"BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD: I WILL BE EXALTED AMONG THE HEATHEN [NATIONS], I WILL BE EXALTED IN THE EARTH."Psa. 46:10
Praise the Lord!I have returned from possibly the most historic missionary journey in the 31 year history of TBN! It would take a thousand pages to tell all of the miracles that God did in Jordan and Iraq in the space of about three days! I honesty believe that Matt and I, with our small group, were made INVISBLE to the barriers, checkpoints, armed guards, military infrastructure, and enemies all around us! Supernatural FAVOR was our portion as we moved effortlessly through the war torn and suffering city of Baghdad.
A precious, anointed chaplain just "happened" to attend a pastors' breakfast on the one full day we spent in Baghdad. Lt. Colonel Nabil Haj knew of TBN and graciously invited us to tour the U.S. headquarters in the "Green Zone" and former presidential palace of Saddam Hussein! Normally, it would have taken several weeks to obtain an official invitation, and then would have been extremely restrictive in what we would have been allowed to do and where we would have been allowed to go.
But, before I tell you of a series of miracles, let me back up to our landing in Amman, Jordan. There we met with 40 to 50 beloved pastors and leaders in Jordan. Religious freedom has been reasonably secure for some time in this open and moderate Middle Eastern Arab nation. I was able to explain to them the opportunity for partnership with the TBN satellite coverage of the Middle East, and to challenge and encourage them as the door to spiritual harvest is swinging wide open in the entire region! Praise the Lord!
From Jordan to Iraq, however, was a thrill ride I shall never forget! Our little Eagle I aircraft took us to Jordan, but private aircraft is still forbidden into Baghdad. So we loaded into a small prop engine plane that seated about 20 in two narrow window rows. The feeling became more and more ominous as we moved deeper into Iraqi territory! The spiritual heaviness became more and more pronounced as we approached Baghdad. Believe me, the "Prince of Persia" is still hanging over that whole region! Remember, it took even the Archangel Michael three weeks to break through to Daniel with a message from the Lord! But we also remember since Jesus came: "THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE ARE NOT CARNAL, BUT MIGHTY THROUGH GOD TO THE PULLING DOWN OF [SPIRITUAL] STRONGHOLDS" (2 Cor. 10:4). Praise the Lord God Most High!
We had been warned that the landing of our small plane would be very different, but we were NOT prepared for this one! For nearly half an hour, we circled the airport at 21,000 feet. The reason — several flights had been fired on by al-Qaeda with "SAMS" — surface-to-air missiles. As the plane slowly descended to about 10,000 feet, our pilots put us into a virtual tail spin — the procedure is called a slip landing. Round and round we spiraled — down, down, down, at over 4,000 feet a minute! I nearly needed the little air sickness bag, but just as it felt we were crashing, the pilots pulled us out and, praise God, we were on the runway!
We headed to our second pastors' conference in a so-called "safe" area of Baghdad — as if any area can really be called safe! Once again, 35 to 40 precious pastors honored us with their attendance from many different denominations. I did my best to challenge and encourage them, but in a way I sensed that I had much to learn from them. Here were true bearers of the cross of Christ in a land that has suffered much for the faith of Jesus Christ. Many had lost loved ones under Saddam Hussein's era of persecution and torture! I realized we in the west have been blessed beyond measure as I looked into eyes that have beheld terror beyond measure! I felt that I should have been hearing from them as to what it takes to be a true soldier of the cross! I felt honored just to be in their presence.
My challenge was simple — we will supply satellite equipment, Bibles, books, and virtually anything else to help bring in the awesome harvest in this final hour before Christ returns. And very special to me was a faceto- face meeting with Pastor Haitham Akram Jazrawi from Kirkuk, to whom we had already supplied the first $5,000 to begin purchasing satellite dishes for all the pastors and churches of Iraq!
But the next morning began a spiritual odyssey that was truly miraculous! As I mentioned at the beginning of my letter, a most precious chaplain had been invited to attend our last pastors' breakfast and invited us to visit U.S.A. headquarters in the elite Republican Guard palace of former president Hussein. We never could have dreamed of the adventure we were about to embark upon!
