77-Year-Old Missionary Offers Spiritual View Into Paris Attacks

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Muslim children await the arrival of Pope Francis.
Muslim children await the arrival of Pope Francis. (Reuters)
I am sure that the people of Paris felt secure as they went about their business on Friday evening, November 13. For some, they were attending a concert; others, a soccer game. Even more were just having a pleasant dinner. But for 130 people in Paris, a typical Friday night ended in tragedy as members of the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS, struck in a barbaric way.

Most of us are following the news and at times, it's overwhelming—that's for sure.

The Bible says "weep with those that weep" (Rom. 12:15). I just saw the Head of France say that they declare war against Muslim terrorists—but for the sake of political correctness, probably did not use the world "Muslims." I sympathize because his job is basically impossible. Let us renew prayer as the Bible teaches that we should pray for all government leaders.

In my view, when cartoons were released against Mohammed, they already declared war against all who are Muslim and honor Mohammed as their prophet. Why can we not try to understand Muslims and what they believe?

We know that's hard as they have many streams of Islam, but we know one thing they share—even the most moderate liberal Muslims—is their incredibly high (impossible for most non-Muslims to understand) honor, respect and almost worship of Mohammed. Is it asking too much to ask all people to respect that?

That one act in France and other places has turned millions of Muslims across the world into what we call "terrorists." (How dare we say this is not a religious thing!)

That is just one example and there are so many. Consider Niger, a land where Christians and Muslims lived together for a long time and there were quite a few church buildings and peace and friendship to some degree.

After the cartoon incident, the Muslims completely changed (which is what extremists are working for all over the world and, to some degree, achieving). In Niger, they went on rampage and destroyed most of the churches. You can multiply this hundreds of times across the whole world, but in different ways. Often the change at this early stage is only in the mind but, with time and circumstance, turns into action.

Do we really think what happened in Paris would have happened in France if social media had not already declared war on Islam (albeit unintentionally)? That is the way huge numbers of people across the world see it. If we fail to face this, we are on wrong footing. Can the major leaders meeting in Turkey not see this?

We are not firstly battling people with weapons; we are battling for their minds. They might be some of the most sincere people on planet earth right now, ready to give their lives for what they believe.

For some years I have mentioned that we could learn from Northern Ireland. How long did it take one of the best armies in the world to bring it under control? In the end it ended not due to bombs and bullets, but by winning and changing people's minds. (Though bombs and bullets were a factor, of course.)

The U.K. is about to spend funds on 1,000 more spies. It blew my mind when I heard that. How much are we willing to spend to win peoples' minds and hearts? Most Muslims at present—and it's changing—here in U.K. are normal, ordinary people who want to get on with their lives. Most are what could be called moderate, but some extremists see everyone as not just a potential follower, but a suicide bomber.

In so-called modern warfare, this is by far one of the most complex things to battle. Study the Sri Lanka model or the Nigerian model. This is why every day we delay produces more potential suicide bombers.

Let's look at the Catch-22 of the masses of Muslim immigrants flooding into Europe. Do you think they are arriving with a plan to attack and destroy us? I don't think so, but there might be a few "sleepers" among them. Yet the way we are behaving, in accordance with our fallen human nature, you can be sure a percentage will become extremists and some of them will be ready to die even as suicide bombers. It's only a matter of time.

This in varying ways is taking place in almost every nation of the world. It means that, in time, just as France has declared war on them, every nation in the world will become like France—or worse. I am no pacifist and honor the Armed Forces, but do we really think this can be resolved with bombs, drones, bullets and spies?

We must win people's hearts and minds, but presently most people are not even talking to Muslims. On the other hand, endless negative books and articles about them—as if there is no dark side in Christendom—has produced fear, alienation and much worse. Forgive me, but has anyone even seen a leaflet or a website that give reasons for not becoming a suicide bomber?

Do we know what's going on in some of the extremist schools in Pakistan and other similar nations (including the U.K.)? Millions are being taught to embrace an extreme fundamentalist form of Islam like they have in Saudi Arabia, who are often financing the spread of this all over the world. The great embarrassment that Saudi Arabia and other similar nations face is that this teaching lays the foundation for terrorism.


