Two of our pastors’ families for whom I asked your prayers yesterday have evidently perished. The building they lived in totally collapsed. One, a great leader, whom we thought would take over the ministry there, perished with his wife. His daughter fled to Europe several years back after continued persecution, including multiple episodes of rape, beatings, and being shot. She will not see her mom or dad here again. Her brother, a young man, was away that night, so his life was spared.
The day before the quake, we discussed his needs. He has been so severely and so often persecuted that he cannot stand to preach for more than fifteen minutes at a time. He told us that he wanted to go on to Heaven and didn’t know how much more suffering he could endure. Twelve hours later, he and his wife were walking on golden streets.
The other was a family whom I had never met. They came to Christ and have grown in their faith after my visit there. He was pastoring several house churches as well. Unfortunately, he, his wife, and their two children were crushed during the quake.
I am slowly writing a compilation of persecution stories containing chapters on these men and their families.
As aftershocks of 4.0 continue, more buildings fall due to their weakened conditions resulting from shelling in their eleven-year civil war.
In addition to the refugees we were already caring for, we have an additional 285 people who have lost their dwellings.
God is so good.
We asked you to give to our Christian refugees a week ago ($16,000), and you immediately gave $35,000 more than we asked for. I wondered why our Lord led you to do so. Now I know. He provided through you for a need that He knew we would soon have. Those extra funds are already on their way. How much worse would the story be if we were only starting to raise funds now?
We will let you know more as we receive more data. But please understand that it is time for us to begin earnestly raising funds for their relief. They have only the clothes they were wearing, primarily night clothes. They are cold, the temperatures during the day hover just above freezing – and it is raining – and the water freezes at night. They have no diesel to heat with, no propane, fuel, or electricity. Our people are suffering.
The question I expect most frequently at this time is, do we have preachers and church members in the area of the earthquake? My answer is Yes, many.
While we are working on getting reports and updates, let me tell you what I know at this moment. By seven this morning, we had ascertained that many of our families are now homeless. This includes families that we relocated and for whom you have so generously given funding for food, clothing, heating oil, etc. (If you see news reports, you will see there is deep snow on the ground. It is cold there.)
Building buildings are still collapsing in our base city, about one hundred miles from the epicenter. The government has forbidden entry into the streets that are among the worst damaged. Unfortunately, two of our primary leaders live in one of the pancaked buildings. We have not yet heard from them or their families. And worse, we cannot get in to search for them.
Please pray fervently for these two leaders, their families, and all our other families in the area. Pray for their safety and their ability to witness to those who are now in such great danger.
You know that as we learn more, we will inform you and ask for your help to care for our Family there and those who do not yet know our Saviour, whom they call, The Lord of the Cross. If you want to get a head start with a donation, you can give online here, or mail in a check and designate it to "Syrian Earthquake Damage".
I just received word from our man in the Middle East. He wanted to let you all know that all the families have relocated safely. We didn’t lose a single one! This is even though, during the transportation, they were almost literally dodging missile strikes all along the way. Not to mention gunfire, IEDs, and militias.
Oh yeah, in addition to relocating all 600 people, they were also able to squeeze in another seven families (about sixty people) who had befriended our people and asked for deliverance. It reminds me of how, when Moses led the people out of Egypt, others who loved them and their God came along with them. (referred to as foreigners in the Bible)
So, we have successfully transported and relocated nearly 700 of our Family. "To God be the glory, great things He has done"— through you!
I’ll share some fantastic news in the next few weeks. So be looking for the email.
It's incredible how the world has changed in such a short time. Is this an indication that our Lord is returning soon? If so, we should do all we can, as soon as we can, and while we still can, to give Him a most glorious welcome.
Here's what's going on:
East Africa - the cost of food assistance has increased 65 percent on average in the past year. Several national leaders have announced that they are on "the brink of disaster." In the last few weeks, famine has begun to expand. It has always been here, but until recently, the United Nations was confident that the number of starving people globally was shrinking. They declared that what they had been doing was working -- until now.
