Before you accuse me of being crazy and radical [are you proud, PG?] I dare you to read on. Because yes, I pray for the organization known as ISIS. Not against them, but for them. And I do it quite often and with tears in my eyes and a severe burden in my heart.
The acronym ISIS (or ISIL or ISI or whatever they are calling themselves today) has been one linked with terror and destruction for the last few weeks (months?). They are ruthless and cruel and it is no secret that they have made threats against America, this great nation of ours. We know that ISIS is persecuting my brothers and sisters in the Middle East. They are using terrible and terrifying manners of torture and punishment against my Jewish brothers and sisters and against the Bride of Christ in Iraq and Assyria. It is absolutely heartbreaking, and yes, alarming for the American Christians unfamiliar to religious persecutions (most of us y’all, let’s be honest). But y’all (yes, this deserved another one), this threat is nothing new. Let me explain.
As I received a text message from a pretty prophetic friend whom God often speaks to in dreams, she shares that she dreamt of an attack. I won’t share details, because they’re not necessary. Just pray. But, as I joined her in prayer (there was urgency in her tone and in her delivery) I laid all down and purposefully set my face and my heart to join God’s heart on this matter. And yes, I prayed a hedge of protection, and I prayed that God would expose and confuse the enemy’s plans. I wanted to pray fire and brimstone over them y’all. I really did. I often do actually [want to, not actually do it]. But in good ol’ God-fashion, He leads me away from the place of judgment to the place of mercy. And as I pray, it hits me. ISIS is modern day Saul.
You know Saul. Well, you know Paul. But Paul was Saul. And He severely persecuted God’s people. Severely.
“Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him [Stephen, the first martyr] to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles... But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.”
– Acts 8:1,3
I mean, that sounds pretty familiar guys. It sounds exactly like every gruesome report put out on what these guys are doing overseas. Saul was one man, but he had disciples/followers just like every other religious leader of the day. So, he wasn’t alone in his sentiment or his actions. He did a lot of damage and killed a lot of people. If you will, he began the persecution movement towards believers. Stephen was the first martyr and Paul orchestrated his death.
That being said, that Saul was encountered with a revelation of Jesus Christ.
“Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting…'”
– Acts 9:1-5
And after this encounter, Jesus Christ transformed Saul into Paul.
And this where my prayers are. If God did it two thousand years ago with a man named Saul, why can’t God do it today with a terrorist group that call themselves ISIS. Scripture declares over and over that it His will that all men shall be saved. Yes, even those monsters. Only they’re not monsters. They are souls lost and genuinely precious in God’s sight. If we as believers genuinely believe there is no pit too deep that He cannot save us from, then why not believe for the salvation of this entire organization? So what if they’ve terrorized His bride? No pit too deep y’all.
I know. This is radical. And stupid by most standards. An eye for an eye. They deserve justice and judgment and slow and cruel punishment. I know. But so do I. By the measure with which I judge, I will be judged. And I want, no, I need mercy. Constantly. Daily. And y’all, so does ISIS. I am not by any measure of any imagination condoning their horrific actions. They are wrong and horrific, but if God can turn Saul into Paul [who by the way, became the writer of 2/3 of the New Testament and is probably a role model for many of us] He can turn ISIS upside down and break out His spirit with revival, signs and wonders and a movement of true love for Jesus. God is able and willing but I wonder if the Church is?
I am writing this post today because I want to dare Christians to pray for ISIS and not against them. Pray for the salvation of their souls the same way you would a family member, a dear friend, a child. Christ seems them as such, as should we. I want this post to go viral, not for the sake of my glory, but so that as believers, we can unify and pray. Wouldn’t that resolve every issue? If ISIS gets saved, there will be no attack, no more genocide, no more monstrosity. Just revival.
I know. I’m crazy. But I genuinely love these sick, twisted, sin infested people. God does. So I am called to. I don’t like their actions. I hate them. They are grievous and hurtful, but God is bigger. He is so much bigger.