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THINK IT OVER

Terrorists Need the Gospel Too

By David Shibley
Global Advance

This week our lives changed forever.

The "unthinkable" happened: In one horrible hour thousands of lives were lost as a result of an attack on America by vicious terrorists. The World Trade Center and some nearby buildings are no more. The citadel of our military might was crippled. Our president and The White House, though targeted, were mercifully spared. The fragility of life was brought home to each of us.

No one knows what the next days and weeks may bring. A forceful American response is certain and terrorism seems to be a new fact of life for the average American. We may experience with a new depth of understanding the ever-present threats our brothers and sisters in the Persecuted Church have already lived with for years.

In the midst of these horrific tragedies we are being drawn as a nation back to God. How long has it been since major TV networks have given air time to prayer meetings? This Friday has been declared a national day of prayer.

These events call us as believers in Jesus Christ to…

  • turn in full repentance to God with a full dedication of our lives to Him
  • pray as never before for our president and other national leaders; that God will protect them and give them His wisdom
  • ask God to bring good out of this evil and graciously grant us a national revival
  • think, speak and act in a biblical, Christ-honoring way

In the midst of these unsettling events, it is important to remember:

OUR HOPE IS SURE. Our security is where it has always been – in Jesus Christ and the rock solid promises of God's Word. "We have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast . . ." (Hebrews 6:18-19).

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . . Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident" (Psalm 27:1,3).

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

OUR MESSAGE IS LOVE. As Christians, we have power to rise above the natural human reactions of fear and hatred. We can draw upon the very love of God that is given to us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5, Galatians 5:22-23).

If we choose hatred, even cloaking it in what we perceive as a righteous cause, we become no better than the terrorists. We must draw upon supernatural power and obey our Lord's teaching to "love your enemies . . . and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:14).

We also need to juxtapose our message – the Gospel – in dramatic contrast to the message of these radical religious terrorists. Ideologies that are weak at their core often resort to violence for their propagation. I am a firm believer in the ultimate triumph of truth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ reveals both the love of God and the truth of God. God's love and truth will prevail.

Sixty years ago the message of hate that threatened the world was fascism. Just two decades ago the message of hate that threatened the world was communism. These ideologies failed because hate was at their core and violence was their mode of propagation. This ideology that currently threatens the world will fail too, and for the same reasons.

OUR FOCUS IS CLEAR. Jesus said, "Because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:12-14).

This current crisis has massive missions implications. Jesus warned that the love impulse of many would be choked off because of sin and lawlessness. In other words, there is a natural tendency to "circle the wagons" and give our focus and energy to self-protection. Regrettably, these attacks on America will make some Christians defensive and in no mood to do anything redemptive for the rest of the world, especially the Islamic world. It is more than mere coincidence that the breeding ground for most radical terrorists is also the areas that have been most intransigent against the Gospel.

Yet Jesus prophesied that in the midst of a climate of global anger and recrimination, the Gospel would go to every nation and people group. If we are to respond to this crisis in a way that truly glorifies God, we must reinforce our commitment to the fulfilling of the Great Commission.

Let's take a lesson from history. At the end of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur made an impassioned appeal for 10,000 American missionaries to come to Japan. Most Americans, including most Christians, still harbored animosity against the Japanese because of their brutality against Americans. Because we viewed Japan as "the enemy" instead of viewing them as a nation desperately in need of the Gospel, we missed one of the greatest missions opportunities in history.

We cannot make the same mistake now. These misguided terrorists are simply acting out their lostness. Their crimes against humanity mandate upon their own psyches that they shroud their atrocities in what they believe is a "holy cause." Of course, invoking the name of God to inflict death and destruction is blasphemy against His true character of love. This is also unspeakably perverse.

In spite of how we may feel about them in the wake of these atrocities, we must remember that these terrorists – and all who ascribe to their misguided beliefs – are still people for whom Jesus Christ died. God loves them. They deserve the Gospel, and they clearly need its message of forgiveness and reconciliation.

At Global Advance, we will continue to equip God's courageous pastoral leaders in volatile areas of the world. We will not allow terrorists to dictate our lives or our travel. Yes, we will be sensitive to world conditions and obedient to the Holy Spirit's directives concerning our own travel and projected Frontline Shepherds Conferences. But as of today, our plans are unchanged. We still have conferences planned this fall in many dangerous parts of the world. Some of our conferences are scheduled for areas that are heavily Islamic. We are sincerely asking for your prayers and continued support as we obey our Lord's command to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19).

OUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT. No government, and certainly no evil men, can derail God's purpose. Jesus Christ will reign supreme and receive lavish worship from every tribe, people and nation.

We do not know what is ahead for our nation in the next few days and weeks. Nor do we know how pointedly terrorism might affect any of us individually. But what we do know for certain is where history is headed. "The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).

Last night at a prayer vigil Rev. Lloyd Ogilvie, chaplain of the U.S. Senate, quoted the following verse. It is a fitting place to end these observations:

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth" (Psalm 46:10).


Copyright 2001 David Shibley, president of Global Advance. Used by permission.

 

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