Defeating ISIS—Quenching the Flames of Jihad

Some people hear me talk about Islam and think I hate Muslims because I want to offer them something other than their beliefs—and because I speak truth about what the Quran teaches. Do you think I hate Muslims? Islam was mine from birth. I practiced it for many years. These were and are my people. I have received the threats on my life. And I love them still. They are God’s treasure. I am giving my life for them.

Do you love Muslims? Perhaps you fear what they might do in your city and around the world. Perhaps you fear that they might spark a blaze of terrorism that destroys all that you own and love. What can you do when the threat of jihad presses in like an uncontrolled fire that turns on a whim and consumes everything in its path?

soldiers against a sunset
Islamic soldiers

Two recent events are pressing on my heart this week: the California wildfires and the war on ISIS. They are completely unrelated…and yet the same.

We Have Backed ISIS into a Corner

Last week, American-backed forces drove ISIS out of the caliphate’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, in Syria. You probably have seen the news reports. While some Western officials are celebrating, the mood for many is somber. European officials tasked with protecting their citizens from attacks—like the Champs Elysees killings, the Manchester concert bombing, the Barcelona van ramming, and the London subway bomb—know that the battle is far from over. American forces, hopefully, have learned from the Taliban and Al Qaeda what happens when a void is left in Islamic jihad leadership. The battle is far from over.

The reality is that when you kill a Muslim, 100 more will rise up in his place. The theology and culture of Islam—the Spirit of Islam—is anger, violence and revenge. Allah asked Mohammed to take revenge. Islam gives honor to those who kill and die for the faith. An Islamic jihadist facing defeat and dishonor is like a cornered animal—he’s at his most dangerous state.

The Enemy Is Not Just ISIS; It’s the Theology of Islam

Let’s make no mistake—ISIS is not the sole enemy. The enemy is the Spirit of Islam. There have been many “lone wolf” attacks, and yes, many have been connected with ISIS. But ISIS is not the common denominator; Islam is the common denominator. Islam makes people captive to fear and anger.

As Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammed al-Adnani said before his death last year, “True defeat is the loss of willpower and desire to fight. We would be defeated and you victorious only if you were able to remove the Quran from the Muslims’ hearts.”

We may have pushed ISIS back, but we are far from claiming victory. Lone wolves and sleeper cells will continue to be inspired by whichever leader or organization takes up the mission of the Quran: Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS—or whatever we will call ISIS 2.0.

The Gospel Solves the Problem of Revenge

Yes, it is good to make terrorists weak. Yes, we must stand up and fight. I’m not saying we shouldn’t. A nation must defend itself. Military might can be a good thing. But it will never be a long-term solution to peace. For this enemy, defeat only kindles more anger and fanaticism.

In past weeks, a video of a tree in California burning from the inside out went viral. This tree and this wildfire that killed many and destroyed much is like an observant Muslim lit up by the Spirit of Islam. You can attack the flames and spray them with water, you can build barriers and backfires to contain and defeat, but hot spots will smolder and rekindle and flames will leap from one place to another. The heat will sustain itself under the ashes, in the heart of a tree—wherever it can find protection.

The only way to truly put out the fire is to quench its burning desire to reignite—for a Muslim, this means we must solve the problem of revenge. We must love them with the gospel. As the Bible teaches us, we have to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

I often feel people think my message sounds like a pastor’s broken record, an empty solution that ignores the realities of terrorism and war. But I have seen the results over and over again. The love and self-sacrifice of Jesus cools the ground and quenches the flame in the Muslim heart. They no longer have to be angry and seek honor through revenge. The good news is that millions of Muslims are also fed up with the message of hatred, violence, and revenge. They are questioning the teachings of Islam and are open to the message of the gospel.

When a Muslim hears and accepts the gospel, Jesus transforms them. He puts out the destructive fire and makes them a light to hundreds. And right now, Jesus is turning many fires into lights in Iran and the Middle East. The mainstream media won’t tell you this. The Iranian government won’t tell you this. But Jesus is the great firefighter for the Muslim world. So the violence is causing Muslims—who aren’t allowed to question—to question Islam. And Jesus is drawing people to him.

