Guest Article by Dr Dave Cashin

How ISIS is Spreading the Gospel

“I have been a Muslim for forty-one years, in all that time have never questioned Islam. But now, I have decided to leave it.”

A few weeks ago I received an email from one of my students. She has been working amongst Muslim women and had just had a phone call from one of her Muslim friends. The woman was weeping uncontrollably, and my student assumed someone in her family had died. After she regained her composure she made the following startling statement, “I have been a Muslim for forty-one years, and in all that time have never questioned Islam. But now, I have decided to leave it.” When my student asked her “why,” she related that she had been watching ISIS videos and the brutality that they justified as the “methods of the Prophet.” She decided to leave Islam.

I have often referred Islamic radicals as “proto-evangelists” for the Christian faith. The first of these was the Ayatollah Khomeini. His brutal regime in Iran, whose atrocities and policies have lead many Iranians to leave Iran, has also led to an exodus of Iranians out of Islam. Estimates are difficult, but the numbers significant. Outside Iran the numbers are firmer but no less astonishing. In Sweden, fully ten percent of the Iranian immigrant population has converted to the Christian faith. That is approximately eight thousand out of a total of eighty thousand in the entire country. Some Iranian believers have called the Ayatollah the greatest missionary because he showed us what Islam is really like.

The next great figure in this progression was Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden defined the rulers of the Muslim world as apostates for cooperating with the West.Though best known for the September 11, 2001 attacks, his group, al-Qaeda, quickly morphed from killing westerners to killing Muslims. Their brutality has particularly been harsh in Iraq and Syria, as has been actions by the Taliban in Pakistan. ISIS or the “Islamic State” is the latest in the progression of groups and states working for the absolute application of Islamic law. His declaration of a new caliphate has alarmed the Muslims world. His group’s clever–and successful–propaganda films glory in violence, hostage taking, beheadings, sex-slavery, and slaughter of Muslim and non-Muslims. The recent burning to death of a Jordanian Muslim pilot seems to have stepped well beyond even the brutality of Islamic law and it is likely that IS followers may shortly be defined as “apostates” from Islam justifying a new Jihad against them. This propaganda and terror war is being fought on the internet. Most westerners do not watch these films. But it was astonishing to see how quickly the film of the Jordanian pilot’s death spread throughout the Muslim world. The man’s father watched it on his cell phone in a public meeting.

As Islamic law, and the groups that espouse it, fails, where will people turn? When I met a group of Iranian Church leaders in Sweden their great fear was that Muslims would turn to secularism, even to atheism. Many have come to the Church but this assumes that the Church is a “safe space” for Muslims. The tragedy is that many Churches are not welcoming for Muslims. They regard them as the enemy. In a shameful display in Texas recently a group of Christians heckled a Muslim meeting and called on them to leave the country. The harvest in Sweden is partly a result of the Church taking a stand for Muslim immigrants and against local nationalist parties. The Church in Sweden is a “safe space” for Muslims. Is the evangelical Church in America a “safe space” for Muslims? The proto-evangelists are doing their job. Are we doing ours?

This article originally appeared on the website for the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies at Columbia International University, and was used with permission.  Please click here to view this site.

A Thoughtful Christ-Centered Response to ISIS

NOTE FROM FLOYD: This article by friend Carl Medearis is from his website and used by permission. Though it was posted a little while ago, it is very relevant today. by CARL MEDEARIS

Obama admits to not having a strategy. Duck Dynasty Godfather, Phil Robertson, wants to “Convert ‘em or kill ‘em.”

So what is a thoughtful honest strategy for confronting a terrorist group like ISIS?

ISIS doesn’t need any more explanation. We know what it is – evil personified. They have morphed out of Al Qaeda who were ironically too liberal for their most radical Islamic interpretations, namely that there should be a new national Muslim identity – a Caliphate. They have chosen Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant) as the territory from which this new “state” will emerge.

ISIS has brutally killed 1000’s, mostly non-Sunnis, in this quest for power. Ethnic Christians and a small people-group called Yazidis have found themselves in evil’s path, but so have the armies of Syria (both the national army and the various rebel groups), Iraq and even Lebanon. It seems anyone who isn’t willing to lay down their “flag” and join the newly self-appointed ISIS Caliphate is deemed a traitor and deserves to die. The execution of two American hostages by beheading has horrified the West and captured our daily imaginations – mostly how we can “demoralize and destroy” to use our President’s words, this new evil encroaching on our freedoms and international interests.

But I’m not a politician, I’m a private citizen and a follower of Jesus. But I’ve spent 32 years in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I’ve been many times to Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and around the Middle East. I’ve met personally with the leaders of Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Bin Laden family. And the politics of this are complicated to be sure. To bomb or not to bomb? Boots on the ground? It would seem that any attempt at a real diplomatic solution would be ridiculous with such a group.

Then what should the attitude be of folowers of Jesus in the West? How should we talk about ISIS amongst ourselves and if we had the chance to speak to one of our Congressional representatives, what might we encourage them to do? As “people of the book” (the name Muslims give to Christ-followers), what is our posture?

Unlike President Obama or the Duck guy, Jesus had a strategy. Believe it or not, he was smart. He lived under an occupying force and dealt with zealots (men who would have been considered “terrorists”) and lest we forget – he was killed. So Jesus knew pain, suffering, persecution and terrorism first hand.

