forgiveness through the Blood of Jesus Christ. And, as Christ forgives, so must we, although circumstances sometimes don’t make that easy—especially when it is we who have endured great grief and pain.
Today’s story involves Fatima, Marian, and about 17 other women who were gathering for a communion service in Mosul, Iraq. Most of the women were inside the house but, as I understand it, Fatima was across from the house and noticed six men surrounding the home and acting strange. She quickly got the attention of some of the HOB brothers nearby and they started shouting at the men, demanding to know what they were doing. The men apparently didn’t realize they were being watched and got scared and started to run. Suddenly, one of the men blew himself up. This so shocked the other five that they just stood there stunned, looking at what had just happened.
As the HOB missionaries got closer to them, the men fell down to their knees in tears and asked not to be turned in to the authorities. The five men all had explosives on their person as well but set them on the ground and stepped back from them. They then explained that the man who had blown himself up, a man by the name of Mahmoud, had them trapped. Each of these men had families that were starving and Mahmoud had paid them each $1,000 to work for him. They soon realized it was to join him in killing the infidel Christians. They had each already taken the money and had purchased food and other necessities for their families and had no way of returning the money back to Mahmoud. Because they had such a fear of Mahmoud, and in order not to be killed themselves, they saw no way other than following through with what he demanded of them.
After explaining their predicament, the men crying, begged for forgiveness. When the missionaries told them about God’s forgiveness, they asked, “What God are you talking about? We don’t know a God who can forgive us for all the terrible things we have done.” They then gave details telling how they, along with Mahmoud, had been the ones who set explosives all around Pastor Farid’s house, killing everyone inside. Since that day, the men had not been able to sleep, nor had they had any peace. How could any God forgive such evil?
The missionaries, including several former sheikhs who were now disciples of Jesus, put their heads together and discussed what to do. The decision of course was to forgive but if they were truly sincere with their repentant attitudes, they would have to ask God for His forgiveness and turn their lives over to the control of Jesus Christ. Each of the men then prayed the sinner’s prayer, committing whatever time is left of their physical lives on this earth and all of eternity into the hands of the One who had paid the price for their sins! These five men, Amir, Samir, Saied, Ziyad, and Mflah have now been taken in by a group of former sheikhs in order to help them get established in their newfound faith. Praise God!
People sometimes wonder if violent actions as what these men were guilty of can really be forgiven so easily. Can one really trust that the repentant attitudes expressed by these men is genuine? We could ask the same question about the ISIS militants that were reached with the Gospel and then baptized. Was it real? Is God’s forgiveness that complete? One could ask the same question about the notorious rapist and killer, Ted Bundy, who became a believer in the years before his death. Dr. James Dobson interviewed Mr. Bundy within the last 17 hours before his execution, and Dr. Dobson found him to be genuine. Then there was the infamous killer and cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer. He also became a born-again Christian while in prison. God will forgive anyone, no matter the extent of their sins or their corrupt condition. The Blood of Jesus is more than sufficient to cleanse the deepest stains. I heard someone say, “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” Oswald Chambers put it this way, “Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step into the invincible future with Him.” Thank God, or we’d all be eternally lost!
Back to our story…
We do praise God for keeping this horrible act of murdering those gathering for holy communion from happening. Many lives were spared, including Sisters Fatima and Mariam. Why Pastor Farid and his family were not spared, we don’t know. We do know that God takes care of His own and they will not be taken before their time. Apparently it was God’s time for Farid, his wife, seven grown children and one other person in the house at the time to be ushered into the Lord’s presence. They are now part of the immense cloud of witnesses Hebrews 12 speaks of. Verses 1-2 reads:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In other areas, the work of evangelism continues 24/7. The stories of the stunning healing miracle of the 7 year old twin boys, and Pastor R’s being brought back from the dead are continuing to be told from person to person. Many people are coming out of curiosity to hear more, and of course, many are coming because of their own need for the healing power of God. The harvest truly is very great!
Pastor R and his two assistants, Raddi and Youssef continue praying for hundreds of people almost on a daily basis. Sisters Mufiedah, Sarah, Fadwa, and their many helpers including many of the Widow Sisterhood continue to go from tent to tent, building to building, sharing the Good News of Jesus and the power of His Blood to forgive sin.
All other ministry teams scattered all across the Mideast and even into Iran, are touching as many souls as they can before time runs out. We know that the end of the age is upon us and time is of the essence. We are watching our world slipping into greater chaos and wickedness every day. We know that we are at the point in Bible prophecy when it is not going to get better. God however keeps His eyes on His faithful people and He will guide them by His Spirit until the last soul that is going to be reached before Daniel’s 70th Week begins, has been reached. Praise God that He is in control of all things!
Please keep the House of Blessing missionaries in your prayers. Let’s all keep each other in prayer as well. We are living in turbulent times and believers all over the world are facing unusual harsh weather patterns, geological threats, increasing threats from the heavens, and of course, increasing persecution all around the world. Jesus is coming soon!
Forever in His Service,