UNNAMED (Christian Examiner) -- Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, now known around the globe as Daesh or ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), is committing an increasing number horrific acts of terror, violence, dismemberment and murder. Many of these acts are aimed directly at Christians.
Christians throughout the world are responding with an increasing amount of righteous indignation, distain and hatred toward these evildoers. No doubt, many Christians have concluded that God has "given them over to a reprobate mind" (Romans 1), or and that their hearts are hardened beyond redemption. Sure, we conservative evangelicals believe that God loves them – after all, he loves everyone. And most of us believe that Christ died for all mankind, which includes them. But, do people this evil really ever change?
Just a few days ago, I was in a city (which will remain unnamed) on the other side of the globe, making an annual visit to Mr. and Mrs. *K (actual names are not revealed for security reasons). Part of their work is meeting with, training and leading Bible studies with new believers; all of them born into Muslim (Islamic) families. While I was there Mr. K received a phone call from one of the men he has been discipling.
The man explained that they had invited three Arabic speaking guests to a house group Bible study. Two of the three men were "amazed and astounded by the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ" so they came back three nights in a row. On their fourth visit, two of the three men joyfully and humbly professed faith in Jesus Christ.
The man Mr. K had been discipling called him to celebrate, but also to make sure that he had done nothing wrong. "No, absolutely not," he replied with joy-filled laughter. "Now, what about this third Syrian man?" Mr. K asked. The man on the phone explained that the third man was very uncomfortable with the Bible teaching, and expressed strong disapproval with his Islamic friends' decisions to become followers of Jesus Christ.
The man went on telling Mr. K the rest of the story. During one of the Bible studies, they said these three men revealed that they were members of Daesh (ISIS). That's right, two ISIS members have professed faith in Jesus Christ! While I was there, we spent time praying for these new believers. We asked God to give them boldness, courage, safety and a strong Christian influence. We also prayed for the third ISIS member who was very opposed to the other two placing their faith in Jesus Christ. We prayed for the Holy Spirit to touch his heart; and we prayed that he would not do anything to bring harm to the two men who trusted Jesus or to the people in the secret home Bible study group.
I am still basking in the wonder of it all.
UNNAMED -- At the request of the author, names and certain geographic details are not revealed in this column for security reasons.
Eric W. Ramsey is an international evangelism and missions strategist, and serves as president of TCWM