And he had a strategy for dealing with such enemies. Here are five:

1. “Take the log out of our eyes, before we help get the speck out of someone else’s eye.” Are there logs in the eyes of the West, America specifically, that we need to first recognize? Where did ISIS get its weapons, for instance? And are there logs in the eyes of those of us who claim the way of Jesus as the way for the whole world? If the church had done its job of sharing Jesus in the Arab world in years past, would we have this issue? If the boys who are now men in ISIS, ten years ago, had heard and received the good news of Jesus – would they be doing what they are now?

2. “Blessed are the eyes that see and the ears that hear.” We need to see, hear and understand – it’s the parable of the Sower. There are reasons ISIS exists. We may not like them, and we might not want to understand them, but a mature and wise person will seek to know. Ask the question “Why?” Why is there an ISIS? If you were in their shoes would you be tempted to do something similar? If you grew up in a country with no power at your disposal, no outlet for travel, economic opportunity or education – and someone handed you a gun and said “We can take what should have been ours anyway” would you be tempted? It’s easy to say “No.” But….Are you sure?

3. “The harvest is ripe.” Who has attempted to bring them good news? Saul was a terrorist before he became Paul – killing Christians just like ISIS is doing. There’s always hope. The good news is the Power of God for salvation. Do we believe that? Who’s willing to go? Now.

4. “Turn the other cheek, carry the pack an extra mile and give them the coat off your back.” Jesus was rooted in Middle Eastern culture. He understood the power of shame and employs it brilliantly in these three simple strategies in these words from Matthew chapter 5 – the Sermon on the Mount. Each are used by Jesus to show that the one who is being abused can take power back from the abuser by taking charge of the situation. “Turning the cheek” wasn’t being passive – but a way to force the man who struck first to think about what he was doing before striking again. Forcing a civilian to carry a pack an “extra mile” was actually illegal – so the Roman soldier would be in big trouble for his superiors if someone saw what was happening. Taking of your “outer cloak” and showing your nakedness would have been a huge shame on the one who saw – not the one who took it off – but the one who saw. Shaming is Jesus’ clever way of granting power to the powerless.

What if we spent a billion dollars on creative ways of shaming ISIS – what might we come up with?

5. “Love your enemy, bless them and loan without expecting return.” Develop a long-term strategy for confronting evil. These injunctions of Christ – to love, bless and give to our enemies – are long- term strategies. They may not work right now within the current situation, but we have to be asking about the next generation. Who are the kids playing soccer in the dirty streets of Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan who could become successful businessmen and women, OR the next ISIS? We never heard of ISIS just one year ago. We didn’t know about Al Qaeda before 9/11. Who is the next ___________? And how do we move beyond our short-sighted 4-year-at-a-time policies to a more enlightened policy of generations? To love, bless and give to your enemy speaks of development and opportunity. Are we taking economic and educational reform seriously enough in countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan? If not, why not?

Of course, there is a legitimate argument to be made, that when people such as those within ISIS submit themselves fully to evil, war is our last option. Christians and those committed to the ways of Jesus have argued that position through the lens of “Just War Theory” since the days of St. Augustine. However, I believe we are too quick to employ that as a strategy when Jesus gave us some clear methods for confronting our enemies. His way is not passive. The way of the cross is perhaps the most aggressive stance towards evil ever taken. The love that God offers the world, in Christ, is not wimpy – it is a robust affront to the systems of our day that cry out for blood and revenge. The way of Jesus is the hard way. Forgiveness, love, choosing to lay down our lives is the most difficult path in the face of real enemies. Evil is real. But love is far more powerful.

Ironically the Phil Robertson’s of the world use the exact same language as ISIS – “convert or die.” There is another Way!

Paul summarized this way of Jesus well when he said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” ISIS is evil, but they can ultimately be overcome by good.

Carl Medearis is an international expert on Muslims/Christian relations and Arab/American relations. You can learn more about him on his website:

www.carlmedearis.com

Follow Carl on Twitter.

Find Carl on Facebook.

All Nations Team Held by AK-47 Wielding Angry Father

I just received a message that one of our All Nations teams in the Middle East was held against their will for several hours by a very angry father carrying an AK-47. Why? Because he found a Bible in a gift box given to his 8 year old son. The team has been doing food distribution among Syrian refugees for several weeks. We helped distribute 100's of food parcels and gift boxes, and though we don't normally give out Bibles or tracts to children of refugees without their parents consent, it happened this time by accident.

The father is an Iman (leader of a mosque), who came with some other angry men and closed and locked the team in where they were staying. Fortunately, one of our senior leaders was there on a visit and was able to talk peacefully to the Iman. Things calmed down, he released the team, and then when was asked for the Bible back, he refused. "It's mine Bible now", he said!

The gospel works in some amazing ways!

Syria Refugee Crisis

More news from Syria refugees crisis. This article is taken from the website of Christian Aid.

You can give to All Nations Serve Syria project:

√ To donate in the USA, send a check made out to All Nations, and send it All Nations Support PO Box 55, Grandview, Missouri, 64030. Please attach a note that says it is for the Serve Syria project. 

√ To donate in South Africa:

Standard Bank Fish Hoek Branch Swift Code: SBZAZA JJ Branch Code: 036009 Account number: 073880310 Ref: Serve Syria

An Insider’s Glimpse into the Syrian Refugee Crisis

October 24, 2013

Many Syrian refugees who escape across the border into Lebanon end up living in ramshackle camps like this one in the Bekaa Valley.

Much has been reported about the plight of Syrian Muslims who are fleeing their country, but how has the war impacted Christian refugees? In an emotional interview with Christian Aid Mission staff, the leader of a Lebanon-based ministry shares refugee accounts that broke his heart—and gave him hope for a brighter future.

