By Mark Ellis –
Since he started Emergency Ministry Services in 2007, Rick Yeomans has offered trauma counseling at 10 mass shooting sites — places etched in the memory like Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. He also participated in the relief effort in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.
Recently, he made his first trip to the Middle East as part of a team working with Horizons International. He went to the area of the horrific Beirut explosion caused by 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate improperly stored in a warehouse at the port, resulting in 204 deaths, 6500 injuries, and 300,000 left homeless.
One of the men he counseled had recently become a Christian before the explosion. He and his 12-year-old son were fishing on the shore at the time of the blast, which experts estimated carried the force of 1.1 kilotons of TNT.
“The boy saw a drone go by and moments later the explosion happened,” Rick says. The force of the blast blew both father and son into the water. The boy came up first, looking for his father. Then the father came up gasping. Neither one of them had any injuries or even a scratch on their bodies.
All the men who had been fishing near them were floating face down in the water, dead.
During his counseling sessions, he met a woman who had come to Beirut from Syria with her husband, escaping the ravages of the Syrian Civil War.
“They lived in a ghetto and a woman who had become a Christian invited her to church. Her husband wouldn’t let her go.”
She said, “I’m going anyway,” to the chagrin of her husband.
She had an encounter with Jesus at the church service and was born again.
Then something unexpected happened. A few days later her husband died.
“She began to pray for him, calling out the name of Jesus over his body. The neighbor lady who invited her to church heard a commotion and came over,” Rick reports.
They began to pray over the woman’s husband. He body was cold and lifeless. “Ten minutes later he began blinking his eyes and stood to his feet. That Sunday he went to that church and gave his heart to Jesus!”
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)
During his stay in Beirut, Rick roomed with two young men, both Muslims who had come to Christ.
One of the young men, Odye, had become a Christian in Syria while at the university studying psychology.
He found Jesus at a bakery owned by a Christian. He saw such love and kindness emanating from the owner that one day he asked, “What makes you so happy all the time?”
“Jesus changed my heart and has given me a love for people,” the owner replied.
“I want that same love,” Odye told him, and he surrendered his heart and life to Jesus shortly after that.
“When he became a Christian his family put a death warrant on him,” Rick says. Odye began to boldly share his faith. “If you know about that part of the world, talking about Jesus is a dangerous thing to do. He was arrested by the government and put in prison, in a four by four cell.”
“They stripped him of his clothes and threw him in the prison in the dark. After a month he had not received one meal. He knew he was going to die. He was so terrified the guards would kill him if he said anything.”
Odye began to cry out to Jesus. “One night his cell filled with light and Jesus came to him in person, touched his forehead and said, “It’s going to be okay, trust me.”
“For two more months that man survived without eating a thing. He was released out of prison and the judge said, ‘Don’t ever share Jesus again.’
Odye fled Syria and went to Beirut, where he and another man roomed with Rick.
The trip sharpened Rick’s insights about life in the Middle East. “I saw the hardness and anger of the Muslim outlook on life. They are angry and distrustful,” he noted.
“Jesus is moving in that part of the world in a profound way. My faith grew. Can you be born again twice? I came home so filled and fired up. Sometimes we forget who we serve. We serve a God who can turn nations around. We serve a God who can raise the dead. We serve a God who can do things people say can’t be done. I got to see that every single day I was there.
“This is a place where women are walking around covered, but Jesus is walking the alley ways, saving people himself and revealing himself to people.”
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