Middle East (MNN) — These days, we are inundated by negative stories. That’s why it’s important to remember that miracles still exist and God is still working. It’s important to tell stories of God’s faithfulness, His grace, and His goodness. The truth is, these stories still exist, even when they’re not readily at our fingertips. E3 Partner’s new book, “Standing in the Fire”, is a collection of inspirational stories that not only will give you hope, but challenge your own walk with God.
Tom Doyle of e3 Partners is the author of “Killing Christians”, a book with true stories of people who have died for their faith. “Standing in the Fire” is a follow-up that shares real stories of God intervening.
Like “Killing Christians”, many of these stories come from new believers from Muslim backgrounds who are ready to die as followers of Jesus. But God has chosen to spare them.
Doyle says, “They are like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing in the fire. There is no reason for their existence other than Jesus is with them.”
The unlikely followers of Jesus
The book includes testimonies from former terrorists — from ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. There is also the story of a secret policemen in Syria, and a woman married to a Muslim imam. These Christians have decided to follow Jesus, even though they know the real risks behind this decision.
“I believe it will be a real inspiration for us because we’re seeing believers in places like Iraq and Syria who are living a joyful life in the midst of war and threat on their life every day. They figure that they’re probably going to die for Jesus, so they make every day count,” Doyle says.
These believers don’t worry about the future because they know it is surely with Christ. It’s a strange concept, and one that puts many of us to shame. But Doyle says they don’t fear things like elections, terrorism, or the future economy.
“I just think from these new believers we can learn a lot about living boldly for Christ and not living in fear, because God never called us to live that way. That’s not what Jesus called his followers to do — to be cowering. He called them to be courageous.”
Telling their story
Doyle and his wife began ministry in the Middle East about two decades ago. What he’s seen and experienced since then has changed him forever.
“We were the normal Americans that, in a sense, had some idols in our lives. And what the idols were, were comfort and safety.”
He says this is something humans gravitate towards naturally. But when God calls upon the heart of a Muslim, they know right off the bat what it will mean to accept.
“Former Muslims that come to faith in Christ, in their DNA from the beginning, is stamped on them that it’s going to be dangerous. That they could be persecuted by their family. They might even be killed by their family. Honor killings are soaring in the Middle East. Islam is trying to stamp out Christian conversion, but it’s not stopping people from coming to faith in Christ.”
While we don’t know what the future might bring, Doyle, like many others, believes that persecution could be right around the corner for Christians in the West. That is just one more reason why it is so important to hear the stories of the persecuted, and to see what resilient faith really looks like.
These examples are timely, crucial lessons for us — no matter what comes.
In addition, Doyle says knowing their stories will cause us to pray for the persecuted more passionately and with more dedication.
Facing the firing squad
Doyle gives us a sneak-peek at the book by sharing the story of a former terrorist.
Soon after he encountered Christ, this man was captured by the same terrorist group he had been a part of. He was threatened with death by firing squad if he did not say he had converted back to Islam. In fact, one of the terrorists told him to just say the words, even if he didn’t mean it. If he did, they’d let him go.
He refused, saying he could not deny Jesus either in word or in heart.
Doyle says, “I won’t spoil the story for you, but he lives. It’s a God-sized story of biblical proportions that just happened months ago in the Middle East.”
This modern-day “Daniel in the lion’s den” story is a reminder that God is still working. It is also a reminder that the Gospel thrives when persecution is high.
“The Church in the Middle East is growing faster per capita than any other region in the world. Even though it could get you killed for receiving Jesus, that’s not stopping new believers from coming to faith in Christ out of a Muslim background,” Doyle explains.
“Standing in the Fire” comes out in just over a month. It will be available at various Christian book distributors, as well as large book retail stores.
Doyle hopes this will be a catalyst for Christians to reach out to Muslim neighbors and seek relationships with them. He hopes it will deepen your prayer lives as well.