Q: How do you minister to the refugees given their very difficult circumstances and challenges?

A: Most of the time we sit and talk and we pray with them. It’s really hard. I know we can’t save the world, but we do as much as we can. We just do whatever we can. People come knocking on the door and say “Please, let us in. It’s okay; we will sit on the floor. Give us just a roof. We don’t want anything else.” Or people will say, “Do you have any clothing for us because we left Syria with nothing.” As we are able to serve meals, we do it. We try to do it weekly. If we are able to offer more food, we do it. We never provide meals according to a schedule. We never store food on the shelf. Whatever we have, we cook, and the refugees help us.

Q: What is the current situation inside Syria and with the refugees in Lebanon?

A: What’s happening now is the persecution that the Christian people are experiencing, especially in the areas of Maaloula and Aleppo. It’s a huge problem now. So they leave Syria with whatever they have on them. They just leave. A country like Lebanon is very small and there’s nothing that the government is doing to help the refugees. Where we work in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, there are no more empty spots available. The fields are full. It’s overwhelming with all the children and families. A huge disaster.

I visited one of the families. There were about 25 to 30 people. When I came in the room, I literally thought they were having the Lord’s Supper, the way they were eating. They were handing each other a slice of bread and each one was taking a piece. This is how bad off they are. In Beirut too, any house that already had one or two refugee families living there, now they have more people in the same house.

I have lived through war, I’ve lived with disasters, but I have never seen it this bad. The main thing now is to stand with believers that we know are being persecuted.

Q: How are Christians in Syria coping?

A: The hardest thing is communication. They don’t go out much. There is a big loneliness; they feel that they are alone and nobody thinks of them. They are scared and they think they are alone in this whole situation. One man said, “Someone burned the Koran and they [the media] made a big story out of it. We have people we bury every day who are Christians. Why can’t we do something about that?” It’s true we are not the kind of people who are an "eye for an eye" and a "tooth for a tooth." No. The encouraging thing is we are seeing God working, even though things are hard.

Q: Can you share with us the personal stories of some of the families?

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the war is its effect on Syria’s children.

A: This is a very conservative number I’m saying, but I met at least 15 to 20 kids with no mom and no dad left for them. Their parents died when they were in Syria, and the children were taken out by others who were fleeing. One Christian brother in Lebanon mentioned his mom didn’t want to leave Syria because she told him, “If we leave, they’re going to take everything.” He tried to convince her and other family members to leave. He couldn’t. By the time they were talking about leaving, men came into the house and killed them all, just because they are Christians. They were wonderful believers, a wonderful family. This man lost his whole family. His mom, his dad, his grandma, and all his brothers. Nine people were killed that day.

They were killed in a part of Syria that was supposed to be safe. Any area where Christians are, they are being targeted. They [rebels] come in, they massacre people, and they leave. The same thing they did in Maaloula. They came in for two days, they massacred people, and then they left. Maaloula is an area where there are Catholic and Orthodox believers. There’s no fighting there. I don’t know. It’s hard to say where there is a safe area for Christians in Syria any more.

Q: Are the rebels targeting Christians differently than they would Alawite or Shiite?

A: Yes, because they slaughter Christians. They don’t shoot them. That’s how you know the difference.

Q: Do you recommend Christians just leave Syria?

A: In situations like this, you cannot recommend anyone leave or stay. For two reasons. When you leave, you lose everything. I remember every time we left our house during the war in Lebanon, it was broken into and people took everything. That’s really what the rebels want people to do. They want to scare people out, and when families are out, the rebels steal. That’s why they kill families, to scare the neighborhood. They want to make people leave. And at the same time if they don’t leave, they are jeopardizing their lives. And what do you do when you have two kids, three kids, babies? You don’t want to go to a place where you can’t find work, where you’re not welcome, where nobody’s doing anything to help you.

Q: What are you and your ministry doing to help the refugees? What are some specific ways that you are providing assistance to them?

A ministry in Lebanon is reaching out to both Muslim and Christian refugees to provide food packages, medicine, bedding materials, and other essentials.

A: We are opening now several camps that I know of but the only thing is we cannot open them too much to the public because we will be suddenly overwhelmed. But some of the places we are keeping for believers. So far we have more than 6,000 people who are Christians that have tents and small places to stay where they are sharing bathrooms and such. This is in the mountains in Lebanon. We are trying to help them as much as possible with food and medical assistance. The other area where we are working is in the Bekaa Valley. We have some Christians there—around 2,000 people. There are no places left in Beirut. It’s horrible there. Refugees that went to Tripoli in northern Lebanon are fleeing now because of what’s happening there between the Sunnis and the Shiites. So they are either going to Beirut or into the mountains.

Q: In your mind, do you see the refugee situation as something that is bringing many thousands, even hundreds of thousands of Muslims to Christ?

A: I wouldn’t say hundreds of thousands, but I have seen thousands personally. On a recent trip I prayed and I cried with so many people—more than in my entire life, my entire ministry. That’s for sure I can tell you. We have meetings in several churches. You see Muslims coming on Wednesdays, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They want to be a part of it.

One Sunday when I was there we had 200 people in a room. We said, “Okay, you know that we are Christians and we believe in Jesus and we would like to pray for you.” We shared the gospel with them. I’ve never seen so many people praying at the same time in my life, ever. All of them were Muslims. We said, “Do you want to give your life to Jesus?” They said, "Yes," and they prayed. I don’t know if it’s because we were there, but I know they need Jesus. That’s all I know. That’s the maximum we can give them.

