Day 19: Muslim extremists — praying for our enemies
By Gary Fallesen
, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Our Nigerian brother in Christ and another pastor were abducted last Friday by Fulani herdsmen, who demanded a ransom of ten million Naira (about US$30,000). Many in our network of ministries bowed their hearts and fell to their knees on behalf of these two men.
C4C Canada coordinator Brandy Fisher felt the need to ask her church family to stand and pray for this crisis on Sunday morning. After worship a man approached Brandy. “He was sweating he was so nervous,” Brandy said. “He humbly said to me that he felt God speak to him, and with tears in his eyes he said, ‘I believe these men will be freed and unharmed.’ He continued to say that not only will the men be free, but they will have a moment to share Christ with their abductors and they will come to know Christ as well.”
And everyone said, “Amen!”
Sunday night the two Christians were released unharmed. Hallelujah!
We continue to pray for those who abducted them.
Jesus told us “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
” (Matthew 5:44
). “But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you
” (Luke 6:27-28
The Book of Proverbs tells us: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink
” (Prov. 25:21
These verses are easy to write and easy to read. But how easy are they to DO?
“We should love our enemies and pray for them,” says Evangelist Haseeb, a long-time Climbing For Christ member from Pakistan whose family has been attacked by Muslims. His sister was abducted in 2014 and forced to marry a Muslim (see Day 7
of Project Prayer: Ramadan 2016); they have not seen her since. “Yes, we are also praying for our enemies and those who are persecuting us.
“We are praying for our sister and also praying for those who abducted her.”
You may have endured some level of persecution. How did you react?
Imagine being the Nigerian brother who was taken by Fulani herdsmen, a nomadic people whose conflict with farmers has escalated in recent years because of ties with Islamist movements to include targeting Christians and their communities. Imagine being a loved one of someone taken or even killed by Islamic extremists, such as:
- Boko Haram — Founded in 2002, Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād (“Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad”) is better known in Hausa-language slang for “Western education is forbidden” (or Boko Haram). Their goal is to establish an Islamic nation in the northern half of Nigeria, where Sharia law is followed and every man, woman and child is a Sunni Muslim. As a result, Christians have been targeted with more than 1,000 churches burned since 2009, according to Voice of the Martyrs. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in March 2015.
Open Doors, a ministry that serves persecuted Christians worldwide, mapped ISIS’s affiliates in its Presence magazine (Spring 2016).
- ISIS — The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (also known as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) doubled in size in the past year with 43 global affiliates, according to Open Doors. Among those swearing allegiance to this terrorist organization are groups in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.
- Moro National Liberation Front — Worked to gain an autonomous region in the Philippines (on the island of Mindanao), marking the first time a Muslim minority has gained independence and intended to implement Sharia law within a non-Muslim, democratic nation. Several more violent splinter groups have come out of the MNLF, including the Abu Sayyaf Group, which supports ISIS.
The Voice of the Martyrs recently published a resource highlighting nine of the top Islamic extremist groups persecuting Christians. It included Boko Haram, ISIS and the MNLF. The others were: Al-Qaida, The Taliban, Al-Shabab, The Muslim Brotherhood, the Sudanese Islamist Regime, and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM in North Africa).
In this guide we were reminded again what Jesus said: “‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you
” (John 15:20
We must also remember the words of the One we follow, spoken as He suffered on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
“Our Jesus Christ gives us a lesson by forgiving them who kill him on the cross,” Haseeb said. “We also should pray for our enemies. ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another’ (John 13:34-35).
“If we (are) thinking about persecution then we should remember what the Bible says: ‘For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?’ (Luke 23:31)”
We must learn to forgive … to love … and to pray, pray, pray. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14).
- Day 1: Introduction to 30 days of prayer and preparation to preach the Good News to the Muslim world.
- Day 2: Understanding Islam, part 1 —Allah and his prophet.
- Day 3: The honor/shame culture, part 1.
- Day 4: Sharing the Gospel, part 1 — Truth and love, no compromise.
- Day 5: The Muslim unengaged.
- Day 6: What’s so radical about loving Muslims?
- Day 7: Entering rooms in the House of Islam —Pakistan.
- Day 8: Entering rooms in the House of Islam — Nigeria.
- Day 9: Entering rooms in the House of Islam — Turkey.
- Day 10: Understanding Islam, part 2.
- Day 11: Sharing the Gospel, part 2 — Simply Jesus.
- Day 12: Overcoming obstacles, part 1 — Family, fear, community and tradition.
- Day 13: Something is happening! New ways for new movements.
- Day 14: Entering rooms in the House of Islam – East Africa.
- Day 15: Understanding Islam, part 3 — Beliefs and duties
- Day 16: Sharing the Gospel, part 3 — Persevering in prayer.
- Day 17: The honor/shame culture, part 2 — Who I am.
- Day 18: Overcoming obstacles, part 2 — A history of conflict and contempt.
- Day 19: Muslim extremists — praying for our enemies.