Egypt – in recent weeks, the price of bread increased 400% overnight. That's right, overnight. How would you react to that if it happened here?
Though the global inflation rate for 2022, as of the end of May, is 8.7%, many countries are experiencing a far more significant increase. For example:
• Venezuela — 1198.0%
• Sudan — 340.0%
• Lebanon — 201.0%
• Syria — 139.0%
• Suriname — 63.3%
• Zimbabwe — 60.7%
• Argentina — 51.2%
• Turkey — 36.1%
Globally - The United Nations reports that 140 million people suffer from acute hunger in just ten countries. Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Most of these lands are closed to American missionaries, but we have supported national preachers in all of them.
The UN says that even if they gave tens of millions of dollars to help each country, it would be only a drop in the bucket. That may be true for them, but they don't know what our Lord can do with five loaves and two fish. They don't know how, with one small cruise of oil, the widow paid all her debts and had funds left to live on. God's flow of blessing didn't stop until she ran out of pots to pour the oil into. And with all the preachers we have, you might say that we are in the pot-making business, so we will never run out of vessels useful in the Lord's service. (And for you old Hippies -- that's not the kind of pot I'm talking about.)
Their report stated that one of the problems with global food distribution is the lack of trusted agents to disperse it. Usually, it is consumed by governments, militias, and mafias. However, in our case, all the food and assistance we give – 100% of it -- is dispersed by national pastors and their church members.
This week, the Chief of the World Food Program (WFP) announced that 276 million people are struggling to find food and that 49 million people in 43 countries are 'knocking on famine's door.' This results in death and 'unmatched migration,' which ultimately destabilizes societies. Food availability will not be merely a concern, but likely the biggest concern in 2023.
We, believers, know that the future holds wars and rumors of war, famines, pestilences (fatal epidemic diseases), and earthquakes in various places. Our Master warned us of this grim future preceding His return. He compared it to the earth groaning in predelivery birth pains. Our response should not be to ignore the suffering of others because their pain does not touch us.
Even as famines spread and deepen globally, the likelihood of starvation in the United States is extremely unlikely. So, does that mean we do not need to be emotionally moved by the suffering of others? Should we not try to relieve the suffering of strangers? And what about our Christian family in other lands; are we justified to ignore their needs while we have enough, if not plenty?
We grieve with parents who have lost their children to a madman, and we should. We want to hug and help the mothers and fathers whose little child was snatched from them instantly. Like you, I cannot imagine their grief. But what of the parents who watch their child die a little more every day because they have no food to give them? Their cries turn to whimpers, their tears dry up, their hair begins to fall out, and their bones to protrude. Where there was once curiosity and excitement in life, there is now silence and malaise in their impending death. Can we not grieve for foreigners the same as for citizens? Can we not grieve for those unknown abroad as we do for those unknown at home?
Jesus said there will always be the poor. True, but stating a fact does not imply that we should do nothing to remedy it. The 5000 were not starving when he fed them; they were uncomfortably hungry at most, yet he fed them. It was not a crisis, merely a need that, in meeting it, revealed His position as the Son of God. That was His purpose, not to feed but to glorify God. The feeding was instrumental in revealing himself sent from Heaven as the Son of God.
In his final moments of extreme agony, our Lord physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually took His thoughts off himself to comfort the man beside him, with an assurance of salvation that very day. Can we not, following his example, take our attention off our financial struggles and give attention to the needs of others? If not, why not?
You will repeatedly hear me discuss this need in the coming months and perhaps years. Some will do what they can -- when they can, to help. Others will say it is better to teach them to fish than to give them a fish. Such a quaint, modern attitude that does nothing to comfort the hungry and everything to soothe the conscious of those with abundance. To that person, I would ask, when was the last time you taught someone to fish? Why not give Jesus your fish (or fishing gear and boat) and see what He will do with it! It is good to feed a starving man, and it is better to teach him to fish, but it is best to do both. Feed as you teach because he may starve before catching his first fish.
