In my last post, I showed how ISIS is causing Muslims to question their faith. At the core of their questioning, they must decide who the true Muslims are—themselves or the brutal members of ISIS.
Many people around the world are asking, “Are the members of ISIS true Muslims or merely terrorists seeking religious legitimacy?”
President Obama has repeatedly stated that the religion of violent extremists savaging Iraq and Syria is irrelevant. Many have criticized him for refusing to call ISIS Islamic terrorists. But he insists, “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
Yet ISIS unashamedly claims that they are true and great Muslims.
So who is the true Muslim?
If we ask this question about Christianity, isn’t it logical to say whoever most closely follows the teaching of Jesus and His example is the most true Christian? The definition of a good Christian is not subjective, but comes from solid criteria. Whichever people follow the example of their holy book and their leader, they are the better adherents to that faith.
This same criteria will tell us who is a good Muslim: the one who lives out the teaching of the Quran and follows the example of Mohammed more closely.
Using that objective criteria, we must conclude that the members of ISIS are very good Muslims. What they are doing is based on numerous Quranic verses and the practices of the Prophet Mohammad. Yes, indeed they are following Islam more closely than “Moderate Muslims” who ignore those call-to-violence verses in the Quran, and downplay their own historical record of what Prophet Mohammad did.
ISIS is challenging all Muslims to have another look at their faith. Many Muslims are taking up that challenge, looking at the Quran more objectively, and coming to the conclusion that the root of their problem is not ISIS but Islam itself.
What ISIS is doing to Sunni Muslims, the Islamic Republic of Iran has done to Shiite Muslims in Iran. After over 35 years of Islamic rule, Iranian Muslims have come to the conclusion that the root of their problems is not political but spiritual. They vast majority have come to believe that the problem is not with the Islamic government but with Islam itself.
Please pray for the many Muslims that are seeking refuge—physically and spiritually—from the ravages of the Islamic world. They are open and ready for the Gospel. Pray that the Church and the nations will be open to them. Let’s pray that all of us be free from fear and hatred towards Muslims, and instead, be filled with God’s immense love for them.
And pray for the hundreds of thousands of Muslim-background believers in Iran. Through Iran Alive Ministries, I have seen multitudes of Muslims in Iran seek refuge in Jesus. They are repulsed by the violence and hatred and are attracted to the love, joy, and peace that Jesus offers. Coming from darkness, they value the light even more. They value their new faith in Jesus so much that they are ready to live and die for Him. And they are closely living out His example, enduring persecution with humility and honor, loving their enemies, and spreading the Kingdom of God.
Join me in supporting these true Christians.
A mother finds her young daughter alive after a bombing and kidnapping at the school. She decides to flee Syria that very hour.
A father waits in line every day to cross through a government-controlled area to his family. Every day he watches the soldiers shoot three or four people in the line, not knowing if today will be his turn to die.
As millions of refugees pour out of Syria and Iraq, ISIS is helping the cause of Christ. Muslims fleeing to neighboring countries and the European Union are converting to Christianity at a high rate. Why is this so?
This week and next, we will ask two questions about ISIS:
- How is ISIS pushing Muslims away from Islam?
- Are members of ISIS true Muslims or not?
Last year I predicted, “The brutality of ISIS will cause millions of Muslims to have an objective look at Islam. Many of them will come to reject Islam and become open to the message of the Gospel.” This is exactly what has been happening.
Workers in refugee camps tell me that amid the suffering and anxiety, Muslims are becoming open to the message of Christ. Now as refugees pour over the borders, we are seeing many more flee not only their countries but also their Islamic faith. Hundreds of Muslims seeking asylum in Germany are choosing to follow Jesus. One church in Berlin welcomed 450 new members in a short time. They believe; they are baptized; they hope.
How is ISIS pushing Muslims away from Islam?
Refugees are escaping Iraq and Syria, both countries torn by civil war that pits one Muslim against another. More than half the 22 million Syrians have been forced to leave their homes. Everywhere, houses are destroyed by ISIS or President Assad’s Shiite government, security forces harass civilians, and armed militants bomb and attack. In Iraq, ISIS is threatening the takeover of the whole country. The people are hurting, and they believe rightly that it is the Islamic practices of ISIS that are hurting them.
The brutality of ISIS is causing Muslims to question their faith. We must understand, this questioning is a major spiritual breakthrough for any Muslim. Jesus commands us to seek and ask, and Paul commends Bereans for questioning his teachings. But, in Islam, questioning your faith is not allowed. Those who question Islam are often shunned as infidels and are punished—sometimes with lashes. So when a Muslim comes to a point in his/her spiritual journey to start asking questions, he has already taken steps towards spiritual freedom. So their suffering in the hands of ISIS causes them to ask, “What is true Islam?” Then after looking at Islam objectively, they come to conclusion that the problem is not just with ISIS, but there is something fundamentally wrong with Islam itself. That along with the love and support they receive from Christians causes a large number of them embrace Christianity.
