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Courageous Christians Living in Frightening Times

Author Tom Doyle will discuss how Middle Eastern Christians fear God more than they fear terrorists like ISIS. Read Transcript


NEWSCASTER: Global terrorism is at an all time high.

Millions of Middle East Christians

experience brutal persecution for their faith every day.

But that's not the whole story.

In the midst of the chaos caused by ISIS and other jihadist

factions, a growing number of fearless followers

of Jesus Christ are risking their own lives

to share the gospel.

Some of these courageous Christians are former Muslims,

and some were once terrorists.

Former pastor and Middle East missionary Tom Doyle

tells their amazing true stories in a new book,

Standing in the Fire, Courageous Christians Living

in Frightening Times.

Well, Tom Doyle is here with us, and Tom, welcome.

It's great to be with you, Gordon.

Thank you.

You're saying something pretty incredible,

because all the news sources are saying Christianity

is dying in the Middle East.

Right.

The place of its birth.

The Christian Church, the ancient Christian communities,

the Assyrian church, the Chaldean Church,

all being wiped out.

But you're saying there's something else going on.

Yeah, there really is.

You know, I think you can look at the mainline denominations

and say, OK, there's a mass exodus in the Middle East,

but they could never account for the Muslims that have become

believers, that are staying.

And, you know, Iran is the fastest growing church

per capita in the world right now.

But when we think of Iran, we think of the nukes,

that they're going to get--

Yeah.

Where are you getting that stat?

Because that's an amazing stat.

Yeah.

Operation World is the encyclopedia of missions,

and they ranked Iran the fastest growing church per capita

in the world right now.

And I think it goes back to what Jesus said.

Jesus said, I will build my church, and the gates of Hell

will not prevail.

But then the Ayatollah came in and said,

we're going to crush the church, in '79.

When it became the Islamic Republic of Iran.

So who's going to win on that?

And it hasn't-- it hasn't happened.

In fact, we know of at least two million believers

in Iran today.

Some say there could be as many as three or four--

I don't know that, but we've been

with the underground church, and it is growing, and it's vast,

and they are frustrated with Islam,

and they're embracing Jesus.

Which is wonderful.

It's awesome.

Walk us through.

What's it like for a believer in Iran?

I mean, what do they face on a daily basis?

Well, they face an invasion of privacy.

Their neighbors could be turning them in.

They never know what they're going to experience,

how long they're going to be able to walk

with Christ without getting a ticket to Evin Prison.

Many of the churches meet in the middle of the night,

the underground churches.

We have a friend that pastors seven churches, going

to one every night of the week.

They meet from midnight to three.

And these people have real jobs--

they meet in the middle of the night.

It's the only time when it's safe.

They never meet at that same place twice.

They move it around.

So they have no luxury to just, hey,

this is where we're meeting.

They have to be careful every single time.

They face prison, they face death,

and I think what's so special about them

is it's just in their DNA that they're

willing to be persecuted when they come to faith in Christ.

In fact, many that leave Muslims to Christ in the Middle East

will ask him those two questions before they

pray to receive Christ.

Are you willing to suffer for Jesus?

If they answer yes--

are you willing to die for Jesus?

It's a real possibility.

And they say yes.

Well, I think one of the amazing things to this story

is that most of these believers are what we call

Muslim background believers.

Yeah.

The ancient church traditions are being persecuted away.

Yes.

And are refugees now.

Right.

And so the Christians that are arising,

and the Christians that are staying

are all Muslim background.

That's right.

How are they coming to faith in Jesus?

Because you would think they would just reject it out

of hand.

Absolutely.

I think Islam is being shown for what it truly is,

and they are rejecting it.

Young people-- listen, we've been to the Great Mosque

in Damascus.

There's not many young people hanging out there.

They're in the malls, listening to their music, and that.

And so I think that many are rejecting it.

They're seeing Islam for what it is.

I think there's this spectacular--

Jesus is coming to them in dreams and visions.

We wrote about that.

We hear about that on a daily basis

from our leaders in the Middle East.

