“We bless the Lord for ISIS. God has used ISIS to bring us to a place of repentance that we would see His goodness and we have. God has blessed us!”
Iraqi follower of Jesus
I have recently returned from where the Garden of Eden was located. It was the cradle of civilization! It is where Noah built the ark and it is where the Tower of Babel was. Isaac’s wife Rebekah was from here and Jacob met Rachel in this mystical land. Jonah preached here a message of repentance and it is in this place that Daniel was in the lion’s den while three Hebrew children were in the fiery furnace (Jesus had been here, also, as the fourth Person in the Fiery Furnace!). The wise men were from here and Peter preached here. Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. However, the place I am speaking about is the second most mentioned nation in the Bible.
But in this present day, it is a place of terror and loss; of brokenness and beauty. It is a contrast of light and darkness. It is where the Christians are known as “the candles in the land.” It is a place where the stories are compelling. There is sadness and there is triumph.
Here is a sample of their stories:
One man (a Lawyer) said, “We have lost everything. I lost my family. The Bible says to Love our enemies. How do we do that? Our families are displaced and separated. Our problem is not food it is dignity. We feel neglected. 140,000 people left the Nineveh Plain in a matter of hours.”
A Priest stated that you see the pain in our people’s eyes. We need stability and peace. We do not need food packages, but peace.
We met with people who had escaped ISIS minutes before with only the clothes on their backs. BUT time and again their story was, “we bless the Lord for ISIS. God has used ISIS to bring us to a place of repentance that we would see His goodness and we have. God has blessed us!” WHAT? This is their story time and time again. They are broken and they are beautiful. Jesus is enough.
As usual one walks away from these ventures feeling as if they received far more than they were able to give. At the same time you have a sense that God’s work is about getting you aligned with Him and His priorities. Is Jesus Enough? Would I gladly and gratefully embrace leaving my home, losing family, having no job, and then live with as many as six families (average of 5 to a family unit here) in a 10×10 foot room with communal toilets, and no laundry? BUT this is the kicker: Would I Bless the name of the Lord for His goodness to me? What? I just lost what appears to be everything. And yes, consistently, across the board, they would smile and say that HE IS GOOD. At times we would hold them as they cried, but their tears were not of bitterness and the loss of what they “were entitled to. “They were humble and gracious and kind. The fragrance of Jesus in their lives was sweet and it was refreshing.”
Could I? Would I? I DO NOT KNOW… I do not know BECAUSE I have not faced these decisions. But I know intellectually JESUS IS ENOUGH.
I pray that we will experience the reality of this daily. So for four days in a land ravaged by death and displacement I sensed that I saw this and held this and experienced the beauty of Jesus that maybe only suffering can reveal.
“When Christ died He left a will in which He gaveHis soul to His Father, His body to Joseph ofArimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and Hismother to John. But to His disciples, who left all tofollow Him, He left no silver or gold, but somethingfar better — His PEACE!”
What would you do if you weren’t afraid? When you have His peace you allow ALL of those things to dissipate that use to hold you back: financial provision, life, relationships, and death. You will dare to take risks and you will venture into the unknown, pioneering a way for others to follow. But will you? You cannot unless you press into Jesus and understand that He is the better way, the BEST way. We cannot nor will we have any lasting influence on a fallen world apart from placing our lives in His hands. It is there that we will find Peace. It is found in relationship.
I was recently in Istanbul. We were visiting one of the beautiful sites the city has to offer after returning from a venture into one of the “hard places.” As we embarked on the tour that was offered, a young man from Baghdad inserted himself into our group. I asked him if he was going to pay for half of the tour? He was a bit startled until I winked at him in jest. I told him that the requirement for being in our group of five other men was that he would have to be our friend for life. I learned that he was 21 years of age, a Muslim, a pharmacy student, and that his father was in an Istanbul hospital after suffering a stroke. After we finished the tour I asked this young man if we could ask Isa (Jesus) to heal his father. Muslims believe that Jesus is the great healer. Tearing up, he said, “You would do that for us?” We gathered around him and prayed that THE GREAT HEALER would heal his father. He was visibly
moved. He hugged us and told us he loved us. He took a “selfie” with us and posted it on Facebook with these words: “Nicest people in our country!” How do you reach someone? You love them. You show them respect. You remind them of the worth that only THE GREAT HEALER can ascribe to an individual. It’s not that hard, BUT if other things stand in the way and we do not have HIS Peace, we will never be able to see the opportunities that lie in front of us day-to-day.