In my next blog, we will look at the question “Are the followers of ISIS good Muslims?”
The answer may shock you.
In my last post, I wrote about how this nuclear deal will negatively impact the U.S. government and its citizens (click here), and also how it will benefit the Islamic government of Iran. Today, we’ll look at how this deal will impact the people of Iran and especially how it will affect the spiritual revival that is going on in Iran.
3) Bad Deal – for the people of Iran (physically)
The people of Iran—and specially the younger generation—have been celebrating this nuclear deal by dancing in the streets. The reason for their celebration, however, is totally different from why Iran’s government celebrates. The Islamic government of Iran rejoices because they were thrown a lifeline. It now has the resources to extend its existence and power and to pursue its goals nationally and internationally.
On the other hand, the people of Iran have been praising this deal because:
- They think the removal of sanctions and the influx of more than $100 billion will improve their economic condition.
- They think that this is the start of a normalized relationship with the U.S. Yes, most Iranians, and especially the younger generation, love and admire the United States as a country as well as its people. If it were their decision, they would want a close relationship with the U.S. You should know that “Death to America” is the goal of only Iran’s Islamic government—not Iran’s people.
The people of Iran are happy because of these two hopes. But I believe they will soon be very disappointed because:
- This money will NOT improve the economic condition of the country and will not benefit its people. On the contrary, this money will be used to oppress the people even more. The government will buy and develop a better technology to control and suppress its people. I believe that the Iranian government will use this money to establish a National Internet—just like China—to disconnect its people from the outside world.
- Since the supreme leader, Khamenei, has already declared that the U.S. is still Iran’s number one enemy, its relationship with Iran will not normalize anytime soon. Iran’s policy towards the U.S. will not change.
4) Good Deal – for the people of Iran (spiritually)
Over the last few years, Iran’s government has totally destroyed its political opposition. At the moment no political movement or leader is a threat. The only situation that alarms the Iranian government is the growth of Christianity. It is the only group out of their control. That is the reason that the persecution of Christians has increased drastically in the last two years.
I believe as the number of Christians and the house churches grows, Iran’s government will increase its persecution even more. It will allocate more money and personnel to stop this transformation of its people. As a result, more Christians will be arrested and jailed. Terrorist acts against Iranian Christians outside the United States will start. (Please pray for us as once again we are receiving serious threats.)
But this new wave of persecution will strengthen the church in Iran. First, the disappointment, hopelessness, and disillusionment of people in Iran will increase. This will make millions more Iranian Muslims open to the message of the Gospel. Second, the persecution of Christians will strengthen and purify the church. Since the rise of persecution two years ago, we have seen the rise of a generation of young leaders (under 25) who are not afraid of the government—not even afraid of dying for their faith in Jesus. We will see more Christians rise up with that type of deep relationship with the Lord and commitment to serve Him.
In spiritual terms, then, the nuclear agreement will become, with much heartache, a good deal for the Iranian people.
Please pray for us at Iran Alive as the Lord has graciously positioned us to have a major impact in Iran. Over the last 14 years, by His Grace, we have established a heart connection with millions of Iranians inside Iran, have been instrumental in bringing tens of thousands of Iranian Muslims to Christ, and had a major part in establishing hundreds of house churches in tens of cities in Iran.
We are now starting new underground house church networks. The government of Iran knows that we have such plans and understandably is not happy about it. We are already getting a new wave of threats. We need your prayer for protection. We also need your support so that we will not shrink back in ministry but will take full advantage of this opening of heaven in Iran to establish a strong church that will not be wiped out but be strengthened by persecution.
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Many have asked me, “Is the nuclear deal with Iran a good deal or a bad deal?” The answer depends on whose chair you’re sitting in. In this blog and the next, I will share how this deal will impact four people groups.
1) Good Deal – for the Islamic government of Iran
The Islamic government of Iran is the total winner in the negotiation. They got almost everything they wanted without giving up much. They are celebrating this victory. Yes, they consider the deal a victory because they are getting the immediate lifting of sanctions, at least a $100 billion release of funds, and the ability to sell their oil on the world market with merely a pledge to do and not do certain things in the future—a pledge that could easily prove to be just empty words.
How did this happen?