However, there are considerations. What if there is no river or lake to fish in? What if he has no fishing pole, no line, no hook, and no bait? How then will you teach him? In such cases, the platitude merely adds our insult to their injury. Not only is he still hungry, but now he is also hopeless.
My persuasion is that we should help all we can, even if it hurts us a bit, but we should do it in a way that Christ receives the glory. And while we are helping, we should first help those who are "of the household of faith," which brings me to my purpose in writing you.
In January, you helped immensely and miraculously by providing food for 500 Afghani families that were new believers. Four thousand five hundred people who are members of our family in Christ. We asked, and you gave enough to meet their needs for January, February, and March. As a result, we felt they could plant crops, find jobs, and take care of themselves when the winter passed. You not only fed them, but you also relocated all of them to areas where they were unknown and escaped certain death. Many believers in neighboring countries took entire families into their homes. They shared their hearts, their bedding, and their food. But today, with staggering inflation, droughts, and unemployment, those families can no longer feed their own, much less provide for others, yet still, they try.
Food riots are coming:
Today, only a small percentage of these Afghani families are in dire need. Still, absolute devastation has hit in other counties where bread prices have increased from 200% to 400% over the last two weeks. Their numbers come to a total of 437 families. With an average of six to eight members in each family, totaling nearly 3,500 people who are not praying over their food, they are praying for their food. Most of these families are widowed and orphaned due to sickness, famine, and martyrdom. We have lost hundreds of men (also women and teens) over the past decade because they were known to be followers of Christ. Though I dare not tell you their countries, let it suffice to say they are in the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and across North Africa.
What can we do to help our church families?
These families need survival foods for the next 2-3 months, so for "the worst-case scenario," I must assume the need will last three months. These monthly packages will include their staple foods such as flour to bake bread, milk for their children (not a formula, just milk), and burgal, an Arabic cultural food similar to rice. In addition, each family will also receive two kilos of lentils which is about four and a half pounds, four cans of meat, and one hundred eggs. (That's about half an egg per person every day.) Finally, we will also provide sufficient pure water. With the summer heat already breaking records worldwide, this alone could be a lifesaver.
The price for these monthly food packages is only $3 per family, per day. And while that is a tiny and easily attainable amount for one day's ration, it grows to $90 for a month and a staggering $270 for three months. (Don’t you wish that was your grocery bill?)
Some of us could afford to "adopt" a family for the three months at that price, but most of us cannot. Unfortunately, we are not talking about one family; 437 families need to be fed for the three months requiring $117,990. The good news is that one family has already given $20,000 toward that need, bringing the balance to $97,990. (That comes to $32,663 per month for three months.) They did so because they could and were aware of the need. I don't know what you can do or will do, but you are now aware.
Christ had other concerns of far greater spiritual and eternal matters while he hung on the cross. He was forsaken by his disciples and abused by those who had, days earlier, adored him. He was lied about by the highest authorities, shamed by his exposed nakedness, and was suffering from extreme dehydration. Finally, betrayed by a disciple, he took upon himself the weight, the grief, and the penalty of our sin. He watched as his Father turned his back on him, placed himself into his Father's care, and died. It kind of makes our problems seem tiny, doesn't it? Yet, in such a moment, he turned his attention to a malefactor (definition: a homosexual convicted of murder during a homosexual encounter). A man who was also a thief (perhaps having robbed his victim after or during the murder).
I wonder, can I take my attention off my problems long enough to help one of these families? And if I can, could I also help two?
I will share how we have been feeding and “teaching them to fish” in the coming months. I know you will be encouraged by what you learn. But until then, these families need to be fed, and to do so; I need your help.
Be assured the families are not sitting idle; these widows and families do all they can to survive every day. But they live in a region that now has no running water, sporadic electricity during the day and none at night, curfews in the mid-afternoon, and militia roaming the streets. What can we expect them to do? They don't enjoy the pain of hunger or the grief of their memories. Ragged clothes, shoes with holes, buttons missing, and too expensive to replace; these are their living conditions. The house churches have done more than they thought they could. And when they had used all you provided, they continued to give from their lack of abundance, and the families have survived an additional two months. Now their cupboards are bare, and soon, the only food left may be the leather of their shoes. We dare not sing, "come and dine," if we are unwilling to put a plate on the table for them.
