Time Running Out!
I have more news to share after receiving another weekly call from Syria. One thing that becomes more apparent every week is the fact that time is running out. Most of us–even in the West, are getting at least some of the disturbing news from the Mideast and it is becoming increasingly obvious that there is a fuse which has been lit which cannot be put out at this late stage of events. Major war is just a matter of time. In spite of the fact that some of the world leaders are blaming the news media for making the world look like it is falling apart, most everyone knows that the root cause of the world’s building chaos is not the news media. It really is the condition of our world today.
I am sure that many have heard the news of Al Qaeda factions that threatened United Nations soldiers within a few hundred yards of the Israeli border with Syria in the Golan. Many of these soldiers are from Fiji. One of the readers of this blog who visited Israel a few months ago traveled to the border with Syria and had her photo taken with some of the believing Fiji soldiers. We must pray for these folks!
In order to give you the latest update from House Of Blessing, I will break the news up into segments, one for each nation represented.
Many of you have read the beginning of this project and how thousands of Bibles were taken into the Kingdom of Jordan. These Bibles were printed into Arabic and were given to people as the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was shared. Many gave their lives as they shared God’s love, but a great many of those who heard them found God’s forgiveness and peace. One of these was the mullah of the town mosque. As you might remember, he became a believer right in the town square but only days later had his life taken from him by some of the more radical members of his mosque when he gave his testimony of accepting Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
As the story unfolded, the ones most closely associated with the murder of the mullah ended up becoming believers as well. As of about 2 weeks ago, it seems that another 45 of the men of this mullah’s mosque have realized that Jesus really is the Messiah and have become believers as well. They are now in the process of receiving teaching–some from other believers, and as I understand it, from printed copies of teachings that had been brought into Jordan by HOB. God certainly has His ways of getting the job done! HOB has requested that all of us pray that the rest of the 200+ that were present that day in the mosque will also find Jesus as their LORD. Let’s do just that!
As most of you have likely read in the past updates, brother Omar is doing an amazing work– with great personal sacrifice, as are most of the missionaries in the region. Omar is continuing the training of the 21 former Iraqi officers. The families of these men have also been reached with God’s forgiveness, as well as a great many additional family groups since the latest event with the burning clubs miracle (see the former update).
At the same time, there are about 300 more people who are being taught a combination of materials from Pastor R****’s materials and the series “The Conflict of Faith and Works”, and the “Intimacy With God” series. Not all of the 300 are believers yet, but most are and the rest will hopefully follow soon. There are many listening in on these teachings. Again, we must pray for the safety of these brave men and women who have dedicated themselves to the preaching and teaching of the Gospel under circumstances that could cost them their lives at any moment.
In the last update, I neglected to mention that there had been another 14 missionaries caught and brutally murdered by ISIS terrorists. This last week, there were another 9 martyred. I don’t want to be too graphic but we need to know what is happening to ourbrothersandsisters. Many were beheaded; others had their heads exploded, others were cut in half. ISIS also is known for its dismembering of its victims, including children. Folks, these are real happenings with real lives! Please pray for them! Pray for courage, strength and overflowing faith.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that some of HOB’s missionaries were able to push up into Kurdistan. All I know so far is that there are a number of family groups that have now been reached in the area but I don’t have any kind of number to give you. I find it amazing what God is doing in these last days before His return to call His people home!
A number of weeks ago, there were about two dozen or more of HOB’s missionaries who happened to speak Farsi who went through Iraq and over the border into Iran. These folks seem to be able to report reaching another 20-40 family groups every time they are able to get a report out of the country. That was the case again this last week. By now, there are many hundreds that have been touched by the love of God!
Syria continues to be one of the worst killing fields, if not the worst in the world today. Not only has the civil war been going on for over three years and conservative estimates say between 190,000-200,000 people have been killed, with at least 3 million people displaced, but there is also a terrific struggle between jihadist groups for supremacy. ISIS (or ISIL or IS or Daash) claims to be forming a Muslim caliphate. They are also well on the way, partly due to their seeming unlimited funding, and extreme brutality which is causing great fear in the entire Middle East. There are, however, other jihadist groups. The last estimate I heard was about 30 different groups. Of course, we also have Assad’s Syrian army. The nation is in great turmoil and the people are the victims. The favorite targets for beheading or worse are the Christians or Jews living in the area. The persecution by ISIS was so severe that there are no known Christians left in the Mosul, Iraq area. This is the case in many areas of Syria as well.
Yet, in spite of all this, at least another 120-150 family groupings were reached with the Gospel of the Messiah Jesus this last week. While these were being reached, another 14 missionaries (besides the 14 mentioned earlier in Iraq) were beheaded or shot to death-mostly by ISIS.
One of the stories that is continuing in Syria has to do with the “Widow Sisterhood.” The 25 widows who reached the 16 sheikhs including the badly injured ones that God healed, have now become 40 or 45. These widows go from house to house praying for the sick and telling the story of Jesus and His love for mankind. God has honored their prayers with an astounding number of miracles, including verified healings of blind eyes, deaf ears, paralysis, and a large number of other maladies, injuries, or ailments. God has kept them well protected to this point. They must have an army of powerful angels around them wherever they travel!
I want to close this update with the request once more to please pray for these folks. There have been many hundreds of thousands reached in the last 30 months but there are so many dying, so many who do not know the love of God. These courageous missionaries are doing their very best and do not know from one day to the next if they are coming home. The least we can do is pray for them. We are the Church, are we not?
I was struck this last week by something said by a surgeon to lepers named Dr. Paul Brand. He described what happens to lepers. The nerves stop functioning as they should, stopping the process of sending signals of pain to the brain. Lepers will begin to lose fingers and toes in accidents because they cannot feel pain when they are hurting themselves. Here’s the application for us: When the church does not feel pain with other suffering believers, it indicates the presence of “spiritual leprosy.” The church’s nerves are DEAD! What happens next is that the Church begins to lose body members. Pain signals the body to send help to the hurting member. Pain is absolutely necessary for the body to be able to repair itself and heal itself. So, pain is a gift! It is crucial that we feel the pain of suffering members in the body so that we can rise to repair and heal as God has intended us to. Intercession is a response to pain! Cries of intercession are the vehement cries of believers beseeching heaven on behalf of one another.
I can’t imagine the maturity that will overtake the Body of Christ when we can really begin to identify with the suffering members of the body as though it were we ourselves going through what our brethren are experiencing! We would grow up in a hurry! Most of the western church is pretty powerless! Could it be that we spend more time on social media and entertainment than participating in the prayer support of our brethren who are being tortured and imprisoned for their faith? That is too often the case. A bit harsh? Perhaps. But undeserved? I don’t think so.
2 thoughts on “MIDEAST UPDATE, 9/1/2014”
Hi brother Jake,
Thank you for this and for all that you do. I am starting a twice a month prayer meeting soley for the persecuted church and their/our enemies. It will be Tuesday nights from 7-9 at our home in NW Redmond. I am sure you know of other such groups in our area and would love to hear any details you have about them. I will do this group anyway so any from
Desert Song who feel compelled to join can come. The more the better right? I am grateful for your analogy about the lepers – How tragic, but true.
God bless you and Anne,
Thanks so much Polly!