International (MNN) — As Islamic State (IS) terrorists wreak havoc in Iraq and Syria, their actions are spurring a ripple effect.
“It’s moving across the globe,” says Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI).
FMI supports national church leaders in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Each of these countries is now fighting Islamic State recruitment efforts. Allen says believers are fighting IS darkness with the Light of Christ.
“The pastors and church planters and evangelists in these countries have a great window of opportunity,” he shares. “Especially as leaders of the Christian community in these places of darkness, we have to be people who are buoyed by confidence and who are motivated by hope.”
Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, has publicly denounced the Islamic State. But that hasn’t always been the case.
“A conference last year in Jakarta, the capital, was calling for the establishment of a caliphate, and it drew about 100,000 people in attendance. Even members of our government attended,” one of FMI’s leaders in Indonesia told Allen in an e-mail.
“However, later, when ISIS emerged as the primary backer for a caliphate, our government tried to distance themselves from it.”
Earlier this month, Indonesia banned Islamic State ideology and is blocking Web sites that might contain IS materials. They’re also closely monitoring Indonesians’ travel plans to conflict zones in the Middle East.
“They’re trying to clamp down on things in Indonesia,” says Allen.
Indonesia isn’t the only country in Southeast Asia getting attention from IS.
Last week, four young men from India were arrested after trying to connect with an Islamic State recruiter in Bangladesh.
“What it alerted the Bangladeshi officials to is the fact that there is an operator or recruiter operating within their country,” says Allen. “Al-Qaeda, that’s ‘old guard.’ They’re considered stale and in-hiding. Now, the new wave is the Islamic State.”
The same holds true for Pakistan.
The Islamic State is adding another layer of turmoil to an already-frazzled Pakistan, says Allen. Multiple Islamic terror groups are taking advantage of a fractured government to make inroads to Pakistan’s frustrated society.
Last week, IS supporters began distributing a recruitment booklet printed in various local dialects.
“There are bumper stickers, there are chalk drawings on walls, all encouraging people to rally behind Islamic State,” Allen says. “It’s not just al-Qaeda, or Taliban, or Islamic State; it’s also Boko Haram that’s in Pakistan.”
Pastors supported by FMI fear the current leadership vacuum might only serve to clear the way for Islamic terrorists.
“Their concern is that these Muslims who are feeling so hopeless: they’re not going to care who fills the leadership vacuum. Are the people of Pakistan ‘ripe for the picking’ by the Islamic State?” Allen asks rhetorically.
There is a silver lining, though.
“If someone can point [Pakistanis] to light, they respond to that. So, the pastors and church planters and evangelists in these countries have a great window of opportunity at this point.”
The only thing they’re waiting for is your support. Click here to help church workers fight Islamic State darkness with the light and hope of Christ.
“In Bangladesh, we have five pastors and interns; in Indonesia we have nearly 30 seminary-trained pastors; and, in Pakistan, 20 full-time pastors and evangelists are waiting for support,” says Allen.