Do you recall from April 11, the story of two sisters, Abir and Rana, in a north African country who were nearly beaten to death for their faith by their brother? He was instructed by his father, working in another country, and encouraged by his mother. Their crime was praying and having possession of a Bible that we (you) provided for them and all their fellow believers. (If you don’t’ remember this story, click here for a review.)
Being rescued by their pastor and taken to the hospital, God provided sympathetic doctors to care for them. When we learned of the medical costs you provided for them. Then we arranged for them to escape their family, who wanted them back to finish the job.
There is a great deal of improvement after comas, surgeries, therapies, and medication. Both are continuing their physical therapy and have begun to be able to move better. Their bruises are almost gone from their faces and bodies, and the doctors are examining them weekly. And they are happy with the reconstruction of their faces.
Their legal situation:
After leaving the hospital unnoticed, they remain in hiding from their family. Their daily needs are being cared for by their church, but the parents still want to sue the church and incarcerate the pastor for kidnapping. With the help of an attorney, we have been able to discourage them from taking action as it will lead to their arrest for the attempted murder of their daughters. So at the moment, all is quiet.
We ask for your continued prayers for their healing and safety.
Before I get started, allow me to update you on our current Bible project. Two weeks ago, I told you that we are attempting to raise $150,000 for 25,000 Bibles. We have already received over $8,000 towards that goal. Thanks so much to all who gave and prayed. Our preachers and their congregations are so effective that it has increased the need for more Bibles, which are illegal in their countries. Because of our numerical growth, all 25,000 Bibles will be targeted -- for not a region but one single country! Please consider helping us with this need by clicking here, or mailing in a check and designating it to "Smugglers".
A Widow in Pakistan:
In Pakistan, there is a widow in great need. Her situation is so dire that I wanted to share it with you. Our Lord gave us instructions in the Book of James to take care of widows and orphans. This command is emphasized with the admonition that while we seek to take care of others, we should concentrate on helping those of our "household of faith." So, let me share her need with you.
This widow's name is Zerina Sarvar. Her husband, also a believer and faithful church member, passed away five years ago from a heart attack at the age of thirty-five, leaving her with no means of caring for their four children. Her kids range in age from ten to fourteen. To feed them, Zerina took a job working as a housekeeper while her three oldest children study in our Bible Institute and work in the ministry. (Like timothy, we train them and put them to work as early as possible.) Unfortunately, her salary is only $80 a month.
Arzo, age twelve, is her oldest daughter. She works teaching the children in Sunday School and doing outreach and evangelism with the other students and is particularly effective at door-to-door evangelizing. Her two sons, Sahil and Sajeel, ages fourteen and thirteen, are good students but are also on the church planting teams. When I was there in February, they both went along with us from house to house and village to village, helping in any way they could. All her kids are bright, energetic, happy, and eager to serve in any capacity. The youngest daughter, Eshewa, is ten years old and is learning by the example of her older siblings. She eagerly serves Christ by helping mothers with their babies, helping in the kitchen, etc.
Recently, during the heavy rains in March/April, their tiny house was destroyed. It was only a one-room house where they slept and lived while cooking on stones outside. The rains caused large cracks in the wall and roof, which have collapsed and are irreparable. As a result, they moved in with neighbors in their tiny "house" with two rooms, having a "kitchen" corner inside. Ten people are living in this confined space. Pastor Shaukat tells us this widow needs and deserves our help. He is asking us to provide the funds for building materials so he and the men in the church can build them a new house.
Here are some incredible details that might lead you to help them.
The entire budget to build this family a new house is only $3,272. It will be equal to or a bit better than what they previously had and will be built of better materials to survive future rains. In addition, they will have an indoor "kitchen" like their neighbors (but better) and electricity and running water. We are even giving them their own bathroom. (Usually, these communities have an outdoor bathroom that five to twelve families share.)
