Hurray! The Cold War is Over!
In 1989 the Berlin Wall, the wall between East and West Germany came down and the country was re-united as just Germany. And on December 26, 1991 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) ceased to exist, the independence of the twelve republics of the Soviet Union was acknowledged.
The ‘Cold War’ was over! Arsenals could be dis-mantled, armies down-sized. The world had become a safer place, or so it seemed. The world was becoming a global village, what was there to fight about? The conflict between Israel and Palestine reared its head from time to time but we were used to it and ‘accepted’ it as part of our modern world. Peace talks for the region came and went, any new American President had a duty to host some talks and show solidarity to the ‘cause’, but biblical scholars are well aware peace in the region will be elusive until Jesus comes.
So world war three having been averted we all got on with our ‘peaceful’ lives.
Another Breeze is Blowing
Unfortunately we were wrong. There have been many battles fought since the end of World War II, e.g. the Bosnian Genocide of 1995, but for those of us who were not affected we continued our lives in blissful ignorance. Out of sight was out of mind, a few sad faces when the news was broadcast and we saw what was happening thousands of miles away from us and then back to normal.
However unbeknown to the vast majority of us a great catastrophic undercurrent has been brewing in our domain, wherever in the world that domain may be
The proponents of this ‘world war three’ as I like to call it have been bringing this war to us in drips and drops, the flattening of the twin towers, a bomb at the Boston marathon or havoc on the London transport system. We shed our tears, rained a lot of words on how to deal with terrorists and their actions, killed Osmar Bin Ladin and then got on with our lives.
In 2014 we are still ‘getting on with our lives’, but the calm seems to be very uneasy; it feels like there’s a storm gathering steam, a fierce storm.
There’s a new kid on the block who wants to take over the world, his name is Islam.
Now I know the drill, majority of Moslems are peace loving and wouldn’t hurt a fly, they just want to serve their God and get on with life like the rest of us, only a ‘small’ segment have ulterior motives.
That is exactly the problem, the small segment, is no longer small, it’s growing in leaps and bounds and it’s on a mission, a mission that they are more than prepared to give their lives for.
As a present day citizen of the world I’m sure you have heard of the term ‘Jihad’ which means holy struggle or holy war. And is Jihad in the Qur’ran, the holy book and most important authority of Islam, my research says it is. I suppose the next question is, so what does the Qur’ran say about Jihad? Well that’s the slightly difficult part. As is found in many if not all religions, people often interpret their holy book as best serves their purpose. I mean don’t get me started on the Bible, even the devil quotes it (or should I say misquotes it) to serve his purpose.
In my search for answers about Jihad I came across an article by Matt Slick on the CARM (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry) website http://carm.org/religious-movements/islam/jihad-holy-struggle-or-holy-war
“Jihad has been interpreted by Muslims in different ways. The Muslim sect of the Kharijites has elevated Jihad to one of the Five Pillars of Islam–making it Six Pillars. This kind of belief is seen in the extremist Muslim groups we call terrorists. They use the concept of Jihad as a justification for killing anyone who isn’t a Muslim. However, most Muslims disagree with this extremist position of some Muslims and advocate peace. These Muslims view Jihad as a spiritual struggle against evil in a metaphorical sense.
For the most part, there is the Greater and Lesser Jihad. The Greater Jihad is the internal spiritual struggle of the Muslim toward submission to Allah. The Lesser Jihad is Holy War against non-Muslims based on principle of belief. It is this latter that has caused the most concern among Westerners. Is that concern warranted? Many think so”.
I would want to assume that most right thinking people would find it inconceivable that a religion would advocate killing fellow human beings just because their beliefs are different. However what we think is not important it is what is on the ground that matters. Just last month (September 2014) we heard of Christians and other minority faiths being persecuted and killed in Iraq because they refused to embrace Islam.
Right from its inception the followers of Islam have used force to spread their message, if history is to be believed even Prophet Mohammed was not an exception as he frequently used force, or the threat of it, to unify the nomadic tribes of the Arabian Peninsula.
Facts seem to be stacking up that the aim of many Muslims is that Islam should dominate the world. Indeed during one BBC broadcast regarding ISIS I saw someone holding a banner with those very words ‘Islam will dominate the world’. From where I’m standing it does seem to me that that agenda is firmly on the table.
Let’s look at Turkey as a country of interest. According to Wikipedia:
“Turkey is a contiguous transcontinental parliamentary republic, with its smaller part in Southeastern Europe and its larger part in Western Asia (i.e. the Balkans and Anatolia, respectively). Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea is to the south; the Aegean Sea to the west; and the Black Sea to the north. The Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles (which together form the Turkish Straits) demarcate the boundary between Thrace and Anatolia; they also separate Europe and Asia. Turkey’s location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes it a country of significant geostrategic importance”.
If your English is anything like mine I think what they were trying to say is that Turkey is a large mass of land that is partly in Europe and partly in Asia (or the Middle East if you like).
In 2011 the country’s population was said to be 74.7 million people, the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul, is also the largest city in Europe in population, and the third-largest city in Europe in terms of size. Turkey has the world’s 15th largest GDP, and I know I see a lot of ‘made in Turkey’ labels on my clothes so I’m going to assume they’re not doing badly.
Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion; the Turkish Constitution provides for freedom of religion and conscience. It just so happens that Islam is the dominant religion of Turkey with 99.8% of the population being registered as Muslim.