Q: Do they tell other Muslims they are Christians, or do they keep it to themselves?

Christians face intense persecution as the war rages on in Syria.

A: It depends where, with whom. I was in Beirut visiting with one of the Syrian families. There were about 35 to 40 people in that small house. A guy came in and said, “You are the one who is converting them to Christianity.” He was angry with me and he was looking at everybody and shouting at them. That gives you an example of how they share with others what they have seen and what they have prayed. That’s how it is happening. Some people share their faith, some don’t. But a lot of them come back to us and help us out.

Q: How do you share your faith with the refugees?

A: We definitely share the gospel with them. We offer them a New Testament. If they say no, we don’t give it. Some are saying, “We don’t read.” This is when audio materials are useful. Sometimes we visit carrying nothing and say, “Hi, I’m just here to see you.” One Muslim man said to me, “Can you come and pray with my wife. I think she is going into labor.” I didn’t know what to pray for. She was in labor. I said, “We will have to take your wife to the hospital.” Of course they cannot afford it. I said, “No problem, let’s go.” So I was praying with her on the way. We got her to the hospital. She had a boy. Guess what they named him? Yes, my name.

Can you imagine? And this was a Muslim family. (choking back tears) All of this is really too much [to handle]. But God is good. We should focus on that. God is good. We need to stand next to the believers. We are there for them. We are there.

How you can help Syrian refugees:

Pray

  • For refugee families, as they have experienced the horrors of war and face immense challenges in the countries where they have relocated. Pray that their hearts will be open to hear and receive the love of Jesus Christ.
  • For encouragement and strength for the Lebanese ministry workers who feel emotionally overwhelmed.
  • For Christians who have chosen to remain in Syria—for their safety, for God’s provision to meet their physical and emotional needs, and that they will be lights for Christ in the midst of the darkness that surrounds them.

Give

Material Needs

  • Food package for one family for a week ($80)
  • Mattress, blanket, pillow ($50)
  • Shoes and clothing ($10)
  • Medicine ($5)

Shelter

  • Plastic tarp ($300-$500). Families use this covering to waterproof their tents, which are made of wood and scrap metal.
  • Heaters ($30-$40) depending on whether the appliance uses diesel fuel or wood. Cold weather will be setting in soon. The ministry is requesting at least 200 heaters, one per family.

Evangelistic Outreach

  • New Testaments/CDs ($5 each). Believers still living in Syria would like to use these materials for evangelism among the rebels.
  • Monthly living expenses for gospel workers in Syria

One Third of Syrian Christians Gone From Syria

One Third of Syrian Christians are gone, says cleric.

Oct 24 2013Oct 24 2013
Patriarch claims more than 450,000 have fled, but opinions vary
Christians have fled on mass from their homes in places such as the historic city of Maaloula.
Almost a third of Syria’s Christians have left since the start of the civil war, according to one of the country’s senior clerics.
Syria’s most senior Catholic leader Gregorios III Laham, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch, told the BBC that more than 450,000 of Syria’s estimated 1.75 million Christians have gone.
However, he said he remained sure that Syria’s Christian community would survive. The precise number of Christians in Syria is open to debate, as is the number of those who have left the country.
A spokesperson for Open Doors International, an organisation which supports Christians under pressure for their faith, says he thinks the figure for those who’ve left may be significantly lower.
There is some debate about the number of Christians in Syria at the beginning of the civil war. Suggestions that Christians amounted to around 8 per cent of the population are thought optimistic by some. And of those Syrians known to have left the country – whether to refugee camps in neighbouring countries, or further afield – the percentage of Christians is believed to be lower than 8 per cent.
Patriarch Gregorios spoke at the London launch of a new report on Thursday (October 17), which claimed that the persecution of Christians is worsening globally.
Catholic international aid agency Aid to the Church in Need’s 2013 Persecuted and Forgotten? claims that an exodus of Christians from many countries threatens Christianity’s status as a worldwide religion. The worst problems, according to the report, are found in North Korea and Eritrea.
“The principal finding of the report is that in two-thirds of the countries where persecution of Christians is most severe, the problems have become arguably even worse,” said John Pontifex, one of the report’s authors. “In fact the Church’s very survival in some parts – notably the Middle East – is now at stake.”
The report suggests that the Arab Spring has turned into the ‘Christian Winter’, with political upheavals proving particularly costly for the Christian minority in the Middle East.
“From all accounts, the incidents of persecution are now apparently relentless and worsening; churches being burnt, Christians under pressure to convert, mob violence against Christian homes, abduction and rape of Christian girls, anti-Christian propaganda in the media and from Government, discrimination in schools and the workplace… The list goes on,” said Pontifex.

How Not to Respond to the Syrian Crisis

I just returned from a two-week visit to some of the Syrian refugee camps in the Middle East. Before I describe seven ways not to respond to the Syrian crisis, allow me to share a few impressions from my visits with the refugees themselves.   I am working though some deep emotions from the heart-rending stories of tragedy and loss I heard as I met with the refugee families.

I visited refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, and home visits in Mafraq and Amman, Jordan, as well as a visit to Zaatari, the second largest refugee camp in the world.

I met men who fought with the Free Syria Army and were recovering from wounds inflicted in the fighting. I "talked" with one man who survived a bullet wound to the head. The bullet entered his forehead and exited the back of his head. He is paralyzed, cannot speak, and yet he can understand everything. His wife sat beside him holding his hand. In that moment I did not see "a Muslim" but another human being, a man with a family he cannot feed and wounds he cannot get medical attention for.

