The middle East is like a boiling cauldron that’s about to explode. The collision of age-old rivals and growing tensions can lead to deadly events with global implications. Details about the situation in the region, says head of middle East Bureau of the CBN, Chris Mitchell.
The emergence of ISIL has shocked the middle East, but this is only one of the events that changed the landscape of the region. Despite the nuclear agreement with Iran, many believe that the region is moving toward nuclear weapons. At the same time as ISIS and Iran “fed” his apocalyptic vision of the coming of the Islamic Messiah known as the Mahdi. In addition, Russia intervened in this volatile region, in order to save the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This bold move by Vladimir Putin has become a factor that can dramatically change the situation in the region with prophetic implications. And in the midst of all this chaos is Israel. Its capital Jerusalem many consider the epicenter of where it will be finally determined the fate and future of the Middle East.
MHN: Chris, what do you mean by “apocalyptic Islam”?
Chris Mitchell: Two major players in the middle East — ISIS and Iran — both have their understanding of Islamic end times. In particular, LIH believe in Islamic prophecy that in a place called Dabic (there is a village in Syria) there will be a battle of the end times involving 80 people-the crusaders, the Christian Nations who oppose ISIS. But in the end the Islamists will win these people, then Islam will be only religion in the world. Iran has a similar vision. They believe that creating the conditions for the return of the one they call the “Mahdi” or “twelfth Imam”. And obtaining nuclear weapons is one of the ways they can bring these events of the end times. So here’s what is fueling those, and others. And we do clearly need to imagine it, to understand the middle East.
MHN: Syrian civil war attracted to the region and Russia. Still quite difficult to figure out whose side she’s on, but it seems that the Russians closer to Iran?
MHN: How does this fit with the biblical prophecies?
The situation is intriguing, because, having started its operation on 30 September 2015, Russia has requested the United States Embassy in Iraq and stated that it intervenes in the Syrian civil war. I really think that with their arrival the situation has changed dramatically. Just a few weeks ago the Russian bombers used by the Iranian air bases for strikes on ISIS. Thus, relations between Iran and Russia strengthened. Seems there is a territory with joint Russian-Iranian access — from Lebanon to Tehran.
If you open the Bible and read the Book of Ezekiel, in the 38th and 39th chapters, you can see that from the North the enemy will come, and once this Union of Nations will oppose Israel. Perhaps now we can see how the rest of the elements of this prophetic puzzle.
MHN: Is Turkey also a part of this puzzle?
It seems that Yes. In Turkey, an interesting situation, because Erdogan, in the opinion of many people I spoke to, sees himself as the Caliph of the Ottoman Empire that once stretched across the Middle East. I guess he considers himself some kind of leader of his neo-Ottoman vision, which can become a Caliph who United the Muslim world.
MAN: Interesting. How does all this affect Christians in the Middle East?
A horrible way — especially in view of the fact that in the last few years, ISIS seized most of Northern Iraq and Syria, and we met with a number of those people who were given the choice of four options. They could either leave their homes or stay, but pay the Islamic tax or convert to Islam or die. And many of them, literally hundreds of thousands of Christians have been displaced and now live in refugee camps. Christians do not remain in the area.
MHN: Chris, you were on the cutting edge — that is so close that you could even see the developing black flag of ISIS. Was it scary?
Rather exciting! I must say that when I was there, it really felt like to be on the forefront of the free world. You know, when you look at ISIS, you can literally feel the darkness and tyranny. And behind you is freedom and light. I think it’s a sign that indicates the nature of the battle in which we are engaged. I was on the front line. I was there with the Kurdish army. But I think that now the front line is very blurred. She may be in Paris, and in Belgium, and Orlando, and San Bernardino. Currently, we are at war, the front line of which may lie anywhere, but I believe that its essence is one — a fight for freedom and fight for our civilization.
MHN: What can be done to help those Christians?
I think, first of all, we should do what they ask, namely: “Please pray for us. Pray about our situation.” And, of course, possible to take practical steps. “CBN International” provides practical assistance to many refugees in Kurdistan. That’s another thing we can do. And pray that the doors were opened for them around the world to countries were ready to accept them.
Among other things in the middle East, what happens is that the Holy Spirit moves in a supernatural way. Muslims see the special dreams and visions throughout the region. We had the opportunity, I can even say a privilege to meet them and hear their stories. This is awesome! I think it is impossible to understand the entire middle East, until you see and don’t know what the Holy Spirit does.
MAN: this is What we, as believers, must remember that our enemy is not flesh and blood, is the spiritual enemy.
MHN: While Jesus died for Muslims. Sometimes forget about it when thinking about their opponents, about ISIS. But some of them can be saved.
That’s for sure. In fact, we recently filmed a story about a former member of ISIS, who was sent into the Church as spies and terrorists, but instead of killing Christians, he agreed to be prayed for, and felt their love.
After the prayer, he, in his own words, felt “like he was sleeping off the hook,” and he also believed in Jesus.
MAN: This is the key! Thank you very much, Chris. Bless you!