Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Something to live for

Like you, I harbor a great many ill-feelings toward the group we call ISIS (known as the Islamic State).

I mean, what's not to detest?  They kill Christians, suspected women adulterers, homosexuals and countless innocent bystanders that don't fall into any particular political or religious group.  Islamic State has plans to continue bringing terror to the West in an effort to enforce a very strict form of Islam on the rest of the world.

But I forget that even ISIS is comprised of human beings - not beyond the reach of God's grace (and our prayers).

So I will continue to abhor ISIS but I will choose to remember that evil in any form is no match for the transformative power of God's love.

Consider the story of an ex-ISIS fighter I like to call Raj.  

Raj was 24 years old, had recently dropped out of college and was raising a child alone.  He had no friends, lived in New York and spent most of his time online.  Raj is the guy I see at the gas station countless times - on the phone with friends overseas - disconnected from anything meaningful.  He is the quiet guy that makes us nervous - never realizing he was just disconnected.

See, Raj saw that ISIS was recruiting and responded to the call. He left New York for Turkey last year and joined ISIS because they promised him a job, a house and a wife.  Through tears he recounts:

"My life was hard and nobody liked me . . . I didn't have many friends. I was on the Internet a lot and playing games."

So he bought a plane ticket and flew to Turkey where he started training with ISIS.

"They told us, 'When you capture someone, you will behead them,'" he said. "But as for me, I have never even beheaded a chicken … It is not easy … I can't do that."

Three days after he started fighting for ISIS he surrendered.  It was another group that he didn't fit in with.

So now Raj is stuck.  Currently he is in a Syrian prison for fighting with ISIS.  If he goes back to Turkey he will go to prison.  If he comes to the States he will be put in prison.  His stint with ISIS just made a bad situation worse.

It reminds me of something a pastor-friend used to tell me.  
"Sin keeps you longer than you want to stay and makes you pay more than you want to pay."  
Sin seems like a party but it becomes a prison in the end.

Now of course not all ISIS individuals are like this.  Obviously there are those that are just bent on evil and can't wait to come to your hometown and hunt you down and pop your head off.  They think they will be doing God's work the whole time.  We can't lose sight that as a group these people are very interested in stopping our way of life.  I am glad there are people whose full time job is devoted to stopping that from happening.

But we can't forget the people like Raj that are caught up in the lie.  I imagine a good portion of ISIS is made up of these kinds of lost souls.  Friendless, drifting and unsure of their place in this world.  Perhaps we need to be praying for them - because no one is lost to God.

Better yet, since Raj was an example of someone who came from America, maybe we should budget more time at the gas station or wherever lost souls are.  Perhaps we need to talk to the Raj's out there who feel like they have no connection to anyone else.  People find something worth living for when we don't give them something to live for through something as simple as small talk.

Click here for a link to the interview 

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