I am writing this article on September 11th, 2016…fifteen years to the day that America was attacked by terrorists in the worst terrorist attack in this country’s history. And yet, fifteen years later, terrorism around the world and here at home, is more of a threat than ever.
I just finished reading a fascinating book called The Great War of our Time by a former top CIA officer. Towards the end he poses an interesting question and statement about how military action alone is not going to stop terrorism as it is not dealing with the root issue’s. I believe what he speaks to below is actually the place for the church to step in. As the founder and president of the mission organization I am with has put it: bombs don’t change hearts…but Bibles can. And for those of us who are Christians (followers of Jesus) we can’t cave into fear but need to pray (even for our “enemies”) and take action as God leads us. Note carefully the conclusion this CIA officer comes to:
“To win the war over the longer term, we and our allies must address the issues that create terrorists in the first place. We must address the disease as well as the symptoms. We must undermine the jihadist appeal to disenchanted young Muslims. We must discredit the terrorists’ narrative that hatred and violence are the only mechanisms for dealing with the modern world and the resulting pressures on Islam. This effort essentially requires winning the war of ideas. But it also requires minimizing the number of disenchanted young Muslims through economic and social development. Counter-radicalization is a two-part effort. Counter-radicalization has not been a major focus of the United States since 9/ 11, but action on this front is just as important as action on the intelligence, law enforcement, and military fronts. There have been steps in this direction, but much more needs to be done. Developing the policies to get at the root causes of why young men and some women join terrorist groups has never really gotten off the ground. For every hour that I spent in the Situation Room talking about counter-radicalization, I spent a thousand hours talking about dealing with young men who had already become radicalized. The dollars spent by our government on programs related to counter-radicalization are an infinitesimally small percentage of the government’s overall CT budget. It is not unreasonable to ask, “Why have we not attacked the problem at its roots?” (Morell, Michael. The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism–From al Qa’ida to ISIS (p. 319). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition).
One of the consequences of especially ISIS is the current refugee crisis. From Syria alone there are five million refugee’s! One simple and special way you can take action is by providing stuffed animals to Syrian refugee children that contain a solar powered audio device in its “stomach pouch” preloaded with the bible and bible lessons and stories…in Arabic!
This is a practical way you can make a real difference. I encourage you to include your friends, church, home group, homeschool network or Sunday school class in this effort! The root of every issue is spiritual. It truly is a battle for the minds, hearts and souls of men, women and children. Click here to view/print our Flyer for this project: syriananimalbibles or click here to Donate to this special project. It is estimated that 65% of Syrian refugee’s are illiterate, so what a fantastic way to ensure they hear the Good News of the Gospel!
ServeNow is on the front-lines of this truly spiritual war. From other evangelistic and discipleship material to Bibles being sent into Middle Eastern countries (that will remain unnamed here for security purposes) as well as to reach refugee’s in Europe with the Good News; we believe God’s Word is what transforms hearts and lives! You can click here to provide Bibles and other literature around the world in 45 different languages, impacting over 30 countries: Provide Bibles. Or contact me for more details and specific projects you can participate in or make possible!
There is no denying that in the past fifteen years we have continued to see around the world and even here in America (though on a lesser scale than 9/11) one Islamic related terrorist attack after another. My sense is that this is only the beginning and things may very well only get worse. However, that does not mean we should become discouraged, disheartened, paralyzed or crippled by fear. Now is the time to actually serve with a sense of urgency, recognizing that especially among Muslim immigrants and even in the Muslim world in general, God is moving in some extraordinary, supernatural ways! (I write about this a little in this previous article: My Passionate Plea). I know of a church in Europe for example, whose pastor I met earlier this year, that recently water-baptized 21 new believers, who were refugee’s from Muslim countries. Three of them were even former ISIS soldiers! Another used to be a Muslim leader who was one of the worst persecutor of Christians prior to his encounter with Jesus and conversion experience.
God is using the current refugee crises and even terrorist attacks to bring people to himself. For example, when I was pastoring a church in New Jersey, I met a local woman named Jennifer Sands, who shared a few times her story at our church. Her husband was killed on 9/11 as he was at work in the Twin Towers. Yet, through this horrible event, Jennifer eventually came to trust in Christ and now travels around the US and the world sharing her story of God’s redemption. She has even written several books that you can find on her website: www.jennifersands.com.
I would also recommend some other books as resources that I have read this year. One that is secular in nature but helpful in understanding is called: The World in Conflict, Understanding the World’s Trouble Spots. Another to intelligently engage in prayer would be Pray for the World. A few others specifically dealing with terrorism, ISIS and the refugee crisis would be: Defying ISIS and Serving God in an Migrant Crisis and Answering Jihad and also The Mind of Terror.
We must engage our minds and hearts! We must also pray and take specific action as God leads us. It’s cute to say we will never forget but what are you doing to actually make a difference? For example, it may mean befriending Muslims right here all around us. At one of our banquets in NJ earlier this year, one of the attendee’s invited her Muslim friend who came and heard the stories we were sharing of God’s redemption around the world in Christ. This young Muslim girl (dressed in her hijab) even took one of the books we use around the world called The Basic Things You Need to Know About Jesus. Later I found out she had started attending some bible studies as well!
Those same booklets that we use around the world in 13 different languages (Arabic being the most recent!) are available on our website for purchase and use here in the US: Basic Series books. Why not engage people from all nations right here at home while partnering and supporting our efforts around the world? You can give these out and make disciples “here” and “there!”
Let me close with this. Take a moment to read the last chapter or very ending of the book of Acts. Notice, how it never really “ends.” Rather it ends with Paul stating how the Gospel will go to the Gentiles (non-Jewish) and they will listen. You and I live in a time in human history where the Spirit of God is still working through the church and his faithful people! We live in a dangerous but also an exciting time, where men and women, young and old, from every nation are coming to faith in Jesus! We have the opportunity to not only read about bible prophecy but be a part of it coming to pass! Let us not give into fear or stereotypes. Let us also not give into hate or revenge; but let us let our light shine and love even our enemies (Matthew 5). Is this not the example of our wonderful Savior who loved us even while we were still sinners?
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:6-8