Steve Addison talks to an Arab brother about multiplying movements in the Middle East.
All over the world refugees and migrants are on the move. Will Burnham reports in from Athens on how people on the move are turning and putting their faith in Christ and learning to follow him as disciples in newly planted churches.
From the Spectator:
At least 36 people [ed now 49] have died in Egypt after blasts targeted Coptic Christians on Palm Sunday. Today’s attack is just the latest strike in the war on Christians in the Middle East. As Jonathan Sacks observed: ‘until recently, Christians represented 20 percent of the population of the Middle East; today, 4 percent’. In 2013, John L. Allen Jr. wrote for The Spectator on the global persecution of churchgoers — the unreported catastrophe of our time. Unfortunately, the article still holds true today.
According to Pew Research the World’s Muslim population is more widespread than you might think.
As of 2010, there were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, making Islam the world’s second-largest religious tradition after Christianity.
Although many people, especially in the United States, may associate Islam with countries in the Middle East or North Africa, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Pew Research Center analysis.
More Muslims live in India and Pakistan (344 million combined) than in the entire Middle East-North Africa region (317 million).
Scott Atran understands movements.
In a penetrating essay Atran argues that,
[we have not grasped the] revolutionary character of radical Arab Sunni revivalism. Its revival is a dynamic, countercultural movement of world-historic proportions spearheaded by ISIS.… In less than two years, it has created a dominion over hundreds of thousands of square kilometres and millions of people. And it possesses the largest and most diverse volunteer fighting force since the Second World War.
ISIS has a plan.
[It is] a purposeful plan of violence that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-anointed Caliph, outlined in his call for ‘volcanoes of jihad’: to create a globe-spanning jihadi archipelago that will eventually unite to destroy the present world and create a new-old world of universal justice and peace under the Prophet’s banner. A key tactic in this strategy is to inspire sympathisers abroad to violence: do what you can, with whatever you have, wherever you are, whenever possible.
Atran and his team conducted dozens of interviews and behavioural experiments with youth in Paris, London and Barcelona, as well as with captured ISIS fighters in Iraq and members of Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s affliate in Syria).
His conclusion? ISIS has “a profoundly alluring mission to change and save the world."
Atran understands ISIS as a movement.
Ultimately the West’s greatest challenge in facing the threat of ISIS is not military hardware but a lack of meaning and purpose.
At the time of the Islamic revolution in 1979, there were around 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands – some say more than one million.
Carey Lodge reports:
Christians in Iran face relentless persecution. Ranked ninth on Open Doors' list of countries where it's most dangerous to be a Christian, open churches are forbidden and converting from Islam – the state religion – is punishable by death for men, and life imprisonment for women. Last year more than 100 Christians were arrested or imprisoned and allegations of torture have emerged.
And yet, the church in Iran is thriving.
In 2015, Operation World named Iran as having the fastest growing evangelical population in the world, with an estimated annual growth of 19.6 per cent. According to Mark Howard of Elam Ministries, an organisation founded by Iranian church leaders with the purpose of expanding the church in Iran, more Iranians have become Christians in the last two decades than in the previous 13 centuries combined.