Middle East (MNN) — 41 people were killed in Turkey last week. 42 were also murdered in Yemen, and 5 people each in Jordan and Lebanon.
What do these tragic incidents have in common? They were all
attacks by Muslim extremists, and they all barely made a blip in
headlines or formally on social media.
(Photo courtesy of openDemocracy via Flickr)
However, after extremist attacks
killed 49 people in the American city of Orlando, and 32 in Europe’s
Brussels airport, other countries worldwide lit up their monuments in
the affected nation’s colors, and Facebook added a photo filter in honor
of those lives lost.
Why the contrast?
Christian Aid Mission’s Steve Van Valkenburg offers perspective.
“I think that’s just part of human nature. If it’s somebody we identify
with, then it becomes a much bigger deal and gets our attention because
it’s closer to home…. We don’t really get drawn into it because they’re
not really in our back yard or in our front yard so we just don’t pay
attention to it.”
This series of suicide assaults by
radical Muslims could increase suspicions and wariness between nationals
and the refugees pouring over their borders. We’re already seeing the
impact in Lebanon, which has raised its national terror alert.
“In a place like Lebanon where there
was recently a bombing, this just makes Lebanon that much more
concerned. Same with Jordan; Jordan just had that problem recently in
the last week or so. So that just makes refugee ministry much harder to
deal with because they’re much more suspicious,” says Van Valkenburg.
(Photo courtesy of Jeff Attaway via Flickr)
“Ministries reaching out to refugees
have to be much more concerned now because they know there may be
terrorist-type people among the refugees, maybe intentionally. That just
makes things much harder because they know they have to be much more
careful in reaching out and helping.”
Christian Aid Mission assists
ministries in and around Syria working with refugees fleeing the
conflict. While they have to practice caution in the areas they work, it
hasn’t slowed their goal to bring healing, hope and the Gospel to those
who are displaced.
“At Christian Aid, we help probably well over 100 ministries that
are targeting trying to show Christ to Muslims, and really that’s the
Governments and militaries in the
Middle East and Europe are trying to address the ISIS conflicts at a
national level. But Van Valkenburg estimates the biggest impact will
come from Christian outreach at the heart level, especially as we come
to the end of Ramadan today, Islam’s holy month.
“Ramadan is supposed to be a struggle
to increase devotion to Allah…. For some, unfortunately, their struggle
or devotion to Allah becomes something they do that destroys people.
There’s nothing really that’s going to prevent that apart from people’s
hearts being changed, and only Christ can change hearts.
“As Christians, every day we should
be struggling to increase our devotion to Jesus Christ, but that’s by
showing love — loving our neighbor, loving our enemy. That’s a far
different idea in terms of our struggle. But for the Christian, every
day that’s our desire is that the love of Christ would be lived out in
Middle Eastern countries suffering from extremist attacks,
displacement, and loss need to be more than just white noise in the
background of the international landscape.
(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission
Galatians 6:9 tells us to “…not grow
weary of doing good…” (ESV). That includes praying for God to move in
countries who seem to have constant need.
Here’s one way you can stay engaged
with Christian Aid Mission: “[You] can always sign up for Missions
Insider that Christian Aid Mission puts out every week, and that will
give a brand new glimpse into what’s happening in other countries in
terms of sharing the Gospel with people and obviously increasing their
Click here to read about Christian Aid Mission’s latest story from the Middle East or to sign up for their Missions Insider Report emails.
And it may seem like a shameless plug
on our part, but here’s also why Van Valkenburg says it’s important to
find information sources like Mission Network News! “By reading and
listening to Mission Network News, people become familiar with the world
around them. The news you get from Mission Network News is going to be
very different than what you get in the newspaper.
“Those are all ways that people become more familiar so they can
pray more intelligently, because God answers prayer and God is working.
We appreciate very much those around the world who continually pray for
hearts to be changed, and that is happening.”
Pray for the Lord to give Christians
in the Middle East courage for each day, compassion for their neighbors,
and boldness to share the Gospel’s hope. Pray for Muslims and others in
the Middle East who don’t know Christ to embrace God’s truth of
salvation and love.
Source: Mission Network