The news of the recent attacks in Manchester and London are shocking. Terrorists, with extremist views targeting innocent people, families and children. It’s hard to know how to respond, what to think and how to pray, especially when groups like Islamic State exploit the religious motivations of the suicide bombers.
So, what should we do? We might struggle to forgive, but hate is never the answer.
Whether or not you remember the September 11 attacks in 2001, you would have heard about them. Two planes, full of innocent passengers were hijacked by an extremist Islamic terrorist group and flown into the Twin Towers. Thousands were killed. At that point, attitudes towards Islam in the West underwent a massive change. In the UK the Manchester attack is likely to spark resentment, fear and hatred of Islam too. But that can’t be our response.
Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, has a simple acronym that he uses to describe his attitude towards Muslims: I.S.L.A.M = I Sincerely Love All Muslims. And back in 2001 he spoke these words about the Muslim world:
“But by far, by far, our greatest challenge lies ahead of us. And that’s how we face the issue raised by Islam. Think of the millions of Muslims around the world who are not terrorists but peaceable, hard-working, family-centered men and women. Think of all the Muslims who work in inner cities among the addicted, the homeless. The abused – people too often abandoned by the churches… my experience is that most are gentle folk, tainted by the terrorist tactics of the few.
“Of course it would be easy once again to raise a whole lot of money by spreading fear and hatred. But I’ll never do that.
“I am not anti-Islam, I am pro-Jesus.”
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me… ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-40
‘Love your enemy’ Jesus told us. But when Jesus told us to love those who persecute us, He wasn’t giving us a suggestion. He was giving a command.”
“We have to go to Muslims wherever they are, and meet them at their point of need. If we can’t take Christ to them by preaching, we’ll take Christ to them by living. There is not one Muslim country at this moment with absolutely closed borders. You can get anywhere if you go to serve. In schools, in water management, in banks, in hospitals, in technology. Being there quietly, fulfilling the command to go into all the world to represent Jesus among the hurting people of the earth.
“There are huge and growing Muslim populations in New York and London and Amsterdam and Berlin. In our own backyards there is plenty of opportunity for presence evangelism. First earn the right to get their attention; then show them Jesus.
“It’s high Christian adventure if your heart is in the right place. Because wherever you are, Jesus will be, too.”
“I AM NOT ANTI-ISLAM, I AM PRO-JESUS.”
Let’s pray we can have the same response to what has unfolded in the UK recently.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.