Jordan (MNN) — Outrage spread across the Arab world in the wake of a grisly video released by the Islamic State terror group.
No stranger to horrible content, the video of the immolation of a caged Jordanian pilot crossed a line, says the Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton. “It’s one thing when you’re attacking the so-called ‘infidels:’ the Christians, the Yezidis. But when you are killing a Muslim in such a horrific manner and clearly taking a considerable amount of joy in it, it is causing Muslims to really look at their own faith.”
In committing such an obscene act, Muslim scholars are questioning the terror group’s violations of Islamic ideology. Their goal since their formation in 2004 has always been to establish a caliphate, or a strict Islamic State. One of the goals of these groups is to fulfill jihad, which would involve the annihilation of the country’s Christian population.
However, if the Islamic State hoped to rally disenfranchised youth to their cause, it might have actually backfired, says Nettleton. “This can be a key time of sharing the Gospel and speaking into that Islamic heart that says, ‘Is that really what my faith teaches? If it is, I might want to consider something else.'”
Nettleton points to key times in history throughout the Middle East when heavy-handed tactics in the name of Islam drove people away. “I have heard Iranian Christians say that Ayatollah Khomeini was the greatest Christian missionary in the history of Iran. He was not even a Christian, but he brought into very sharp relief: this is what Islam is, this is what Islam does, and this is what Islam teaches. The people of Iran said, ‘That doesn’t reflect the deepest desires of my heart. What else is out there?’ And now, today, we see the fastest growing church in the world in Iran.”
In fact, as ISIS brutality spreads throughout Syria and Iraq, Nettleton says they’re finding that refugees are saying, “‘I want to hear about other options. I want to hear about Jesus Christ.’ That’s something that we can pray for the people of Iraq, the people of Syria, and the people of Jordan, as well, who now see this in very, very clear relief because of the killing of this pilot.”
Although the Islamic State is well-funded and organized, they’re not unstoppable. Military response aside, this fight goes deeper. Nettleton urges, “Pray for the persecutors. Pray for ISIS and pray for Muslims in the Middle East to come to know Christ in a personal way.”
Why bother? Prayer is the first-line defense when it comes to warfare of this kind. “We hear consistently amazing stories of people being brought to faith in Christ through dreams and visions, through supernatural things–the book of Acts literally coming to life in the Middle East today.”
VOM is assisting Christians with temporary shelter and basic necessities. VOM is also supporting families of martyrs and actively equipping indigenous evangelists in all areas of Iraq as well as those who are planting underground churches and distributing Bibles. To that end, says Nettleton, “We want to pray for our brothers and sisters: the Christians who are there, who are affected by ISIS, for strengthening of them, for encouragement, for opportunities to be a witness even though they are persecuted. There are opportunities to reflect the face of Christ.”