In the same crowded apartment building of 14 flats, all occupied by refugee families, I met two brothers, both of whom had recently escaped from prison in Syria. Both brothers had bullet scars and shrapnel wounds. One of the brothers could not lift his left arm because he was tortured in prison - Syrian soldiers cut the tendons and nerves in his arm and wrist while he was held captive.

I sat with refugee families in tents - they did know where the next meal is coming from. I listened as one man said he wants to work but cannot because of his refugee status. That is true for several hundred thousand Syrian men, many from middle-class backgrounds, who are now refugees in Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.  They are stateless, hopeless, and lost. And it is illegal for them to take a wage-earning job in their host country.

For every refugee the United Nations counts in their official statistics, there is at least one more refugee who is unregistered. Many of the refugees are afraid of registering for fear of spies turning over their identities to the Assad regime in Syria.

It is hard to assimilate all I witnessed and heard in those two weeks. I asked God to allow me to feel what He feels and to see what He sees. Perhaps no one outside Syria can really understand what the Syrian refugees have been through. But still, I asked God to touch my heart in a deep and lasting way. He is still doing that in me.

I am a man of action, so what I saw and felt is meaningless to me if I don't do something with it. I will act. I have come back to Cape Town filled with passion and purpose. I feel called to mobilize as many as I can to get involved, and to give if they cannot go.

What was most striking to me in my talks with the refugees was their spiritual hunger and openness. They longed to know God has not abandoned them. They smiled with sincere appreciation when I spoke to them about His love for them, when I told them He spared their lives, and that He has a purpose for them. I reminded them that He is a creator, and He will create a new life and a new beginning for them. I compared it to being “born again.” No one objected when we spoke of the love of God revealed in Jesus.

Several million Syrian people have been forced from their homes, their land and their families because of the war. Some of the families told me about their houses being struck by bombs while they were in them. They lived to tell their story. Other families described the physical pain and horrible discomfort caused by chemical weapons. One mother asked for prayer for her baby boy named Sultan. Please pray for him, would you? And pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to Sultan's family.

More than one family had TVs on while we sat with them, blaring continually with live news reports from the fighting in Syria. Their TV's are on night and day. They watch as the “rebels" fight against the Syrian army in their home towns. Places that were names on the news to me previously became more real when I met people from places like Homs, Damascus, Aleppo, and Daraa - where the revolution began.

Can you imagine sitting with a family, while in the background a TV showed violent, bloody scenes of gun battles, RPG's being fired from wrecked buildings, and snipers killing unsuspecting enemy soldiers? It was disturbing. It hit me that they were watching news reports about their family members and hometowns.

Most of the refugees grieve without knowing how to grieve. Their culture does not allow them to mourn their losses. Except for the first few hours after death, they cannot acknowledge pain when they lose their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons to the fighting. When waves of grief overcome them, they can only cry alone with no one to talk to.

The refugees struggle with feelings of abandonment by the rest of the world. They feel alone in their struggle against a ruthless regime. Hopelessness was tangible in every conversation.

At the same time, in every interaction with the refugees, they were incredibly generous and hospitable.

One thing is clear to me above everything else: there is great spiritual hunger and openness to the good news of Jesus. There are several million Syrian people suffering. They experience hunger, hopelessness, and confusion. I was overwhelmed with the desperate longing by the Syrian people I met to be listened to, to be helped, and to hear the good news of God's love for them.

Their hospitality amazed me.

In every home, in every shop, and in every single contact with the refugees, I experienced warm hospitality and generosity. I witnessed amazing grace in the midst of huge tragedy and pain. Everyone we visited served us what food they had. They gave us coffee, tea, cakes, hot meals, and soft drinks - at great sacrifice to themselves. I was humbled and deeply touched by their kindness to me, a stranger.

No one turned down prayer. Everyone listened eagerly to the news that God had not forgotten them. They joined us respectfully as I prayed for them in Jesus name.

We have to respond while there is still time! This moment of opportunity and need will not last for long. When the immediate crisis is past, people will settle in new countries, or return to Syria to rebuild their homes, and then the opportunity to minister the love of Jesus will not be the same. Many of the refugees will melt into the local culture. Already thousands of them are doing their best to move out of the camps and into the towns and cities in their host countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

We have to respond while the people are open! There are hundreds of thousands of refugee children. The UN is overwhelmed by the crisis. UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) leaders describe the tragedy as beyond any other faced by the United Nations in recent memory.

What can be done? You can give financially to help us send teams and provide food for the refugees. We have more volunteers in All Nations lining up, willing to go. We have teams who already there, working with the refugees.

Short-term teams can go now to the camps. We can play with their children, listen to their stories, start schools, teach English, hire Arabic speaking translators, help them get medical assistance, and pray with them. We can share the good news of Jesus.

Every Syrian refugee has a name, a journey, and a story to tell. If nothing else, we can take a packet of food to a family, then sit and listen, and care for them. We can weep with them. And we can share the love of God with them.

Seven Conclusions: how to respond and how not to respond to the Syrian crisis:

1.    The conflict in Syria has created an urgent, unique moment of opportunity. This crisis has an expiry date!  It is urgent that we respond now, before the window of opportunity closes. Perhaps we only have 6-12 months to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis. Our response must not be a political response, though we all have our political convictions, but a spiritual and practical one. We, as followers of Christ, offer something no government or UN agency can offer. We must provide aid to those suffering, and we must do so in the name of Jesus, with prayer and the good news of Jesus.