Now why did I start talking about Turkey? It’s because a lot of early church history following Pentecost took place in Turkey. Indeed Turkey is where the church first thrived. Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus, in what is now Turkey. Timothy was from Lystra, not far from Tarsus. Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bythinia are all in present day Turkey.
Paul was not only born and raised in Turkey, but most of his ministry took place in Turkey! With the exception of Salamis and Pathos (in Cyprus), all the places Paul visited on his first missionary journey were in Turkey (Perge, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe and Attalia). Most of his second and third missionary journeys were also in Turkey.
According to reliable traditions, the Apostle John left Jerusalem to become the Bishop of Ephesus. In obedience to Christ’s command, he took Mary, the mother of Jesus with him and cared for her until her death. John was later banned to exile on the Turkish Island of Patmos. It was here that he had a vision and wrote the book of Revelation. We can thus conclude that a major portion of the New Testament was either written to Christians in Turkey or written on Turkish soil.
The seven churches to which letters were written in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 were all in modern day Turkey.
Yes, Turkey was once a bastion of Christianity and sent out missionaries to evangelise a large part of Eastern Europe.
Sadly, very sadly, today finding a Christian in Turkey may just be likened to finding a needle in a haystack, it’s there somewhere, just don’t ask where exactly.
So what happened, what happened to Turkey, that wonderful place that saw the likes of Paul the Apostle, John, Timothy and Mary the mother of our Saviour amongst others?
Yea, you got it Jihad happened!
By the middle of the fifth century, Mohammed’s followers had conquered much of Turkey including the present day capital, Ankara. They also laid a four year siege on Constantinople (named after Emperor Constantine) 654-658, but were unable to take the city until 1453. The city’s name was then changed to Istanbul.
It does seem that the preferred modus operandi of Islam is to take no prisoners, you either join them or you cease to exist, as a result, Christianity has all but ceased to exist in Turkey today.
Now it’s all too easy for us to put our feet up, sigh and wonder out loud about what really happened to the Christian Turks of yonder years and in our nonchalance proclaim that it can’t happen in our town, city or country. Even though the Bible very clearly tells us that ‘…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall’ (1 Corinthians 10 verse 12).
And that will be exactly where the enemy wants us. Living our lives as per normal, attending church services and the odd prayer meeting. Being ‘good’ Christians as we pay our tithes and give offerings on a regular basis, even giving to charity and supporting missions. We would have loved to go to the mission field ourselves but when we were younger we didn’t have the means and now we don’t have the time. I mean, we have to provide for our families right? The Word of God does say that he who doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an infidel, yes that word is in the bible (1 Timothy 5:8).
Well that’s the bad news, but I assure you there is good news. The good news is that we can go to the mission field, the mission field that is the house next door, the mission field down the road and in our town centres. There’s a mission field in our place of work, our college, our gym and our local park and by jolly do we need to be on a mission.
We live in perilous times, check the news on your smart phone if you don’t believe me; the days of being neutral or undecided are over. The fence has been pulled down and thrown onto the rubbish heap so you can’t sit on it, you are either for or you are against. If we don’t stand up for what we believe then we might just go the way of the fence.
An Atypical War
This is war. But it’s not your typical war, it’s a war where one side has been assured of victory, but and this is a very big ‘but’, inasmuch as the Lord’s side has been given the winning crowns it is up to each of us individually to fight the battles we have been given for the sake of the Kingdom.
These are not physical battles “for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds…” (2 Corinthians 10 verse 4) and we know that “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6 verse 12)
I’m sure you have heard of how the Western world is bombing ISIS (the so called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in a bid to halt their onslaught of terror. Thankfully we are wise enough to know that this isn’t a Middle East problem and ISIS is not hoping to be contained within Iraq and Syria and bordering states no they have a very wide vision. However the West have so far refused to put ‘boots on the ground’ as it is called, i.e. no foot soldiers, even though many seem to agree that ISIS cannot be defeated without foot soldiers.
I strongly believe that we need to take the offensive in this battle wherever we are in the world. We need to get our boots, the ones that are an embodiment of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and we need to pull them on and do up our laces (Ephesians 6:15). Then we need to go out there, everywhere and preach the gospel as if our life depends on it, because it does!
All historic wars have depended on armies and today’s wars are no different. Armies need recruits, people fit and able to wage war on their behalf, we need to go out there and conscript people into the Lord’s army, He’s depending on us.
Before the enemy gets to the young men and women who live round the corner and gives them visions of trophies in ‘paradise’, and human heads and AK45’s in this world we need to tell them the Truth. Let them know where paradise really is and The Way, the only way that leads there. Jesus is depending on us to carry this message.
Peradventure we won’t do it for ourselves, or our country or our church, let’s do it for our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews and all those coming after us. I’m sure you know someone who you are hoping to leave behind when you go to the great beyond, think of that individual, what legacy do you want to leave them, what type of country do you want them to live in. Take a second and think if you neglect to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ today and your country goes the way of Turkey (it might seem impossible but it’s not), and the next generations are forced to become Moslems will you see your offspring in Heaven?
Now it may not matter to you, that’s fine, you’ll have this massive mansion in heaven and no one to share it with :).
But if you want to see your children’s children not just in this life but in the hereafter then now is the time to pull on those boots and get moving!
Hoping to see you down town preaching the Gospel, it’s one weapon that we have and that we can use freely :) :)