International (MNN) — Today is the first day of the New Year.
As much as your newsfeeds were full of stories about the “Best of” for 2015, now they’ll be full of “Looking ahead” for 2016. Under “trending” stories, there were disasters, celebrities, and fluff stories in multiple news outlets, but terrorism generally leads the list.
Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, thinks that’s likely going to be the same story for 2016. Based on the activity they’ve been seeing already, it’s an educated guess that “one of the things that I think we’ll definitely see is the expansion of the Islamic State into more countries.”
When you consider that right before Christmas the U.N. Security Council extended sanctions against the Taliban in Afghanistan for 18 months, Nettleton adds, “I think in the next 12 months, there will be more countries where we see more radical Islamic groups pledge allegiance or rise up and say, ‘We’re the Islamic State in our country. We’re pledging allegiance to the ‘home base’ in Iraq and Syria.’”
That means, “Hold on to your hat; you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Already, there are headlines on the foiling of terror attacks in Europe; increased security around Churches in hot-spot areas of creative access nations, and more refugees. Interestingly, this is where the story takes a turn for the better.
The refugee crisis generated by the onslaught of ISIS has created one of the world’s biggest humanitarian challenges. Only recently has North America’s Church, as a whole, become aware of the situation and the call to action. “I think there is an incredible opportunity for Christians to respond in this situation as the body of Christ, as the hands of Jesus Christ, to reach out and bless and encourage and help those who are so desperately in need of help,” adds Nettleton.
Yet, there are people who are asking why the crisis is still garnering so much attention. To that, he responds, “We’re still talking about it because it’s still an issue. There are still people who are fleeing Syria, they’re fleeing Iraq. They see no future for their children in those places, so they’re saying, ‘Listen, if our children want to have a future, we’ve got to take them somewhere else.’”
In other words, the major issues that generated mass movement won’t be solved in 12 months.
Nettleton goes on to say that as Christians become part of the solution, they’re looking for resources to help them reach out to people who are desperate for hope. “They are open to the Gospel message that says, ‘You don’t have to impress God with how violent you can be on His behalf. God actually sent His Son to earth because He loves us, and He wants to have a relationship with us.’” VOM provides those resources along with other practical ways to encourage the body of Christ under fire around the world. (To see what else they offer, click here.)
The New Year offers 365 days to put feet to faith like you’ve never done before. It starts with the first step.