11 26 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Syria: Not a Normal Friday in Damascus
(Open Doors received the letter below from Damascus, Syria. It was written by Edward Awabdeh, leader of the Evangelical Alliance denomination in Syria.)
Today it’s Friday again, but it’s not a normal Friday. We had the heaviest bombing and gun battles in months. Not that it’s normally quiet; no, we wake up to this every morning. But today it’s louder, nearer and more intensive. Bombs whistle through the air and cause traffic chaos, deafened ears, shattered glass and a fading trust. You puzzle over the motives. Who’s shooting, what are they shooting with and why? And who or what is being hit by that deadly “gift” from one person to another? A destructive “gift” causing so much pain, fear, suffering, loss, death, hate, bitterness and vengeance. Wailing children, fleeing parents and the least fortunate: the dead…or are they perhaps the most fortunate? Terrible, shocking news fills the newspapers and bombards you with photos that exceed anything you could imagine.
Today it’s Friday again, but it’s not a normal Friday. There is a divine Presence in our house, a message direct from heaven; a tremendous encouragement from God’s Word. It is so intense, so powerful that it drowns out all the sounds of war. A presence that replaces the unrest in our hearts with peace. Rana (Edward’s wife) and I could pass on a divine gift of a completely different order than the deadly, destructive bullets that whistled through the air today: the gift of power from above. That power touched nearly 150 people who fled to Damascus from the interior. They were hungry and thirsty for the living Word. We rose above the deep darkness that lies over the world and the nations. We rejoiced in a taste of heaven and were encouraged by God’s tangible presence. He breathed His spirit of love over us. Straight after the meeting in our church, we went with another couple to visit various families that had suffered tremendously from the violence. We could pass on God’s love to them, for He alone is the real Comforter. We drove home this evening secure in the knowledge that many other families, where the suffering is indescribable, were also visited by our teams.
Should I be sad or glad? Should I weep or laugh? Or should I do both? I don’t know exactly how to respond. I have a strange mixture of feelings. It seems as if the worst misery, the devilish hell that we are living in, and the love and power from heaven which supersedes everything, are united in my heart.
Should I pray for more Fridays like this one? Or should I pray that an end will come to this kind of Friday? To be honest, I don’t know what to pray. I need God’s help; the help of the Holy Spirit who shows me how to pray.
Lord, I am completely overwhelmed. Your wisdom surpasses my understanding. I submit peacefully to your sovereignty. I surrender to the goodness of your decisions. Let your will be done, Lord, let your will be done! Your will reassures me. Yes, death has descended on our land, yet the rains come from heaven…rains that are drenched with life.
Egypt: Thousands Come to Christ in Huge Rally in Desert
From Nov. 14-16 the huge “Count it Right” evangelistic festival took place in Egypt, 70 miles north of Cairo in the middle of Wadi el Natroun desert. It was the one biggest evangelistic events that took place in Egypt this year. It was another festival of joy and deliverance where thousands of Egyptians, mostly from nominal Christian backgrounds, met the Lord Jesus and surrendered their lives to Him.
Over 21 local ministry teams from different churches led or performed 11 different types of services. These services were focused on praise, kids’ activities, drama, cinema, art, sports, mission, prayer, deliverance ministry, a drug & rehabilitation service and apologetics lectures. In addition, there were administrative teams taking care of tickets, transportation, ushering, hospitality, security and medical services. Nine ministry teams with 33 members from other countries also participated and presented special non-traditional shows and performances that drew the attention of the visitors.
As many as 593 buses and mini-buses as well as almost 1,500 private cars transported the participants back and forth for the three days from cities all around Wadi el Natroun twice a day; driving to the event facility in the mornings and back in the evenings. Not a single traffic accident incident was reported which the organizing team considered gracious protection from above. The overall average number of visitors who participated in the festival was approximately 31,000 from different denominations, cities, age groups and backgrounds. A total of 15,000 persons gave their lives to the Lord and publicly prayed seeking salvation in public meetings and in the venues of different performances. Over 5,000 of them filled in follow-up cards, requesting that the organizing church approach them later by invitations for future events and send them follow-up literature about growing in faith.
One pastor from the church leadership team said: “It was amazing to stand and watch what God was doing. After each single performance or activity, we extended a call for those who wanted to give their lives to Jesus, and each time about 60 to 100 people prayed and committed their lives to the Lord. What a great joy to have seen so many conversions.”
(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Open Doors USA website is www.OpenDoorsUSA.org).