I am writing from the edge of the war-zone in Iraq and Syria. As a follower of Jesus I am convinced the solution to ISIS and other religious extremists is to follow the example of Jesus. He stepped into the Middle East when it was convulsed by an occupying army using torture and plunder to subdue the people. And what did He do?
Jesus went on a grace offensive, reaching out in love and offering forgiveness! What a compelling example of a radical response – more radical than terrorist radicals by far.
Paul the apostle says we are not in a political or military battle against earthly religions and despots. He says it is a spiritual battle we are in, not against people but against spiritual powers working through people (Ephesians 6:12). If that is true, and with everything in me I believe it is true, we have to respond as our supreme commander taught us to respond.
As an American, I am tempted to see the crisis here in the Middle East as a political battle to be won by bombing the ISIS troops. But what will happen if we kill all 20,000 ISIS soldiers? I think there is a good chance they will be replaced by another 30,000 fanatics. And if we kill them, others will join ISIS and Al-Queda, and fight back with even more extreme tactics. I am not against using military force to oppose evil, but I believe there is a higher way, if I can call it that.
The higher way is more extreme than the extremists! It is the way of Jesus followers going to dangerous places, putting our lives at risk, and sacrificing all we have and hold dear to bring the message of God’s love in Christ. It is the way of caring for war widows and healing suffering soldiers, of taking the gospel into the strongholds of ISIS.
Did you know that Jesus is leading the battle for ISIS? Reports are coming out now of ISIS leaders turning to Jesus. I have no verification of those reports, but I believe it is like Jesus to do that. He is on the front lines, fighting valiantly for the hearts and lives of people. Right now… He is there, among ISIS leaders in Iraq and Syria. He is appearing to them like He did to Paul on the road to Damascus, on his way to kill and imprison believers.
Jesus’ weapons are the cross, forgiveness, and the sacrificial service of His followers laying down their lives to share the good news.
I knew from my previous visits to Jordan and Lebanon that God is drawing Syrian refugees to Jesus in great numbers, but nothing in my 49 years of mission experiences compares to what I have seen in the last few days…
Yesterday I was with a young father who had been involved in the intelligence service of the Syrian army, sickened by being ordered to kill innocent people, so he fled from Syria. He has been reading the four gospels, what Muslims call the Injil. He told me yesterday, "All the descendants of Adam have turned away from God. God looked for a perfect messenger to speak to people who turned away from Him, but he could find none. So he sent His Spirit on Mary and she conceived Jesus, and then he gave Himself as a sacrifice to take our place for our sins.” Amazing!
One of our workers told me about Hara. She had a dream of Jesus last autumn, when He looked her in the eye and said, "I want what is rightfully mine." She is still having dreams, including one a few weeks ago in which God called her to convene a group of women in her home to encourage one another, grow together, and read the Bible together. God used a dream to invite her to start a simple church in her home.
And then there is the story of Omar, whose life has been saved miraculously more than once. In one case, soldiers actually pointed a loaded gun at him and pulled the trigger, more than once – but it didn’t fire. God is saving him for a great destiny! He has had many dreams from God. At the last visit, he said, "Every time you pray for us, I feel a light from heaven shining down upon us, into my heart."
None of these folks I have mentioned are supporters of ISIS. 95% of the Muslims in the Middle East hate what ISIS is doing. In fact, one hundred percent of the Syrians I have met here in Jordan are strongly against ISIS. But the fact that Jesus is fighting so sacrificially for these hearts – and winning – means He also longs for the hearts of the extremists.
Even the Apostle Paul was using terrorist tactics against Christians before Jesus encountered him! It was a Holy Spirit encounter that changed Paul. Please join me in praying fervently for Jesus to break through in the hearts of those enslaved by evil. If Ephesians 6:12 is right, our prayers may be more effective than any air strike could ever be.
It is a privilege for Sally and me to serve those who are serving on the front lines here in Jordan, in Lebanon, Iraq and Oman and throughout the Muslim world. God is drawing millions of Muslims to Jesus: in one Muslim majority country an average of one person every fifteen seconds is coming to faith in Christ!
Sally and I want to live out the rest of our lives training workers for a Jesus army of mercy and grace extremists! We are so grateful for your help in doing this. We have a faith goal we would like to ask you to help us achieve to play our part. We need 20 new ministry partners who will support us with $25 (R250) a month or more. Since I first shared this need 11 people have committed to partner with us in this way!
Will you pray about being one of the nine to say yes to partnering with us? Thank you! Just nine more to go to reach our goal of 20!
I pray the love of God will surround and comfort and strengthen you in the days to come. May He be close to you and protect you and yours. May He provide for you in great abundance, both for your soul and body.
Floyd and Sally McClung
PS While I have been here in Jordan Sally is back home in Cape Town. She had her fourth round of chemo treatment for ovarian cancer just two days before I left on this trip. I have called her each day and she is doing better than after any previous treatment. She has had no vomiting, no extreme pain, and has been slowly gaining strength each day. We are so grateful!!!