We can do all this for $3,272. Isn't' that incredible! What a blessing for them and what a testimony to the Muslims living around them to see how Christians take care of their own. Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see YOUR good works, and glorify your FATHER who is in Heaven." This is an opportunity for us to do so without straining our resources.
You may wonder how we can do this for such a low price. That is the blessing and advantage for us, working in developing countries, where our dollars are multiplied in value. It is incredible that the cost of a dining room set or living room set here -- can build an entire house there. But, like Jesus feeding the 5000 from a single child's serving of bread and fish, we can take a little and do a lot. But consider this, had the lad, when asked by the disciples, not been willing to give Jesus all he had – what then? The willingness of that young boy will prevent us from ever knowing the outcome.
As His disciples today, we are always thankful for you, who willingly, sacrificially, and eagerly give us your "bread and fish" for the benefit of others. You must undoubtedly have abundant rewards waiting for you in Glory.
Please click here to help this widow and her family, select "Special Projects" and then select "Pakistan Widow House". Otherwise you can mail in a check and designate it to "Pakistan Widow House".
Our latest Progress Report is now available to view online!
In this issue you can read about;
And of course, so much more! So head on over to our website and download the latest issue.
In North Africa
The two sisters in North Africa were released from the hospital today. They have gone to live with a family in their church who will take care of them. Theirs is a secure location, and next week will start their physical therapy. Both sisters are burdened with various casts on their legs, feet, arms, hands, etc. As you can imagine, they are in a great deal of pain. In addition, we have purchased a blender because one of the girls has her mouth wired shut and can only eat liquids for the next many weeks.
Pray for the situation. We had learned that before their brother attacked them, he called his father, and the father told him to do so. And it was his mother that initiated and encouraged the beating. For this reason, the girls do not want to return home, but the family is threatening to take our local church, which rescued them and is hiding them, to court. We have reminded them that if they do, their son will be charged with two counts of attempted murder, among other charges, and will spend many years in prison or worse. Please pray for wisdom and that they will decide to let their daughters live apart from them legally.
While the situation may require it in the future, at least for the moment, we have the necessary funds to continue with their healing, therapy, and living expenses. If that changes, I’ll let you know.
Several months back, we asked you to help us relocate our two churches in Afghanistan. We had to move both congregations to new locations, far removed from their hometown where they were unknown. Moving them, renting apartments, restocking their food, clothing, etc., cost tens of thousands of dollars, but God provided it all through you.
Today they informed us that since moving, they have led 17 young adults to Christ and, in another location, 13 others. They have grown stronger in the Faith through their trials and are a shining example to the churches throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.
We need to send 25,000 more Bibles to a single country in the Middle East where an incredible harvest is being reaped. Each Bible costs us $6 to print, bind and deliver to that land. Thus, we need to raise $150,000 quickly. Can you help? The success stories you read about above resulted from us smuggling Bibles into Islamic lands where they are forbidden. With such results, this is no time to slow down. You can donate online by clicking here and selecting "Smugglers". If you prefer to send a check, please email us and let us know the amount so we can expect it and make a note on your check that it is for "Smugglers".
As of this morning, the need has been met. Praise God! We give our thanks to Him and to you, His people, for meeting this need. In Glory, you will delight to meet these two sisters whom you have given life to and all those they will bring to Christ!
There is no doubt that other expenses will arrive. We learned yesterday that the doctors have had to put multiple pins in the hand of the one girl, and the other has had her jaw wired shut for it to heal. As a result, she will be on liquid foods only for six weeks. Then, of course, we cannot return them to their home, and it will be illegal for them to be on their own at those ages, so we will have to find a place to secure them and provide for their needs for a time.
Please pray for their healing, safety, and safety of all our churches from Morocco to Pakistan. And pray that we will continue to reach millions of Muslims for the glory of Christ.
(If you missed the original need you can read it here)