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.

How Do You Provide Church for 2 Million Believers in Iran?

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.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #5

5.  Will the US and Iran partner in Iraq to stop ISIS?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
  1. Both have similar interests: to help the current Shiite Government of Iraq maintain control and stop the Sunni ISIS from taking over Iraq.
  2. They may partner in some ways to help stop ISIS but will never acknowledge it publicly.
  3. Iran has a major influence in Iraq where the majority of the population is Shiites and the government is led by Shiites.
  4. Iran’s goal has been to get the US out of Iraq and be the sole influencer of the Shiite Iraqi regime. They are happy that the US has pulled out of Iraq and do not want to see the US’s influence and presence increase. Therefore, they may work with the US for the short time but will want the US out of Iraq as soon as ISIS is stopped.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #4

4.  How the events in Iraq will impact His Kingdom?christian-persecution

  1. Christians in Iraq and Syria have been persecuted and have been leaving as refugees.
  2. Under ISIS, the killing and persecution of Christians will dramatically increase. It has already started and there will be a mass exodus of Christians.
  3. 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 what happened in Iran. Millions of Syrian refugees have seen the brutality of Islamist “freedom fighters” of ISIS. Many of them are coming to Christ in refugee camps in Turkey.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #3

3.  Who is ISIS?

  1. ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and (greater) Syria.

    ISIS members are painting the Arabic letter N, for “Nasrani,” or Nazarene on homes as a way of identifying unwanted Christians.
    ISIS members are painting the Arabic letter N, for “Nasrani,” or Nazarene on homes as a way of identifying unwanted Christians in Mosul, Iraq.
  2. They are the coalition of Sunni forces in Iraq and Syria.
  3. Their immediate goal is to topple two Shiite governments in Iraq and Syria.
  4. Their intermediate goal is to have a unified Sunni state that covers the whole region including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.
  5. Their long-term goal is to bring back a worldwide rule of Caliphates. They believe that they are mandated by the Quran to do so and use as much violence as needed to accomplish that goal.
  6. They are much stronger than Al-Qaeda in numbers, unity, and finances. They have performed mass executions, even including women and children. They are so violent and brutal that Al-Qaeda looks conservative and moderate comparatively.
  7. When in power, they will be the number one source of terrorism in the world.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #2

2.  What is the difference between Shiites and Sunnis?

  1. Their differences go back to 632 AD when Mohammad died.

    Map showing distribution of Sunni (light green) and Shiite (dark green) Muslims
    Map showing distribution of Sunni (light green) and Shiite (dark green) Muslims
  2. The issue that divided them centered around whom must rule the Islamic Empire after the death of Mohammad.
  3. Sunnis believe that the Caliphs should rule, which is historically what happened.
  4. Shiites believe that the family bloodline of Mohammad should rule and the Caliphs were evil people who unrightfully took over the power after Mohammad.
  5. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. 85% are Sunnis and 15% are Shiites. Shiites are the majority only in Iran and Iraq.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #1

Major events are happening in Iraq. They can have biblical significance regarding the prophecies for that region. Many Americans have asked me how the current events in Iraq are impacting Iran. Over the next several days, I will answer 5 questions, which I hope will help you better understand the situation.

ISIS Militants are terrorizing Iraq & Syria.
ISIS Militants are terrorizing Iraq & Syria.
  1.  What is happening in Iraq?
    1. A Sunni group called ISIS is trying to take over Iraq by force. They already have control of many cities in the north and east of Iraq.
    2. It is possible that Iraq as a country will cease to exist soon and divide into 3 countries: Shiite (south), Kurds (far north), Sunnis (north and west).
    3. Saddam was a Sunni and suppressed the Shiites, who are the majority in Iraq. The new government under Jalal Talabani is ruled by Shiites. It has fired top officials that were Sunnis and in general, have marginalized the minority Sunnis in Iraq. So Sunnis in Iraq have joined forces with Sunnis in Syria to topple the Shiite Iraqi government.