President Obama and John Kerry negotiated from a weak position. You know, to be a good negotiator, you should show your opponent that you are ready and willing to walk away from the negotiation table. The U.S. delegation showed that they desperately needed this deal, didn’t have a plan B, and couldn’t walk away from it. That position caused them to have a weaker hand in the negotiation game. The American delegates wanted a deal at any cost. The Iranian delegates knew this and took full advantage. As a result, U.S. delegates had to agree to a mediocre deal that will not stop Iran from making the atom bomb. At best (that is if Iran does not cheat), it will only slow down its development.
To justify this mediocre deal, President Obama has repeatedly stated that America’s two choices were either this deal or war—ignoring a third option of continued sanctions, which looked like they were working.
For the Iranian government, this deal throws them a lifeline. It injects fresh life and money that they needed desperately. They limped to the negotiation table, took the offered head chair, and received the winning lottery ticket—a windfall of $100 billion in cash. Before, they were in trouble existentially; now they have exactly what they need to maintain power for at least the next 15 years.
As for their required responsibilities, they paid for their lottery windfall with “credit”—a pledge to behave. Iran has broken UN agreements in past years, building enrichment facilities in the desert. Nothing will stop them from doing the same thing again, this time under their cities.
How will this money help the Iranian government?
The Islamic government of Iran will use this money to oppress its people, strengthen its military and its defense system, advance its goals around the globe (such as Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, Syria, and Palestine), develop new nuclear facilities (this time in cities where they cannot be detected), and buy the nuclear technology it needs in the black market—hence speeding up its goal to develop a nuclear bomb.
2) Bad Deal – for the US government and its people
Even if the Iranian government follows through with its pledges, does not cheat, and does not develop nuclear bomb, this deal does not solve the problem of Iranian’s threat to the peace in the world, and specifically to U.S. and Israel. It only delays it. So President Obama will not have to face Nuclear Iran, but his successors will.
The supreme leader, Khamenei, has declared with very clear words that “there would be no change in the country’s hostile relations with the US or its anti-Israel approach in regional policies, regardless of the fate of the breakthrough nuclear deal with world powers.” We have to understand that in the Iranian government’s organized rallies, when they chant “Death to America, Death to Israel,” they are not just badmouthing the United States and Israel; rather, they are declaring their plans and intentions. If the Iranian government had the power to do so, it would bring death to the U.S. and Israel even this afternoon.
I believe in the next few months and years, the billions of dollars that are given to the Iranian government will come back and bite the U.S. around the world. The U.S. government and its people will pay for it. Iran will continue to oppose U.S. policies in the Middle East with a greater capacity. The fading presence and influence of the United States in the Middle East will almost vanish all together. Even worse, unfortunately, we will
see that the Iranian government will finance increased terrorist attacks against U.S. establishments and its citizens around the world and even inside the United States. With this money, they will try literally to bring “Death to America.”
U.S. and Allies Warn Iran Over Nuclear ‘Deception’
I often get the question, “What is the most common miracle you hear about inside of Iran?” While the Lord certainly is revealing Himself to people through dreams and visions everyday, I have to say that the most common miracle is radical life transformation. Take Mahmoud, for example. He admittedly abused his own children for any reason he could find. However, after hearing about the grace and love of Christ, he stopped, repented and has been utterly transformed. This is a true miracle of the Lord!
Here is a copy of an email that Mahmoud recently sent our Counseling Center Ministry:
My name is Mahmoud and I live in Iran.
I am a father of 6 and have been watching your programs for several months. As I watch your programs I feel a sense of security and peace. I realized why I felt this when you talked about the characters of our Heavenly Father. I have been a very angry father to my children, to the point that I would hit my children for any reason. This attitude has developed tremendous fear in my children. As a result, my relationship with my children was destroyed.
Your programs have had such an impact on me that I have started to look inward. What I found terrified me. To tell you the truth, I didn’t like who I was.
As a result, I decided that I want to be more like our heavenly Father and began to change my attitude. I gave my heart to Jesus and asked Him to work in me.
I thank you for helping me develop a loving and caring relationship with my children. I owe this transformation to you because you were the vessel that brought the message of Love into my home an help me realize that I need to be like my heavenly Father.
Join me in celebrating the miracle of this transformed life and the peace that has entered this home. The Lord is about the business of transforming Iran into a Christian nation in this generation!
In Iran, there are no above ground churches. Even underground churches, while effective and growing, are only accessible to 1% of all believers due to fear and security. That is where our Global Church for Iran, or Church 7 strategy, provides a lifeline for the estimated 2 million believers who have no other option for church of any kind. No option for fellowship, discipleship, training or encouragement that is readily available and enjoyed by those of us in the West.
Watch this exciting video to see what Iran Alive Ministries is doing about this problem.
I will give further updates as they develop and know that Amir and his family appreciates your prayers.