2.    Syria as a nation will most likely open to outside help for rebuilding their country once the war ends. We should plan now to be part of that response. There will most likely be ongoing tensions and fighting between various Islamic factions within Syria for many years to come, but the danger involved must not stop us from being involved. Danger is normal for those who get involved in crisis situations.

3.    When we respond to the Syrian refugees, we have accepted an invitation by God to be part of him “shaking all nations, that they might seek after the desire of all nations.” Haggai 2

4.    I learned on this trip that the Arab Spring began in Indonesia in 1996, not two years ago in Tunisia. The Arab Spring is bigger and has been going on longer than I realizedIt began with the fall of Suharto, the world's longest serving dictator in the world's largest Muslim country. It was students demonstrating on the streets of Jakarta in massive numbers that forced his resignation.  The "Arab Spring" continues to break out around the Muslim world. The Arab Spring is a spiritual shaking from God. It has shaken Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Malaysia, Somalia, Lebanon, Jordan, Sudan/South Sudan, Iran, and now Syria. It is as significant as the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

5.    The Arab Spring is a spiritual movement and radical terrorism is political response to a spiritual phenomenon. If we see the Middle East through the grid of politics, of what America or the United Nations should or should not do, we will miss what God is up to. We must not think in terms of "radical terrorists" or "extremists" or the "threat to the West…" Much of the Islamic terrorism in the world today is a false-spiritual response to a massive turning of millions of Muslims to Jesus. It is Satan’s way of distracting us, of filling our hearts with fear, anger, and unbelief. We are living in the time of the greatest harvest ever among Muslims coming to faith in Jesus. Of course, Satan is not happy about that – so he is stirring up anger and hatred in the hearts of extremists to act violently, and thus to cause a polarization, a temptation to people in the West to respond in the same spirit. Dont fall for it!  This is a moment in history catalyzed by God to create deep hunger and spiritual crisis in the hearts of people in the Muslim world. It represents a historical turning point in the history of Islam. Respond with prayer, love, and faith, not fear, retaliation or suspicion. See and be impressed with what God is up to, not what the enemy is doing.

6.    To be fully understood, the Syrian refugee crisis must be seen in the greater context of the "Arab Spring" and what is happening all over the Muslim world. Though there is a terrible war in Syria with grave injustices on both sides of the conflict, it is happening because God has seen fit to allow the status quo to be unsettled in the Muslim world. Many Muslims are asking why Muslims are killing Muslims? The crisis in Syria is a severe spiritual blow to Islam that represents a split in the heart of Islam, a division between moderate and radical streams of belief. There is a major spiritual conflict/divide taking place within Islam, and this divide represents a unique moment to share the love of Jesus with Muslims.

7.    Finally, we must not buy into the dualistic, Western mindset that says we should not "take advantage" of people in crisis situations by offering to pray for them, or sharing the Gospel with them, or inviting them to faith in Jesus. Of course, we should not pressure people or manipulate them into "making decisions" based on what we do for them. But we must follow Jesus' example and obey His command to announce the good news of the kingdom and to heal them. Sharing the love of Jesus, telling the good news of forgiveness and hope in Christ is not manipulation, but providing the spiritual hope people long for. Sadly, I have witnessed relief groups separating their good deeds from the good news of Jesus in my 46 years of serving Jesus among the poor. I am convinced that hopelessness and Christ-less ness go hand in hand, and the core of what we do as followers of Christ is discipling people to faith in Jesus, the hope of the world. There is a great opportunity to disciple people to faith who in turn start simple churches in the camps. The great commission and the great commandment go hand-in-hand - the Syrians are longing for those who can walk a road with them to faith and to reproduce that faith in many others.

 

Syria...

The article below from The Guardian newspaper in England is a deeply disturbing reflection on the war in Syria. It details the INABILITY of world bodies to solve the Syrian crisis. What I find most disturbing is the probability the Syrian civil war will become a regional war. Already it has spilled over into Lebanon and is flooding Jordan with waring factions of divided Muslims. Millions more people could become refugees and hundreds of thousands more will die if the war escalates. Many followers of Jesus are responding to the crisis, but many more of will need to give, go and pray. All Nations is involved and will send more workers over the next few months...I will be visiting the camps September of this year. 

Floyd McClung

 

The Guardian

By Martin Chulov

 

Half of Syrian population 'will need aid by end of year'

UN high commissioner for refugees says crisis may be worst humanitarian disaster it has dealt with

 

The UN high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, said there had been 'not been an inch of progress towards a political solution' on Syria. Photograph: Junior Kannah/AFP/Getty Images

Martin Chulov

 

More than half the population of Syria is likely to be in need of aid by the end of the year, the UN high commissioner for refugees has warned, while labelling the ever-worsening crisis as the most serious the global body has dealt with.

 

António Guterres, who has led the UNHCR through the worst of the refugee crises in Afghanistan and Iraq, said the Syrian civil war was more brutal and destructive than both and was already the worst humanitarian disaster since the end of the cold war.

 

His assessment came as the UN released new data on the numbers of refugees, which revealed that 6.8 million Syrians need aid. That figure is likely to reach at least 10 million, more than half the pre-war population of the country.

 

Another UN body, Unicef, says half of those in need are children.

 

"I don't remember any other crisis where we are having 8,000 per day [fleeing across borders], every day since February," Guterres said in an interview with the Guardian. "There will very likely be 3.5 million by the end of the year. We will have half the population of Syria in dire need of assistance and this is incomprehensible."

