I never meant to be in a fight, let alone one played out across the world. But this one has crossed the ocean, jumped the divide, and struck a chord right in the heartland of America, the heartland of my very soul.
I wanted to spend the rest of my days writing about thoughtful pursuits, faith, and hope. I wanted to be a man of peace that would age gracefully, allowing the gray hair to take over my head one hair at a time. I wanted to fade away and not burn out.
I’ve read the headlines, just like you. I’ve turned my head when I’ve seen the men kneeling on the shores of Tripoli, declaring their faith even as the life was drained from their neck. I’ve hashtagged and prayed for the hundreds of innocent Nigerian girls snatched from their school, pretending they were in a good place, hiding in the forest. I’ve chalked the fighting up to civil war or politics gone astray.
Consumed with work, and summer vacation plans, and a car with an overdue oil change, I went about my life. After all, it wasn’t my fight.
But in these last two months, I’ve been ushered into this modern-day stand for righteousness. I’ve been to Jordan and interviewed dozens of ordinary citizens, as well as senior government officials and underground church workers. I’ve stood with Ethiopians who are crying out for justice, for someone to care. I’ve befriended a woman whose daughter is a Muslim convert and they a working toward peace. I’ve met good, decent Muslims who abhor what’s happening. In the past few weeks I’ve met with Middle Easterners – both Muslim and Christian – who tremble.
I’ve taken it all in – wondering, waiting on God. What does it all mean? Why now? Why me? I’ve finding that my presuppositions and presumptions have fallen. My mind is changing. And the words are coming.
This fight is against evil. And I’m now a soldier.
Here’s the truth. Don’t look away. ISIS-ISIL-Daesch is rolling through countries like Iraq and Syria, but also Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tunisia. They find villages that are predominately Christian or Shia Muslim. They overrun the local populace and often behead the men. They take the women as sex prizes, and then capture the children – boys and girls – to be sold as slaves. This is not crazy-eyed fundamentalist talk. This is real.
Our government wants us to believe the battle of the day is against climate change, or police power, or those who make too much money. I cannot utter one more word about such things when the rest of the world is gripped by fear.
For the men who are reading, I want to appeal to you right now. Are we content to rely on politics, for the UN or some other power to make a change? Will we stand for the females who are suffering here? These are our women in the family of humanity and this is our call. Is your passion college football, the latest smartphone, your workout routine? Really? Is that you are called to do?
What about the Muslim question?
I think far too many of us are afraid to say something because of the Muslim question. In this society we don’t speak truth because we will be called intolerant or judgmental, so we mumble nonsense.
We don’t want to talk about this issue because the barbarians claim to be the true Islamics, hoping to restore purity to their faith by fear. It’s true — they claim to be Muslims, but do Muslims themselves embrace them?
Simply because they call on Allah doesn’t mean they represent an entire faith group. Wiping the earth with blood doesn’t splatter every person who worships under a crescent on the roof. Like many others before them, they are using their religion as a rallying cry.
I hate it when people think Christians are judgmental, or ignorant, or divisive because of the acts of a few. As a group, we turn away snake handlers, Fred Phelps and those who kill unbelievers.
I’ve had conversations with more than 100 Muslims in the last month, and not one of them has agreed with this savagery. They don’t secretly cheer the traffickers, the rapists, the murderers. Sure, you can pull proof texts out of their Koran, even as we have our own texts from Scriptures that are terrible to read on their own. You can cite polls about those who believe in the extremes of Sharia Law or honor killings or any other radical element. But by and large, Muslims are afraid of these people too.
To be honest, I believe much of the world has ignored this issue because Christians have often been the targets. When a cartoonist was killed, the world was aghast that free speech would be stymied. But when thousands of Christian women are passed around as sex objects, we collectively yawn.
So let’s for a second set aside the religion of the attackers and the attacked and start to talk honestly.
Calling evil by its name
If you are a atheist or an unbeliever, you shouldn’t clap because Christians are “getting their due” (someone sent me an e-mail with this gem) Yes, we had our Crusades a millennium ago. Yes, we have used the cross inappropriately at times. But can you set that aside, and can I speak to your heart? These are crimes against humans. We need you to stand.
If you are a Muslim, you are welcome to this battle, shoulder to shoulder with all us, without fear of retribution or being called a sell-out. This is no time to review a thousands years of division. We need your voice.
If you are a Christian, you shouldn’t broad-brush an entire religion for the sins of a few (We hate that, don’t we, when fools blow up abortion clinics or protest funerals or say stupid things in the name of Jesus.) Yes, you are offended and threatened by the cries of this army. But we need you to take a stand, even it’s side by side with a Muslim if that’s what it takes.
Once we get past the rhetoric , then perhaps we will have the will and wisdom to do the right thing. But it begins with all of us to call this thing evil.
So here is my stand and if I have to stand alone, then so be it..