Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"Great Evil, Great Revival"

In our monthly publication from The Voice of the Martyrs, I read the following letter from a Christian brother in Syria. I can't find it anywhere on the web to share so I thought I'd type it up myself. ISIS and their brutality has grieved me deeply and I suffer with my brothers and sisters knowing what they are undergoing. This kind of evil is unfathomable. Therefore, this man's thoughts from the midst of this evil were very meaningful to me and I don't want to forget them.

Great Evil, Great Revival

Syria's civil war has stretched on for four and a half years. As Islamists ravage the country, we hear weekly of the tragedies that our Christian brothers and sisters are facing. Believers face similar tragedies anywhere Islamic extremists are active - places such as Nigeria, Iraq and the Philippines. Despite the tragedies and hardships, our persecuted family tells us how God Triumphs amid horrible circumstances. A pastor from Syria recently shared his perspective as a believer living and serving in a war zone where Christians are hated. 

"Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus. I bring to you greetings from your brothers and sisters in Syria. We are one body of Christ; if one suffers, all others will suffer with him.

No suffering is like the suffering in Syria right now. Syria was a very beautiful country, with a population of more than 20 million. Christians were over 20 percent of the population, but right now they are only 7 percent.

Whatever evil things you can imagine are nothing compared to what is really happening in Syria: the destruction, the killing, the kidnappings. The extremists kidnapped one of my relatives; they cut off his head and they started to play soccer with his head. They take the children and put many of them in the oven to kill them. They kidnap the women and rape them and leave them naked in the streets. When they take any woman, they declare, "Allahu akbar" [God is great]. Maybe 10 men take turns on one woman and rape her. They do that until the woman dies. They do this everywhere, especially to Christians.

The suffering is very huge in Syria, and it is dangerous everywhere. There is fear in the hearts of the people. The extremists entered the house of a Christian family I know. The 85-year old woman is so old, she can't walk. Her husband is 94 years old. The terrorists entered and raped the woman in front of her husband. The husband went crazy with grief.

There is great evil! But at the same time, our God is great! God can turn all the evil to good. All the bad things in Syria, God will turn it to good; that is our belief! This is our prayer. God has special factory; He takes all the bad things and puts them inside that factory and brings out blessings and good things to His people.

Before the war, not many people attended our church. We could not have imagined or dreamed about how the evangelical churches are right now. Thousands of families attend the evangelical churches - Catholics and Orthodox and Muslims. They came as refugees to [a city].

We are distributing hundreds of thousands of Bibles to people, mostly to Muslims. There are signs on the main door of the churches, which say, "The church offers a new Testament as a free gift to anyone who wants one." Every day, many people pass by and take a new Testament.

Right now there is a big revival inside the church, and the churches cannot seat any more people. All the families, the people sit on the chairs, on the floor, in the backyard, everywhere. At the beginning of the war, one pastor came to me and said, "I want to leave the country, not for me, but for my children. Only 5 to 10 people attend my church right now, so it is not worth it to stay here." So he left, but right after he left, the church filled up with people. Now they have many rooms full of the people joining the ministry.

One lady shared this testimony before she got baptized: "I lost my house, I lost my furniture, I lost everything, but I won the Lord as my Savior. I am the daughter of the Lord; I am going to the heaven." All her family came to the Lord.

God is working in a might way in Syria. We have a special protection from the Lord; there is a big danger anywhere we move, but we feel the Lord's hand upon us. Rockets and mortars fall down inside the city everywhere, and one day, a rocket hit the wall of our church. Inside the church there was a meeting happening, but God protected us.

One day, the terrorists announced on Facebook that they wanted to attack our city. They said about 30,000 of them were ready to attack as soon as they finished Friday prayers at 1 p.m. It was a very terrible day, but a few believers in the church were praying and fasting. We woke up very early and spent all the day until noon fasting and praying. It was a sunny day, the first week of June.

At 1 p.m., thousands of them entered the mosque to start to pray. Suddenly the weather changed from sunny to cloudy, in one minute. They finished praying at 1:15 p.m. They went out into the street shouting, and started walking toward the city. Then it started raining - not just raining, but hailing huge hailstones. It was the first time that had happened in Syria in many years.

After 15 minutes, no one was left in the streets. All of them ran away. Even the secular Syrian media took a picture of the hail and showed it on the evening news, saying, "God fought with us."

Many Christians in Syria right now are choosing to stay on the frontline, and it's difficult. You can stand beside us by battling through prayer."

This part of the introduction stuck out to me:

"As we hear about the advances of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS), the Syrian refugee crisis, and disturbing legal decisions in our own nation, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by evil in the world [and I often do]. Despite the evil, we have the same assurance that Joseph had after being sold into slavery in Egypt: "You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good" (Gen. 50:20)."

I had never considered this passage in the context of the persecutions in the Middle East and around the world. How true and encouraging it is. Our God will prevail and has prevailed!

Romans 8:28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

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