First, a ride through numerous checkpoints, barriers and inspections, starting under the gigantic hands and crossed swords of Saddam Hussein — probably 150 feet high! The hands alone (molded from Saddam's own hands), were at least five stories high! Some ego, wouldn't you say? There we met several of our U.S. and British troops — what an honor! To my surprise, they all knew of TBN — even the British! I gave them photos of our walls of honor at TBN with thousands of pictures of our brave men and women serving in the armed forces. We taped several interviews and assured them of our continued prayers for their safety. How they thanked us for our love, concern, and prayers.
Then it was into the palace itself. As we entered, it was lunch time and we were invited to share a brief meal with several hundred of our troops, plus many foreign soldiers from England, Spain, Italy — even far away places like Nepal, next to India. We met dozens who all knew of TBN and were happy to tape interviews and send greetings to loved ones. We met Ambassador Paul Bremer's chief assistant, who taped an historic interview with us and told of gigantic strides in the letting of contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq — little is heard of this on secular news!
Finally, it was back to the hotel which, by the way, was just across the street from the bombed out Ministry of Communications (their "FCC"). On the way, my fearless son Matthew cried out — "STOP THE CAR!" The reason? Satellite dishes were on the sidewalk in front of an electronics' store. With camera rolling, we both jumped out of our armor plated vehicle — much to the consternation of our security aids — and spoke to the proprietor about the kind and cost of satellite equipment being bought by Iraqis. We learned that, yes, HOT BIRD 6, is the popular satellite in Iraq as well as all of the Middle East, but that everyone is now buying the new digital receivers. As the camera still rolled, I actually purchased a complete dish and receiver for $110.00! WOW! We gave it to our new chaplain friend as a small thank you for his great kindness to us. As a result, we are now converting our TBN signal to digital and guess what? For the same price we can now add the Church Channel, plus JC-TV, our youth channel! Is our God awesome, or what?
Ah, dear Partners, I say again — the doors are wide open! Spiritual hunger is overwhelming everywhere I go. From India to Iraq — from Beijing to Baghdad — the cry is the same: "Give us the answer to ‘EARTH'S SORROWING CRY'!" You know we have that answer — His Name is Jesus — that Name above all names!
Jan and I wait for your response, your call, your letter, your prayers, your support. The eyes of those precious pastors still linger in my memory and my dreams. Will you help us help them? I know you will!
We love you for loving us for 31 years now! Yes, Happy Birthday, dear TBN, this May 28th! And thank YOU for loving precious souls — now even in Baghdad, Iraq!
Paul and Matt on the parade grounds in front of Saddam Hussein's former "Arch of Triumph," a 150 foot replica of his hands holding crossed swords.
We SALUTE all of our wonderful, brave, military HEROES serving in Iraq! What an honor to meet with those who are putting their lives on the line—every day—for OUR FREEDOM. Please keep all of the U.S. and coalition forces in your prayers!
Dr. Anis Shorrosh (right) joined Paul in greeting Haitham Akram Jazrawi, pastor of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Kirkuk, Iraq. With the help of TBN, Pastor Jazrawi is purchasing satellite receiving dishes for Christian churches throughout Iraq!
Thank you to JAN and to all of the precious PARTNERS who donate toys to her SMILE OF A CHILD outreach! Paul was able to deliver several hundred toys to this dear pastor who operates a Christian school in Iraq.
A highlight of Paul's trip to Baghdad was when he purchased a satellite dish from an electronics' store. Forbidden under Saddam Hussein, Iraqis are now free to own these "windows to the world" — and doors for the Gospel!
Even under the persecution of Saddam Hussein, the church of Jesus Christ still flourished in Iraq! Paul felt honored—and humbled—to stand before this group of precious Iraqi pastors who know what it is to truly suffer for the cause of the Gospel.
Though Christians are in the minority in Jordan, they enjoy a degree of religious freedom there. While in Amman, Paul had the great joy of addressing a group of about 40-50 pastors and Christian leaders from various denominations.
In Amman, Jordan, Paul was greeted with what has become a familiar sight worldwide: rooftop satellite receiving dishes!