I wholeheartedly think that ISIS has continued to grow because of the lack of Christian knowledge and action to fight the spread of Islam around the world. It’s a multi-faceted issue, for sure, but the longer Christians sit with our eyes closed the more expansive this issue will become. This hits close to home for me for multiple reasons.
1) As a believer, and the idea that the areas where Paul and Peter and the apostles planted churches in the first century are now strongholds of the Islamic faith breaks my heart.
2) The last time I went to Ghana, a place I deeply love, I could see a visual difference in the number of Muslims as compared to the first time I visited only two years before. (Just last week, Ghana had its first documented ISIS recruit).
3) ISIS recruits in areas with low education and high poverty rates, taking advantage of those in poverty. They recruit from refugee camps, places with minimal opportunities for young adults, and prey on lonely people online. ISIS is the one offering a sick, sick version of hope to people in need. This infuriates me, that they would take advantage of this. But it also infuriates me because Christians, the ones with the real hope, have not been sharing our faith with Muslims. ISIS is a radical version of Islam, so I do not believe their views and actions are indicative of the entire religion of Islam. However, only 15% of ALL MUSLIMS have EVER even HEARD the Gospel. That means, most likely, ISIS members who are completing these atrocious acts have NEVER HEARD THE GOSPEL. They have never even had a CHANCE to know REAL HOPE.
So what can we do? Because we HAVE to do something.
It starts with your backyard: at your college, in your apartment complex, in a suburb of your city, there are most likely Muslims. Befriend them. Talk to them. And share the Gospel with them in your actions and with your words. Most likely they are not extremists or ISIS related. But spreading hope can help stop the spread of evil.
Secondly, and I mean this in love, get your head out of your behind and start reading the news. Read the articles that make you want to throw up, because that is the Holy Spirit grieving inside of you, and He will stir you into action. Learn about the history and makeup of ISIS. Learn about the Islamic faith and what makes extremists different from other Muslims. Follow reporters who focus on ISIS on Twitter (Rukmini Callimachi is a MUST follow). Watch Half the Sky and Girl Rising on Netflix to learn more about the culture of developing countries and how it affects women and crime.
Thirdly, pray against ISIS. Pray for the women ISIS is systematically raping and selling as slaves as an act of worship. Pray at noon everyday along with the women of Hillsong. Pray the leaders of ISIS would get visions from the Lord that what they are doing is wrong. Pray for your Muslim friends in Jesus’ name. Pray that Christians, including yourself and myself, would have an undeniable passion for sharing the Gospel. Pray for the refugee crisis, that those in camps would be protected from recruitment.
Lastly, support organizations that work with the refugee crisis or ministry in the Middle East (the only ones I am familiar enough with to recommend are World Vision and iHOPE Ministries, but I know there have to be others. If you know of any, please comment below with the name).
I may sound a little harsh and ranting, but this is the issue of our generation, and I can’t keep hiding my eyes because the pictures break my heart, or because the idea of ISIS continuing to spread is the scariest thing I can think of. We need to do something.
Further (Much More Helpful and Educated) Reading
ISIS' American Recruiting Tactics by Rukmini Callimachi for the New York Times
What Can Be Done About Isis? by Johnnie Moore for Relevant.com
Let's Turn on the Light for Syrian and Iraqi Refugees by Lynn Hybels
ISIS Recruiting Next Generation Fighters by Hari Sreenivasan for PBS
ISIS and Relative Deprivation by Ömer Taşpınar for Huffington Post
5 Ways to Stand Up and Be the Church by Ann Voskamp
**I'd like to note that I touch on several different issues that ISIS effects, in a very simple way. As I said, each issue is multi-faceted, and I encourage you to keep reading and researching the issues that can allow such a group to come into power, and the issues a group like this brings as it continues to grow in power (and I promise to do the same)**