 

With the civil war now into its third year and increasingly taking the shape of a proxy regional war fought across a sectarian faultline, aid groups are making ever more strident predictions of a catastrophic funding shortfall.

 

Guterres goes further, warning that the modern boundaries of the Middle East and the post-Ottoman agreements that underpin them may unravel if the crisis is not brought to an end.

 

"The political geography of the modern Middle East emerged from the Sykes-Picot agreement with the exception of the never-resolved Israeli-Palestinian situation," he said of the Anglo-French deal at the end of the first world war that eventually formed the nation states of Syria and Lebanon. "The conflict in Syria might for the first time put that political geography into question."

 

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, and Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, this week both warned of a partition of the country that would inevitably cause grave ramifications in neighbouring Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan and beyond. Kerry appeared to advance the US position on Syria by suggesting an "enclave break-up" could only be prevented by getting "everybody on the same page with respect to what post-Assad Syria will look like".

 

Assad, meanwhile, reiterated his earlier warning that no country in the region would be safe if the Syrian war, in which a majority Sunni opposition is fighting a minority Alawite regime aligned to Shia Islam, led to the collapse of the embattled state's borders.

 

UNHCR figures show that close to 1.3 million Syrians have fled the country in the past two years. The figure is markedly lower than the numbers that have left Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, but is increasing at a faster rate than at any point in either country.

 

In addition, there are thought to be at least 3 million internally displaced Syrian refugees, many of whom have limited means to provide for themselves or their families. Communities in Syria's war-ravaged north, west and south are largely without electricity and low on food and running water.

 

Refugee camps in northern Jordan, southern Turkey and Lebanon's Bekaa valley are overwhelmed with daily arrivals of refugees who have often made precarious journeys to escape nearby battlefields.

 

"This is the most brutal [conflict], even with very brutal conflicts elsewhere," said Guterres. "If one looks at the impact on the population, or the percentage of the total population in need, I have no doubt that since the end of the cold war it is the worst. And it will become even worse still if there is no solution.

 

"My belief is that if we take all of these elements, then this is the most dramatic humanitarian crisis that we have ever faced. Then if we look at the geopolitical implications, I have no doubt that this is the most serious that we have ever dealt with."

 

Lebanon and Iraq are increasingly unable to deal with the Syrian spillover, which is disturbing already fraught sectarian power bases and straining meagre resources during an economic downturn brought on by the crisis.

 

"There is a real threat to Lebanon and Iraq," said Guterres. "Jordan is under serious economic stress. We have the Palestinian/Israeli question and the fact that the Syrian army has withdrawn from the Golan Heights. In the context of the Sunni-Shia divide, all the key actors are involved. Even compared to Afghanistan, the geopolitical implications and the threat to global stability are profound. It's the most dangerous of all crises."

 

In an address to the United Nations security council on Thursday, Guterres said there had "not been an inch of progress towards a political solution".

 

Expanding on that to the Guardian, he said: "It is of enormous frustration that we have come to such a situation in global governance that nobody can address it."

 

Diplomacy on Syria has failed to bridge a yawning divide in views on what has fuelled the crisis and how best to deal with it. Russia and China, two permanent members of the security council, have blocked moves towards more robust support of the opposition in Syria. The US and Europe have attempted to impose ever tougher sanctions on the Assad regime, but have balked at arming the opposition because of concerns about the influence of al-Qaida groups.

 

"I lived in a bipolar world," said Guterres. "Until the war in Iraq, I witnessed a unipolar world with one single superpower. Now we are in a clearly established multi-polar world. New actors have emerged – the Brics: China, Russia, Brazil, India. There is no longer a clear set of power relations. There is no way to bring about consensus among global players, or to bring about common action. There is no capacity to produce any solution."

 

UN appeals for aid to Syria remain desperately under-funded with some agencies, including Unicef, reporting a shortfall of more than 70%. The crisis was eased somewhat on Thursday when Kuwait transferred $300m (£196m) to the UN for Syrian relief. "[It] will be distributed across all of our institutions," said Guterres. Kuwait is the only Gulf country that has honoured its promise through the multilateral aid organisations.

 

"We can now put some money up front in Syria, but we are all in big trouble. Most of the western countries have huge budget difficulties. Moving towards 3 million refugees, there is no way that this can be dealt with.

 

"The system is at breaking point. There is limited capacity to take many more. Where are the people going to flee? Into the sea?"

 

Syrian refugees

1.35m: the number of refugees fleeing Syria who have sought protection in neighbouring countries, according to the UNHCR

 

48%: the percentage – at least – of the refugee population who are under 18. Some 77% are women and children

 

$162.4m: the amount pledged by 4 April to Syria's Regional Response Plan by international donors – just 33% of UNHCR's requirements

 

10%: the increase in Lebanon's population due to refugee movements. Jordan's is up 6%

 

Friday 19 April 2013 13.43 BST

 

Join the Largest Prayer Meeting in the World

Hello, 20 years ago God allowed me and several others the privilege of helping to pioneer what is most likely the largest prayer initiative in the world, called "30 days of prayer for the Muslim world". Since that time it has spread all over the world so now millions of people pray during Ramadan for pre-believing Muslims.

I want to call this prayer and awareness initiative to your attention and ask that you join me in supporting this amazing opportunity to stirrup love and faith and reconciliation toward Muslims who have not yet come to faith in Jesus. Join believers all over the globe praying during Ramadan - not because we believe in Islam, but because we believe for those who follow Islam to come to faith in Jesus!

Who knows what God will do when we join with many others to fast and pray during Ramadan for Muslims to come to faith in Jesus!!

