International (MNN) — The war between the people of the Caliphate and the people of the Cross goes beyond ISIS and the Middle East.
In reality, the battle is a spiritual one played out on ideological lines. Satanic influences woo hearts toward hatred and violence, and culture calls it “Islamic extremism.”
On-the-ground, jihadists aim their rage at people committed to Christ, those known to the radicals as “infidels.”
“As as we look at the world situation–ISIS in the Middle East… Boko Haram in Nigeria…al-Shabaab in northern Kenya and Somalia, Islamic extremism is sort of the ‘cutting edge’ of persecution,” notes Todd Nettleton, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs USA.
“It’s time to talk about what’s happening, to talk about the persecution that Christians are facing…. The majority of that [persecution] is coming from radical Islam.”
What drives Islamic extremism?
Some parties propose that Islamic extremism springs from poverty, or a lack of education. To be fair, this could be true in some cases. However, going “straight to the source” provides another perspective.
As explained here, the Quran “contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule.”
The leaders of countries around the world are trying to achieve one goal: stopping ISIS. They’re primarily seeking military solutions, but the former commander of U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) thinks their eyes are on the wrong goal.
“Sunni Islamic extremism is an idea, and it is hard to destroy an idea. It’s an ideology,” states General (Ret) John P. Abizaid in the CTC Sentinel.
“It will be very difficult for the United States to discredit someone else’s religious ideology. It takes the moderate people in the region to discourage this ideology from moving forward.”
Why do radicals persecute Christians?
Once again, direct instructions laid out in the most holy book of Islam–the Quran–provide insight to extremists’ intentional targeting of Christians and other non-Muslims.
Quran (9:29) – “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” “People of the Book” refers to Christians and Jews. According to this verse, they are to be violently subjugated, with the sole justification being their religious status. Verse 9:33 tells Muslims that Allah has charted them to make Islam “superior over all religions.” This chapter was one of the final “revelations” from Allah, and it set in motion the tenacious military expansion, in which Muhammed’s companions managed to conquer two-thirds of the Christian world in the next 100 years. Islam is intended to dominate all other people and faiths.
People from a Muslim background who come to faith in Christ aren’t exempt.
“Oftentimes in an Islamic culture, the first line of persecution is your own family,” notes Nettleton. “It’s your parents, it’s your older brother, who feel like your following Jesus Christ and leaving behind Islam is a mark of shame against your entire family.”
And yet, Muslim-background believers will gladly “face the fire” to make Christ known.
“I’m not sure there’s a human explanation; I think really it’s the power of the Holy Spirit” that makes this possible, explains Nettleton.
“I think of the verse that says, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’ Once you have tasted and seen…it doesn’t really matter what someone else does and says against you. You have that experience. You know that it’s real; you know that Jesus is alive.”
What does all of this have to do with me?
In God’s Word, Christians are instructed time and time again to care for one another.
“The Bible says that when one part of the Body of Christ suffers, we’re all supposed to feel that,” shares Nettleton.
“If you’re completely disconnected…you can’t feel their pain.”