• Jesus Loves Terrorists

It almost hurts to look at the news in today's world. It seems as though each and every day there is another terrorist attack, bringing mayhem and misery to innocent civilians.

Terrorism is the biggest concern of Foreign Service employees and their families assigned to posts overseas."

Nations and governments around the world are aghast at the amount of carnage inflicted by various terrorists groups, putting entire continents on high alert.1 Europe has even designated five "danger zones" within the region: Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.2

And in the United States of America, constant attention is devoted to fighting terrorism. According to the Department of State (DS):

"Terrorism is the biggest concern of Foreign Service employees and their families assigned to posts overseas. Fighting terrorism abroad requires major effort and great coordination between DS program managers and regional security officers at U.S. embassies.

"DS also works with other federal agencies, the intelligence community, international law enforcement agencies, and the private sector to prevent terrorism against Americans overseas and at home."3

Terrorism is the new normal on the world stage—there were over 200 reported terrorist attacks in 2014.4

Over a recent period of two weeks (as of January 24, 2015), the following terrorist attacks took place:

  • Twelve are dead after three terrorists killed magazine editors and cartoonists in France.5
  • Two thousand people were reported killed in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram.6 This increases the number of people they've murdered since 2011 to 16,000.7

But while it may be the new norm, terrorism is not a new phenomenon. As Pastor Skip Heitzig reminds us in his forthcoming booklet Jesus Loves Terrorists, "Not only did 9/11 change the physical, emotional, and spiritual landscape of Manhattan and the United States; it changed the public's understanding of a word we've now become all too familiar with: terrorism.

"Prior to 9/11, most Americans thought of terrorism as something that happened in other parts of the world. And yet, both in the United States and around the world, terrorism was alive and well. Just a few years before 9/11, on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck full of explosives outside a federal building in Oklahoma City. The explosion killed 168 people and wounded hundreds more. The blast was felt sixteen blocks away.

"You could even go back further into history: September 16, 1920, when a Wall Street bombing killed thirty-eight people; or to Los Angeles in 1910, when a union worker planted dynamite at the Los Angeles Times building, killing twenty-one people. The fact is, even in America, terrorism is nothing new. Historically, a case could be made that the first terrorist attack was Satan's rebellion against God.8"9

As crazy as it might sound—and in spite of the awful consequences of terrorism—God loves the terrorist. He yearns for the terrorist to turn from his or her ways and look to Jesus Christ for restoration.

Define

Oxford Dictionaries defines a terrorist as "a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims."10 It goes on to state that the modern meaning of the word began in late-eighteenth-century France. The French word terroriste, derived from the Latin terroris, was "originally applied to supporters of the Jacobins in the French Revolution, who advocated repression and violence in pursuit of the principles of democracy and equality."11

Pastor Skip digs in deeper: "The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines terrorism as 'the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal,' although not all of those goals are political in nature; some are religious, and some, such as public shootings, are driven by psychological issues. Regardless of motivation, though, a terrorist is someone who uses terrorism in the pursuit of such goals."12

Whatever the motivation may be—political, religious, financial, or cyber—the terrorist's objective is to bring fear, horror, and dread.

Discover

Here are some verses about terrorism and evil:

  • "Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm 34:14).
  • "O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more" (Psalm 10:17-18, ESV).
  • "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:18-21).

Develop

Statistically, we are far more likely to encounter victims of terrorism than actual terrorists. Pastor Skip reminds us why it's important to reach out to those who have suffered and even to pray for those who have caused the suffering:

"Christians are God's hands; we're His feet, we're the body of Christ. We're the ones who get involved—who need to be sensitized to pain, suffering, torture, and terrorism…. [Let] the world see…loving kinds of acts of God in our response to acts of terror.

"My prayer for all terrorists is that they find a new kingdom to fight for: God's kingdom. And unlike the physical violence of terrorist warfare, our war is not with flesh and blood, but against the spiritual authorities of this world (see Ephesians 6:12). For those affected by terrorism, I pray for their comfort and strength in suffering, that their struggles would draw them closer to the God who loves them, and that we as God's church would respond to His call to love 'the least of these' (Matthew 25:40), to reach out to those most in need of our help and the love of Jesus."13

Pray that God would give you the opportunity to love someone the way He loves them—the way He loves you. To reach a person with the love of God, whether it is someone you know or someone you have yet to meet, use the acronym LOVE as a guide:

L—Listen to people. Make a sincere effort to get to know them and their situation. In the case of those affected by terrorism, don't make assumptions. Ask questions to clarify, and listen well.
O—Observe their life. Where are they coming from—emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually? Should terrorism be a factor, the root of the issue will be suffering in almost every case. Ask yourself, How can I assist them?
V—Voice God's truth. What does the Bible teach concerning suffering and God's love for those in need?
E—Embrace them with the love of God in Christ. You may or may not have shared experience, but keep Jesus the focus of your conversation and outreach.

Beyond reaching out in LOVE, we may need further help in extending Christ's love to those affected by terrorism. With God's support, we can help them RESIST fear:

R—Reach them with the love of Christ.
E—Equip them with needed supplies and God's Word.
S—Support those affected by terrorism, however God leads.
I—Inform others about the plight of people caught in the crossfire of terrorism. One way to do this is through Reload Love.15
S—Stand up and remind others that terrorism is real and it affects real people.
T—Speak the truth of Scripture into any and all terrorist-related situations.

Jesus loves terrorists and those affected by terrorism. Will you?

 

 

 

 

 

1 Megan Gibson, "Europe on High Alert Following Shootings and Arrests," January 16, 2015, accessed 1/19/15.

2 Jason Rodrigues, "Terror attacks in Europe: the five danger zones," January 16, 2015, accessed 1/19/15.

3 U.S. Department of State, "Fighting Terrorism," accessed 1/19/15.

4 Wikipedia, "List of terrorist incidents, 2014," accessed 1/19/15.

5 BBC News Europe, "Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 12," January 7, 2015, accessed 1/19/15.

6 Aminu Abubakar and Faith Karimi, "2,000 feared killed in 'deadliest' Boko Haram attack in Nigeria," January 12, 2015, accessed 1/19/15.

7 Christopher Snyder, "Boko Haram terrorists gaining strength in Nigeria," January 14, 2015, accessed 1/19/15.

8 See Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18.

9 Skip Heitzig, Jesus Loves Terrorists, Connection Communications, 2015.

10 Oxford Dictionaries, "Terrorist," accessed 1/19/15.

11 Ibid.

12 Skip Heitzig, Jesus Loves Terrorists, Connection Communications, 2015.

13 Skip Heitzig, Jesus Loves Terrorists, Connection Communications, 2015.

14 Visit reloadlove.com for more information on how you can help children affected by terrorism.