The Islamic radicals moved their so-called “Holy war” in Europe and the West. But in the middle East Christians decades are flaming the fires of hell lit by the Islamists. In his new book, “Standing in the fire. Courageous Christians are living in terrible times,” author Tom Doyle talks about how followers of Jesus are risking their lives as they share their faith no matter how hot the fire is.
Global terrorism is at a record high level. Millions of middle Eastern Christians face on a daily basis and persecuted because of their faith. But that’s not the whole story. In the midst of the chaos caused by ISIS and other jihadist groups, a growing number of intrepid followers of Jesus Christ risk their lives to share the gospel. Some of these courageous Christians were once Muslims and other terrorists. A former pastor and missionary to the middle East Tom Doyle tells the amazing true stories in his new book, “Standing in the fire. Courageous Christians are living in terrible times”.
MHN: How did you manage to collect these amazing stories? Where did you learn about them?
Tom Doyle, writer: the fact that we work across the Middle East and with many of these people. You are already interviewing me about my previous book “Killing Christians.” It is about the horrible persecution, of martyrdom. But then we wanted to write a book about those who have long had to die, but Jesus kept them alive. In particular, this: the former leader of the ISIS, a former member of “Dzhabhat-EN-Nusra” — a terrible terrorist group in Syria; the secret police; the woman whose husband is a Muslim Imam, all of them are alive, serve Christ, and God uses their life.
MAN: these people risk their lives, paying into Christianity others….
Yes, it is. And they always ask two questions before you give your life to Jesus: are you ready for persecution? And then, if the answer is affirmative, the next question is: are you ready to die for Jesus? I often think about it. Imagine if these questions have been asked in the Church today in America!
MHN: Today we often hear that Christianity disappears in some countries of the Middle East. Is this true?
I think that is the conclusion of those who look at the statistics of Church members. However, they overlooked something else. How about Muslims who come to faith in Christ? And for the last 10-15 years, believe in Jesus more Muslims than all the 1400 years of Islam. Now, compare the next 10-15 years with almost 1500 years. There is imperceptible revolution, about which people do not know. That is why we wanted to tell this story.
MHN: Why do you think they come to faith in Christ? After all, the news not report about it. We only hear about LIH and “al Qaeda”, terrorism is not about Muslims.
I think Jesus reaches them. We know about dreams and visions and supernatural miracles that they see. And yet they see Islam as it really is, and he does not like. They meet loving Christians whom they trust and want to learn about Christ even more.
MHN: Tell the story of one of those brave souls who converted to Christianity.
One of them struck me in the heart — this is the story of MiTo, who lived in the Islamic city Mosul, when there was casting out of Christians.
Mosul has been cleared of Christians. And MiTo saw the three men hanging on crosses. He didn’t understand what was happening, came over and started to examine them. One of the men about an hour had to die, but at that moment he raised his head and smiled MiTo. He came closer and I heard these people singing.
MAN: OH, God, on the cross?
They praised Jesus. At this point, MiTo felt that it lacked life. He said he could also kill himself. He fled to Turkey through Northern Iraq, he met with believers. A week later they helped him to accept Christ. But he was particularly struck by a visit to the underground Church. When they went inside, MiTo suddenly began to back away. The man said, “MiTo, what’s the matter?” And he said that you heard the same song on the cross. She touched him, and he gave his life to Jesus.
MHN: You encourage Christians not to live in fear, Tom.
MHN: What Christians living in the West, can learn from these brave new believers?
You know, we feel that our book has three main thoughts. The first is “choose which voice you will listen.” If we listen to the secular news, we will only worry and panic. This will have a negative impact on us. Believers in the East do not. One leader in Syria told me: “We don’t listen to the news, not to go crazy! We can’t listen to the news. We need to follow God, read the Bible. Yes, some news are disseminated to us by word of mouth. But we are focused on God.” Therefore, it is important to decide what you listen to is God.
Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This happens in different tribes, languages and peoples, so we should not be surprised by the spread of the gospel in the middle East. Decide who you listen to whose voice to listen, and then make faith their “filter”.
Must admit, it is so easy to start to worry. We have six children, four grandchildren. My wife and I often think about them: “Oh, what happened to this one”. But those people don’t think so. Hearing something bad, they immediately say: “God is good. God will fix it. God is good.” All they hear, they pass through the filter of faith.
And finally, thirdly, I think it is time for the believers to prostrate and pray. This radical prayer. I see that it’s what you do in the middle East. We already believe the calls to prayer are only via the Internet or mobile phone, but there are believers praying together here for centuries, when they need God to move. And they put their trust in Him. Therefore, I believe that these three things we can learn from them. However, as many other things.