And then I think, third, they're seeing the love and the joy

that the believers have, the Christians.

One Syrian refugee family, Gordon, said, you know,

really, the only people that loved us in Syria

were the Bible people.

The Bible people didn't want anything.

They didn't want to take our kids.

They didn't want to hurt us, and we just drifted toward them.

They wanted to help feed us.

And they soon came to faith in Christ.

Wow.

Yeah.

That's an ongoing miracle.

That is--

Yeah, it really is.

I think it's the most dangerous place in the world.

I mean, this is the epicenter-- this

is where religion, politics, and history collide.

That's why I'm thankful for all of you

here, sorting that out for us each day.

But yeah, Muslims are coming to faith in Christ,

and they're willing to die for Jesus.

Wow.

What would you tell Christians in the west?

Number one, how can we help the persecuted church?

Yeah, I think that's so important.

We may not be called to be persecuted here,

although I think it will be coming,

but Paul said if one of us suffers, we all suffer.

We have a Facebook page, 8thirty8-- number 8--

thirty spelled out-- 8.

And when people get on that and like it,

they get updates from the front lines in real time

when there's situations with the Islamic State surrounding

Christians, or something happening in Iraq.

And they get that every day, and then we pray--

we set our watches and our phones,

whatever you use to tell time with--

8:38 PM.

And every time that goes off at night,

we pray for those that are in prison, persecution,

and danger.

And, you know, it's pretty humbling when

you think about the glorious Easter Resurrection Sunday,

we were able to be a part of--

there are many Christians celebrating

that in prison for Jesus throughout the Middle East

and North Korea.

Let's talk about your book, Standing in the Fire.

And, again, the odd thing for me, they don't want to leave.

They don't.

They want to stay.

Why?

Why is that?

They believe that God has called them to stay.

That there's a mission there for them to complete,

and that they can't run.

That there can't be an exodus of believers there.

And what better way for them to reach their country

than to stay and reach out with the love of Christ?

From those that come from an Islamic State background,

Jabhat Al-nusra, which in Syria is probably the number two

most feared terrorist group.

There's a leader from that group that came to faith in Christ.

He stayed there, Gordon.

Of course, he's a marked man, a wanted man,

but he says, as long as I live, I'm

going to be telling people about Jesus.

A woman married to a Muslim imam--

some of it was with the Islamic State in Mosul

that helped kick the Christians out,

has come to faith in Christ.

And you would think the first thing

they would do is head for the hills, but they're not.

They're staying, they believe they're supposed to stay.

Whether they're or they're going to die, they are staying.

That is humbling.

It really is.

And some leaders that we work with,

some of our E3 leaders in Syria, have built a graveyard

because they know they're going to die for Jesus there,

and 25 of them pitch their money in,

and they send emails saying, he is moving--

when you send things out of Syria,

you've got to be a little careful--

and he is moving, we have many new friends,

and there's more good news.

The graveyard's still empty.

Jesus is keeping them alive.

Yeah.

He will.

He has ways of watching over you in the middle of the fire.

He does.

You can still stand in that fire, and he'll protect you.

Yeah.

It is humbling.

I mean, as a Christian, you come to the decision,

OK, I'm going to live for him.

And-- OK, to die is gain.

I've got that mentally.

But then to live it every single day--

Every day.

And not knowing, is today the last day?

Yeah.

And how would that change you?

What would that do for you?

And, you know what?

Fareed, one of our leaders in Syria, said this.

When you only live for today, there's

something liberating about it.

You truly don't worry about tomorrow.

You don't have a five year plan, or a 10 year plan.

You are praying today-- if it's God's will

to make it through the day, then you get up tomorrow and see

what he has for you to do.

All right.

Well, if you want these stories, the book

is called Standing in the Fire, Courageous Christians Living

in Frightening You can get more information.

All you have to do is go to our website,

or you can find it wherever books are sold.

And Tom, thank you for the book.

Thank you so much.

And thank you for being here.

Bless you.

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