Turkey Underground Reconciliation Conference
Recently we came back from a Middle Eastern underground reconciliation conference in Turkey. I also had the opportunity to take my youngest son, Guy, with me on this trip. It was very important for me to allow him to experience first hand what prayer and unity among believers look like.
It was equally important, since we get to raise our kids in the reality of the Middle east, when we are surrounded by those who hate us, and the enemy tries to sow hatred into our hearts and the hearts of our children every day. It is our responsibility to teach them and show them that only love will defeat hatred.
It was a precious time of prayer, worship, sharing and encouragement we got to spend with our fellow brothers who came from all over the Middle East. We heard some amazing testimonies and stories, as well as some really difficult and shocking ones of what christians have to endure these days in the Middle East.
It is no secret of the far-reach Islamic State has had all over the Middle East. We’ve seen the gruesome images, the unimaginable cruelty with which they execute people. They do that to their own, now imagine what they are doing to Christians who refuse to convert to Islam. The cruelty is truly unthinkable, in some parts over 40% of the villages are brutally slaughtered and executed by the militants.
Brothers and pastors have been sharing throughout the conference that everything we see in the media is relatively mild, and it’s only a small portion of all that is going on. The horrible footage is merely the one Islamic State releases, so much more is happening without the world being aware.
But along with terrible darkness, God is shining his light, and the darkness cannot stand against it.
Since Fadi got saved, he has been faithfully following Jesus. He became a pastor and on Christmas he and his wife were arrested. Later another arrest followed.
The first time they were imprisoned for two months, then they were arrested again and put in jail for a year. They had to endured such persecutions and difficult times because of their faith that they had to eventually flee Iran and seek asylum in Turkey.
Imagine what it’s like to have your government confiscate your land & house, taking away your passport, causing you, your wife & kids to flee the country, forbidding you to ever come back to the only land and home you’ve ever known, turning you into refugees in a foreign country.
Their work in Turkey has been amazing. In 10 months they managed to grow from two families into 150 believers, all of them Iranian muslims who received Jesus!
The more I spend time with pastors from the Middle East, the more it touches me deeply, bringing tears to my eyes to see how God is revealing His glory in the most troubled and war torn area in the world.
So many amazing as well as heartbreaking testimonies and stories. Because of security issues we are unable to share with you all of them, or send you all the photos and faces of these dear brothers and pastors, who labor for the Lord is the most harsh and life-threatening conditions in the Middle East. But it’s a blessing to bring you some of these stories, which you will never hear in main-stream media.
In the past, whenever we would gather together, Egyptian and Syrian brothers were afraid to pray with us for fear they would be persecuted where they live, and also many of them still saw Israel as the enemy. They were struggling to accept us as their fellow brothers in faith, and couldn’t see Israel as an important part of God’s plan in the Bible.
All that changed when the Holy Spirit came down. That is the purpose of this conference: to reconcile and unite Arab and Israeli believers, to create an amazing atmosphere of one-new man, united in their faith and by His Spirit.
The largest church consisting of former muslims who got saved is currently in Algiers and has over a 1000 members. Last year 208 received water baptism.
Iraq and Syria
The pastors who came from these countries were praising God they were ALIVE and could come to the conference and be with us all. They said the airport in Baghdad was under attack and they were almost not able to catch their flights to Istanbul. They prayed and the Lord open the way, literally!
In Iraq so much young people are becoming desperate and disillusioned in Islam, saying they now prefer to be atheists than be a part of religion that is behind such atrocities.
Their desperation leads them now to Christ in massive numbers in Iraq! Whole groups of young people turning to God in search for the truth.
Pastor Hadi shared with us how in the midst of violence, war and bloodshed, God is raising powerful worship warriors. He has a School of Praise where they teach worship, write songs of praise and simply minister to God with worship music despite the horrors of death that surround them.
The secret services in Mauritania are accusing the church of tearing Korans, blasphemy against Islam, spying for Israel. They learned about this conference last year, claiming they know the pastors from Mauritania have been secretly meeting with Israelis (with me during previous conferences).
They testify that only by God’s grace and protection they are still alive having these accusations brought against them. They urge us to pray for their protection.
For years we all have been praying for the Christians in Sudan who have been enduring the most brutal persecutions. God answers prayers, and since the country was divided in two, with South Sudan becoming an independent republic in 2011 with a Christian majority, we have heard some amazing testimonies of hod God has been working in their country.
It has been and still is a long journey, the process is still slow and things aren’t easy by far, but to hear during this conference from fellow pastors and leaders from South Sudan how thousands dedicate their lives to fasting and praying, is absolutely incredible!
They testify it is now so much easier to literally gather thousands of people for prayer meetings! Imagine how powerful those prayers must be, coming from such hungry and passionate hearts, eager for a change and to see a better future for their children and their land.
Pastors from Jordan have been sharing about the tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian refugees their country has been receiving. These people are fleeing the horrors of the Islamic State’s militant regime. They ask for our prayers!