As I begin writing the current Mideast Update, I think of the confluence of events in the Middle East today. I have stacks of papers scattered on my desk covering the so-called “Arab Spring”, the Syrian civil war, the escalating military involvement of numerous world powers in the Mideast, the resulting ever-deteriorating refugee crisis, and then of course the fearless efforts of the missionaries that are daily giving their lives for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ and fulfilling the Great Commission of Mark 16:15-18.
We are living in a time like none other in the history of the world. It is not that war, disease, starvation, and human misery are anything new. They are not. But, the convergence of events today point to the fact that mankind is facing the end of the age, predicted long ago by the Old Testament prophets, and then confirmed in detail by Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
As I write today’s chapter of the House of Blessing Mideast Update, the annual Islamic Hajj for the year 2016 and its most holy day, Eid al-Adha, are nearing an end. Officially, it began on September 9 and concludes on the 14th, as this update is uploaded. For several years now, House of Blessing missionaries have put a special effort during this annual Muslim religious holiday, to reach as many as possible with the only real good news available for a planet that is hurtling toward the Apocalypse. This good news is centered around Messiah Yeshua and the matchless sacrifice He provided for the salvation of the world.
As the religious holidays neared, HOB brought a special prayer request before the Lord of the Harvest, asking Him to provide for 2,000 Bibles so that the HOB missionaries would have enough for themselves to use as they preach and teach, and also to distribute among the multitude of brand new believers as they accept the Lordship of Messiah Yeshua. Through God’s mercy and the generous gifts of God’s people, some of the money became available through donations and the balance was covered by a loan.
At the same time that millions were streaming toward Mecca, the United States, Russia, and their allies were negotiating another temporary cease-fire. The cease-fire was of course limited in nature because there are jihadist entities not eligible to benefit from this cease-fire. Because of this, shortly after the agreement was signed, more than 100 people were reported killed in a series of bombing raids on rebel-held parts of Aleppo province in the north of the country, and in Idlib in the northwest.
The worst hits were in Idlib city, the capital of Idlib province, where they hit a market, killing 55 civilians. A Russian jet fighter also targeted a residential area and a market in Idlib. This marketplace was full of civilians shopping for the upcoming Eid holiday. In Aleppo, at least 46 civilians, including nine children, were killed. It is believed that Syrian army fighter jets were also involved in these attacks. The humanitarian situation in Aleppo is only getting worse and the fighting intensifies between government forces and the opposition.
Although the news reports continue divulging the tragic news, there are great praise reports coming from the area. During the last few days, HOB missionaries have been able to pray the sinner’s prayer with over 2,700 brand new believers in the Aleppo / Idlib and surrounding area. In the Fallujah, Iraq and surrounding area, around 1,500 have made Yeshua their Lord and Master. In the Mosul, Iraq area, the number is now over 2,100. What a miracle is happening once again!
At the same time the multitudes are being reached, both Fatima and Hafezah and those helping them have continued overseeing the communion services in their respective locations. Between them, over 2,600 men and women received communion. God’s Spirit reigned supreme and people were healed, baptized with the Holy Spirit and were greatly strengthened and encouraged. As has been the case for months now, people found themselves praising and worshipping God until the early hours of the morning.
Because of the outpouring of God’s Spirit, people were praying with one another, sharing what little food they had, and especially celebrating the fact that they were able to share a Bible between 20-25 people. These Bibles are being passed from person to person, each recognizing the privilege it is to have a Bible in hand to read, even if it is only for a limited period of time before handing it to someone else that is waiting! Each person is urged to share their Bibles with their families and these large families are nearly all reached with the gospel as well.
Sister Mufiedah also continues ministering healing to dozens each week. Most of those she ministers to would not survive because they have no other means of receiving medical help, except through the House of Blessing and the miraculous method God has given the Widow Sisterhood of ministering.
Along with the good news received about the thousands that are finding Yeshua as Lord and Saviour, HOB missionaries and new believers continue losing their lives–almost daily, and in all areas of ministry. There have been so many now in the last 4 ½ years, it is nearly impossible to count. God however is aware of every single one of His faithful servants that was martyred. They are now in His presence. Along with the adults lost, there are also the children who lost their lives. How sad it is, yet they are also in the presence of our Lord and Master, as we all will be very soon.
As I was getting ready to finish the update for this week, I was sent an interesting article written by a Muslim man who happens to live in the United States. As I read some of his thoughts, I was struck by the power of the message that the true Church of Jesus Christ has to share with a confused and hopeless world. There is a stark contrast between the message brought to the world by Yeshua, God in the form of a man, while on this earth, and the religious thoughts or theories written by men (or women) who either dreamed up their “new” religious ideas or received them directly from demon spirits. One brings life, and the others bring only death…spiritual death. This contrast is no more evident than between Islam and true Christianity.