It's just one step further into a form of Islam embraced by those ready to kill and carry out terrorist attacks. Saudi Arabia has birthed a movement that is now out of control, and in fact one of the main targets of this movement is Saudi Arabia itself. If you follow that nation, you know they are more fearful than ever of those in their midst who want to overthrow the present regime and have an Islamic State (ISIS)-type nation. It's like birthing a son who later grows up and wants to kill you.

The huge division between Sunni (like Saudi Arabia) and Shiites (like Iran) also adds confusion and fuel to the fire.

My view is that we as people must change. I believe the best way is, as in my life, conversion and transformation by Jesus Christ. There is now a film about this, George for Real, that I would be happy to send to you.

But let's be real—most people are not going that way. So as citizens and members together of the human race, we must believe all people can make the step of just being more loving, forgiving and human. We must believe in different levels of reconciliation and forgiveness. We as believers in Jesus must love Muslims and show respect. If necessary, we must stand with them against injustice.

I am mainly writing this (I seldom write such things) because of my 60 years of love for the Muslim people. One U.S. politician said, "Only allow Christian Syrian refugees into America." [Editor's note: Multiple politicians have since endorsed this position.] I could hardly believe it. Yet he countered that opposing the plan would be considered un-American. Let me say on the authority of the Bible—his position would be un-Christian.

God blessed our work in a huge way in India when we let the Dalit leaders know that we stood with them in human rights and justice whether they became Christians or not. Our best friend was a political Buddhist. I honor at this time every Christian or anyone else who is purposely befriending Muslims. Even hardball, anti-Christian politicians would honor this as what they might see as terrorist prevention. We in the western world are shooting ourselves in the foot with our so-called total free speech and hyper-democracy.

In nation after nation, the opposition party attacks the horrible state of the nation under the present government and especially as they move toward elections. By news and social media, this goes global and proves to fanatics that our nations are filled with total degenerates and that to bomb or kill some of them is to honor and obey Allah.

If you don't believe that increasing numbers of people all over the world believe this and are getting ready to die, I would really challenge you. Look at the recruits from western nations that have gone to fight and die in Syria. When one of their heroes gets taken out by a drone, they think of him as a martyr and hero, and many hundreds more sign up to fight right under our nose. We must wake up!

We must all realize this is the information age. Let Bill Gates put some millions into websites and information that will point out the truth in this. Let every government, church and institution put more money and time into reconciliation. Let every nation spend more money on literature, film and every possible way to tell our story.

Let's have leaflets in many languages—not just in English, French, Spanish and German—that will show people how wrong it is to take another life, especially a non-military person. Show in such a leaflet how their actions harm the victim's family. These cultures are family-oriented and we must make use of that. Let all of us in the west—including us Christians—admit our sins and faults. Let humility and reality reign.

More than any time in history, this is where the ordinary person just loving and making friends with a Muslim—yes, even a Mullah—will help determine the course of history and will save lives for sure.

There must be a grassroots movement, and every person must be a part of it. I am even willing to join hands with an atheist in order that we might prevent more global bloodshed and horror. I oppose unloving, narrow-minded, judgmental Christians, but will even join with them to take this forward.

What if it were my family that was blown up in Paris? What if it were yours? Would I just be sitting back trying to be neutral? In our culture, with lots of money, we spend huge sums to save one life (did you see The Martian?). But here we are talking about millions of lives. Each individual is important.

My heart weeps over increasing numbers of Christians who are opting out, just saying, 'it's the end times.' (Scary Christian conspiracy books are best-sellers). Christ is soon coming back and we cannot really do anything about the global situation. Election time makes people even more irrational. What Bible are they reading?

In closing, thanks for reading this. I wish I could get it in the hands of those leaders meeting in Turkey because if ever they had a Catch-22, it is now. I know what I share here is only part of the answer, but for me it's a vital part. Prayer is priority, but prayer without action is not God's way.

Missionary statesman George Verwer, the 77-year-old New Jersey-born visionary founder of Operation Mobilisation (OM), a worldwide Christian missions organization, has written several books on various Christian themes. He is a passionate advocate of radical discipleship as the only legitimate option for people who believe in Jesus.


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