Syria (MNN) — ISIS has lost 99 percent of its territory. The American-backed coalition is working to push the remains of ISIS from its birthplace Hajin, Syria. Yet, even with the land area the terror group has lost, it is still considered one of the world’s deadliest terror organizations.
ISIS Loses Land, Not Caliphate
True, ISIS controlling less land is a good thing. It means the group will not have control of the land’s resources or the people. However, Open Doors USA’s Dr. David Curry says liberating the land does not mean the fight against ISIS is over.
“They have a virtual caliphate now. They don’t need territory. They don’t need a capital. They have nodes in the network that are still active. They have massive wealth that has expanded their ability to train, to fund, and to attack. Most importantly their philosophy is still alive and well,” Curry explains.
ISIS had thousands of extremists in Iraq. Once ISIS was uprooted there, the extremists drifted back into their previous societies. The ideology which helped build ISIS physically has not been extinguished. Until the philosophy of ISIS is addressed, the war against ISIS cannot be measured purely by land control.
Other signs also indicate that ISIS will remain a long-term problem. The New York Times reports that ISIS attacks in the West have decreased for the first time since 2014, but not the number of attempted attacks. The explanation for this—law enforcement is intersecting more plans for attacks before they are accomplished.
Battling an Ideology
In the Middle East, Curry says if ISIS ideology remains embedded in the local societies, terror attacks against churches in the region can be expected, though. This is one of many reasons why Open Doors is helping Christians stay in the Middle East. The organization has projects, like centers which provide trauma care and support, to help strengthen churches in the communities impacted by terror.
“Christians…can stay and be salt and light in these communities, but also the community at large because so many times we forget the Muslim world does not understand [the] Christian faith. They don’t know the theology behind it. Many of them haven’t been educated on it. What they know is what they’ve heard from extremists talking points,” Curry shares.
“When Christians can be salt and light in the middle of these communities, helping their neighbors, loving their neighbors in Jesus’ name, it makes a big difference and peoples’ eyes are opened.”
By strengthening local churches, Open Doors is also attempting to help prevent the making of refugees as well as to break down ISIS theology in communities. Curry says the Middle East needs the love of Jesus on a neighbor to neighbor level. The region needs spiritual healing. Christians can help offer these things if their global brothers and sisters help support them.
Be Prayerful, Be Active
Please, would you help? Pray for the protection and health of the Syrian and Iraqi Churches. These churches have lost leaders, they have been ripped apart over the last four years. Pray for their healing too.
Ask God to strengthen these churches as well. Pray God would give the revelation in this region that Jesus is the answer, even in times of hopelessness. Finally, pray for these Christians in the Middle East and for Christ to disrupt ISIS’ extreme ideology.
(Header photo courtesy Dan via Flickr)