This Muslim writer described how Muslims take their sacrificed cows, goats, or whatever they can afford to sacrifice on this spiritual holiday. They split the sacrifices into three portions; one part for the family, one for friends and relatives, and the third part for the needy. But, as Muslims celebrated the story of Abraham, praying for Allah to bless Muhammad and Muhammad’s family as he had blessed Abraham and his family, many have questioned, “Why did God stop talking to us?”
According to the teachings of Islam, the long line of prophets sent by God to the world, started with Adam, which was the first, and then men like Noah, Abraham, Jesus, and John the Baptist. After Muhammad, though, it was over. Why did God cut off all communication to the human race after Muhammad?
Muslims are taught that Muhammad was the best of all creation, and the line was sealed at his death in the 7th century. So, this American Muslim writer is troubled more frequently now than ever, thinking to himself, “I don’t know if God is far away from me, or I am far away from him, but I don’t hear him like I used to, nor does it seem he hears me like he used to. Shouldn’t I at least find the distance decreased on a day like Eid?”
Eid al-Adha, is Islam’s biggest holiday, three days of feasting to mark the end of the pilgrimage and to remember the world-changing moment when Abraham’s hand, about to slay his son, was stayed by God’s command. Muslims believe that the son Abraham was asked to sacrifice was Ishmael, Abraham’s son by his wife’s Egyptian maid. Christians and Jews, of course believe it was Isaac, Abraham’s son miraculously born to Sarah, his wife, who was past childbearing age. The Bible makes it clear that God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah, not Ishmael, who Muhammad said was taken to Mecca.
This last Sunday not only marked the end of this year’s hajj, but also the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Our Muslim writer continues his article by saying he recently toured the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and found it too painful to pass through. He said it was very difficult to see all those names etched in stone, the thousands murdered, but also to see that no one had etched into stone the names of the thousands who have been killed since. His view is that the Muslim world today seems trapped. In recent days, Saudi Arabia’s leading religious authority excommunicated Iran. And Iran, in turn, backs Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, which has used chemical weapons and killed vastly more civilians than even ISIS.
Many Muslims today will soon find themselves following a man who calls himself the Mahdi, the “rightly guided”, who claims he will rescue the world from darkness? According to Islam–or at least one segment of Islam, the Mahdi will be aided by the Messiah, Jesus, who will kill all of the infidels, especially all the Christians and Jews. What a twisted theology this is!
As I read the comments by Haroon Moghul, the writer I have been referring to above, I could feel his frustration. This is the frustration of a Muslim man who is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy. But, I am told that the frustration and confusion experienced by millions of Muslims around the world, especially in the Middle East, is even greater. They are seeing Muslims not only murdering infidels, but when they cannot find infidels to kill, they turn on each other. How can Muhammad have been a real prophet like the ones listed in the Bible when his theology appears to be so different? How can Allah and Jehovah God be the same GOD?
Can you imagine the surprise when they learn that Jesus Christ really was crucified, in spite of the fact that Islam teaches He was not? Is there any way for those of us in the West to comprehend the enormous relief Muslims feel when they find that the true God, Jehovah God–who is not Allah–has provided a true means of total and eternal forgiveness of sins. The Qu’ran cannot offer anything of the kind. Can you imagine the intense interest a Muslim person has when he begins learning about the Kingdom of God, which only the Bible provides? Can you imagine how overcome Muslim people are when they experience the true love of God for themselves? The Qu’ran has nothing of the kind to offer!
Which “holy” book was written first? Of course, the Bible was written first. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible thousands of years before Muhammad was ever born. It is no wonder so many former Muslim sheikhs are so interested in learning how the Bible explains the prophetic events that are unfolding upon this earth. Only God knows the end from the beginning, and His version is much different than what Islam teaches. And, what He has prophesied through His true prophets, has been recorded in the Bible…not the Qu’ran, nor any other “holy” book. Allah is not the true God. He is a false god, like every other false “god” that demands the worship of human beings. Who are these gods? They are the fallen angels and their slave demons who serve Satan, the fallen Lucifer and all his fallen ones.
Muslim people, for the most part, have no idea of the good news that is contained in the Bible, the very Bible which most of us in the West take for granted and unfortunately allow to gather dust on our book shelves. The missionaries belonging to the House of Blessing live for one thing, and one thing alone. This is to share this good news about Yeshua, the only real sacrifice, the one and only Lamb of GOD, Who gave His life for the sins of the entire world.
In this critical day and hour, we are privileged to pray for these missionaries and help them with the support they need to continue with this great and mighty harvest on the front lines of this spiritual war. This harvest is ripe and is part of the great harvest the Bible promised would come about right at the very end of the age. There is no greater investment in time or finances than in this harvest that our Lord is bringing about. Again, the HOB missionaries send their thanks to all who have given and prayed so faithfully!
Together in His service,
House of Blessing; 3206 SW 45th Street; Redmond, Oregon USA 97756