Since this and many other prayer initiatives began to reach out in love to Muslims, many have had dreams of Jesus, met followers of Jesus, and have opened their hearts to the peace of God through Jeus Christ. The greatest solution to war and strife in North Africa, India, Indonesa, and the Middle East is prayer and the love of Jesus.

Kindly yours,

Floyd McClung

PS To subscribe to regular updates or get more information how you can get your church community and movement involved write to: 30-days@bfp-listen.de and learn more below from the 30 Days Office.

30-Days of Prayer for the Muslim World Ramadan 2013 / 1434: July 9 - August 7

Celebrating 20 years of Prayer: 1993 - 2013

Dear friends,

20 years ago a few mission leaders were praying together. They felt challenged to focus their attention on reaching the Muslim world. Thus was born the 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World movement.

Today, that agency has 10 times more teams working in the Muslim world than they did 20 years ago. Many other mission and church agencies have joined in. We have seen major breakthroughs. For example, in South Asia at least half a million Muslims come to faith among the Bengali. In Iran, Christian satellite broadcasting is widely viewed and supports a strong and growing underground church movement with thousands of house fellowships multiplying throughout the country. Several hundred thousand members of an unreached Berber group in North Africa have come to faith in just one of several movements taking place in that region.

The 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim world prayer event has played a big part in that - educating, motivating and encouraging believers to respectfully and lovingly share their faith. The guide is now distributed in over 38 languages, and millions have participated. We have a team of people across the planet who not only contribute to the contents of the booklet but also are actively involved in ministry reaching the lost.

We feel an urgency to continue calling the Christian world to pray. This is not the time to stop praying, giving and going. The avalanche of prayer, we believe, is seeing much fruit. And as we watch events take place in North Africa and across the Muslim world, we sense we must add our prayers and actions to the work God is doing. We are investing in eternity!

You will read many more miracles and facts in our coming prayer guide. I encourage you to get the prayer materials to your family, friends, church and social network. At our end we are doing our utmost to produce the prayer guide so it will engage as many Christians as possible. We also encourage everyone to contribute financially to the ongoing work. There are many bills to pay for the new booklet and of course for the people in the fields.

So, what of the next 20 years? According to a 2011 Pew study, twenty years from now the Muslim world population will have doubled from what it was 20 years ago. Muslims will represent a quarter of the global population. As followers of Christ, we must rise to meet this growth with a double portion of faith and love. Let's keep up the avalanche of prayer.

God bless you,

The team

PS. We would like to add a Fund-raising person to the 30-Days team. Let me know if you can help. Thanks. You are welcome and encouraged to forward these e-mails to others. The "Donate" link is here: http://www.30-days.net/resources/donate/ or 30-days@xodigo.com on PayPal -- You are subscribed to the 30-days mailing list: Subscribe / Unsubscribe details -- Booklets | facebook | twitter

--

Floyd and Sally McClung P.O. Box 1331 Sun Valley 7985 Cape Town, South Africa

Telephone South Africa: +27-21-785-7201

www.floydandsally.com www.allnationsworldwide.org

FaceBook: Floyd McClung Twitter: floydandsally Twitter: Floyd McClung

30-Days of Prayer for the Muslim World Ramadan 2013 / 1434: July 9 - August 7

Celebrating 20 years of Prayer: 1993 - 2013

Dear friends,

20 years ago a few mission leaders were praying together. They felt challenged to focus their attention on reaching the Muslim world. Thus was born the 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World movement.

Today, that agency has 10 times more teams working in the Muslim world than they did 20 years ago. Many other mission and church agencies have joined in. We have seen major breakthroughs. For example, in South Asia at least half a million Muslims come to faith among the Bengali. In Iran, Christian satellite broadcasting is widely viewed and supports a strong and growing underground church movement with thousands of house fellowships multiplying throughout the country. Several hundred thousand members of an unreached Berber group in North Africa have come to faith in just one of several movements taking place in that region.

The 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim world prayer event has played a big part in that - educating, motivating and encouraging believers to respectfully and lovingly share their faith. The guide is now distributed in over 38 languages, and millions have participated. We have a team of people across the planet who not only contribute to the contents of the booklet but also are actively involved in ministry reaching the lost.

We feel an urgency to continue calling the Christian world to pray. This is not the time to stop praying, giving and going. The avalanche of prayer, we believe, is seeing much fruit. And as we watch events take place in North Africa and across the Muslim world, we sense we must add our prayers and actions to the work God is doing. We are investing in eternity!

You will read many more miracles and facts in our coming prayer guide. I encourage you to get the prayer materials to your family, friends, church and social network. At our end we are doing our utmost to produce the prayer guide so it will engage as many Christians as possible. We also encourage everyone to contribute financially to the ongoing work. There are many bills to pay for the new booklet and of course for the people in the fields.

So, what of the next 20 years? According to a 2011 Pew study, twenty years from now the Muslim world population will have doubled from what it was 20 years ago. Muslims will represent a quarter of the global population. As followers of Christ, we must rise to meet this growth with a double portion of faith and love. Let's keep up the avalanche of prayer.

God bless you, Ron and the team.

PS. We would like to add a Fund-raising person to the 30-Days team. Let me know if you can help. Thanks. You are welcome and encouraged to forward these e-mails to others. The "Donate" link is here: http://www.30-days.net/resources/donate/ or 30-days@xodigo.com on PayPal -- You are subscribed to the 30-days mailing list: Subscribe / Unsubscribe details -- Booklets | facebook | twitter