Do you love Muslims? God does. He sees all the destruction caused by fire and jihad, whether in California, Europe, or the Middle East, and he weeps for the many people here and there, who are his treasure. They need the gospel. If you have it, help me share it.


Related articles:

Coker, Margaret, Eric Schmitt, and Rukmini Callimachi. “With Loss of Its Caliphate, ISIS May Return to Guerrilla Roots.” The New York Times, October 18, 2017, sec. Middle East.

McDermott. Matthew. “Watch an Eerie Tree Burning from the Inside in California Wildfire.” Video on NationalGeographic.com. October 17, 2017.

Lifeline from Nuclear Deal Helps Iran Oppress Its Own People

Last summer I said that the nuclear deal gave the Islamic government of Iran a lifeline. I predicted that the money would be used to (1) oppress the people of Iran more and (2) persecute the Iranian Christians outside Iran, including Iran Alive.

In the last few weeks there have been several news stories about the government of Iran starting two new organizations:

1) They have created a “non-visible” police. These are 7,000 undercover, plain-clothed agents who will mingle with people and have full authority to arrest anybody who does not follow Islamic law or who criticizes the regime. 7541.jpgThe government made this program public because they want to put fear in the hearts of the people. They know this program will make Iranians afraid of each other and afraid of sharing anything in public with anybody they do not know because that person could be an agent.

The undercover police are one way the government is increasing its oppression of the people, by making them afraid even to talk with each other. This will make public witnessing even more dangerous to Christians. Please pray that members of our many underground churches will continue to be bold to share their faith despite the danger.

2) They have created a new organization to stop and destroy their “opponents” outside Iran. The goal of this organization is to do whatever it takes to annihilate any activities outside Iran that could threaten the existence of the Islamic government of Iran. The fact is that there is currently no movement inside or outside of Iran strong enough to threaten the future of the current regime, except one: the growth of Christianity and its underground house churches.

The government has destroyed their political opposition rather successfully inside and outside Iran. The only opposition they feel is out of control is the Christians with their fast growing numbers and house churches. Iran’s leaders are well aware of the impact outside Christian organizations such as Iran Alive have on the masses inside Iran. So the number one goal of this new organization is to stop or slow down activities of Iranian Christian organizations outside Iran.

They are publicizing this program widely to put fear in hearts of Iranian Christians worldwide. They may even murder some of them as they have done in the past, to tell us all that they are serious. We desperately need prayer covering for Iran Alive and myself as the threats against us are increasing in number and seriousness.

A Threat with a Silver Lining

These moves by the Iranian government and the police of Tehran are a serious threat not only to Iranian women, whom much of the media has been most concerned about due to the dress code laws, but also to Christians inside and outside Iran who are willing to die on behalf of Jesus to share His love with others there.

But we can take comfort in the fact that the government felt compelled to initiate these organizations. It shows that they know they are losing—or have lost—the backing of the people. Most of the nation, especially the young people, does not want this government, or its policies, or the Islamic faith it adheres to. Many have taken to social media to protest the new policies.

We believe as the government increases its persecution of Christians, the number of Iranian Muslims coming to Christ will also increase—as well as their strength in faith and commitment. The Islamic government of Iran is on a losing spiral.

Let’s pray for the persecuted Church in Iran, and let’s do whatever we can to add fuel to the fire of revival that the Lord has started there.

 

ISIS—True Muslims or Not?

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. ManyISIS-poses-for-photo-Twitter-640x480 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.

Related:

President Obama Says ISIS ‘Not Religious Leaders, They are Terrorists’

ISIS—Helping the Cause of Christ?

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 isis-terrorChrist. 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:

  1. How is ISIS pushing Muslims away from Islam?
  2. 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.

Related Articles:

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered —#4Muslim Refugees Are Being Baptized and Converting to Christianity, Says Berlin Pastor