In the Garden of Eden, there was only one law: “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die”(Genesis 2:17). If only this law were to be kept, everything else would have been free. Because sin did not exist in the Garden of Eden, no other laws were necessary. Likewise, Heaven is a place for eternal life without the need for laws because neither sin nor Satan exists. Even this single law from the Garden of Eden is not needed in Heaven. But even if the most perfect law were to exist in Heaven, the truth sets us eternally free from sin.
Among the sinful Israelites, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees placed themselves as rabbis, justifying their righteousness through the law while condemning the sins of people. Hearing the teachers of the Law, the Israelites experienced greater despair and pain under the curse of sin. Within the darkest period of 400 years under the reign of the Romans and without prophets, Jesus Christ was born as the King of Israel in Bethlehem. Jesus became the friend of sinners, as he resided and shared the gospel with them, and he finally died on the cross to save them. The time when Jesus was falsely condemned to die on the cross was one of the worst times in the history of Israel. Yet at that climax of darkness, Jesus Christ began the most amazing history of salvation, through his crucifixion and resurrection.
Limitations of the Darkness
As there is nothing new under the sun, mankind’s sins are nothing new, but are increasingly more prevalent throughout the world as time goes on. Mankind’s sin was wickedness itself from the very beginning. Because God received Abel and his offerings, Cain killed his brother Abel in anger. Because God received Jesus Christ and not the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, they nailed Christ on the cross. Even today, if God receives worship from one group of people and not worship from another group, the latter group would attempt destroying the other out of jealousy and resentment.
However, the assumption that God’s ministry would be greatly challenged when the world is filled with sin is not true. In fact, greater wickedness from humanity was ultimately followed by God’s divine intervention, as in the Great Flood in the time of Noah. God’s judgment through the flood also meant salvation and new life for Noah’s family and the animals in the ark. Darkness, therefore, cannot overcome the light. The power of sin cannot overcome the Kingdom of God. Rather, the light shines even more brightly in the darkness. Throughout each generation, when all hope was lost and wickedness prevailed, a historical revival began, and the restoration of the church and the great harvest of souls took place. In the midst of persecution from the Roman Empire, God’s church spread rapidly from Jerusalem to Asia and Europe. When the corruption of the Catholic papacy was most dire, the Protestant Reformation movement led people from all over the world, to church. The more worse the situation, the more desperately people seek the truth, and a great number of hopeless and weary people came to know Jesus.
The Limitations of the Radical Islamic Fundamentalist Movement
The Islamic fundamentalist movement is becoming more powerful. Enraged by their atrocities, the U.S. and its allies are shaping concrete strategies for counter-attack. And as a result of the revengeful war between Islamic fundamentalists and Western powers, the mission for Islam seems to be at a greater risk. However, this is not the case.
Let’s take a look at the example of Afghanistan. From 1997 to 2001, as the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, the door to Afghanistan seemed to be closed to Christian missionaries. The Taliban, which was a madrasah student organization, strictly prohibited Christian missions. Furthermore, they banned women’s education and their social activities, while obligating them to wear the Burka and to cover all parts of their body with black clothes. All images, photographs, and music were also banned. Afghanistan seemed to be shackled in darkness.
However, in 2001, the Taliban government was overthrown, and the Afghans who suffered from the Islamic fundamentalists, turned their backs on Islam. Experiencing what it meant to follow the literal Qur’an, Afghans, and especially the minorities such as: the Hazaras and the Uzbeks, rapidly accepted the gospel. Appalled by the reality of Islam, people have opened their hearts to the gospel, and have begun to accept Jesus as their Lord.
The ultimate goal of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is to build an Islamic state that stretches its power over the entire Arab world. While the Western nations labeled them as “ISIS” because they refuse to acknowledge their declaration of the state, this Islamic Sunni organization calls itself as “IS” (Islamic State) as it widens its military influences to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. The organization is also recruiting an immense amount of financial resources from Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city, and from major oil sites they have conquered. With the initiation of a counter-attack by the allied forces comprising of the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran, the Middle East is once again being ignited.
ISIS militants are ruthlessly persecuting citizens who are not obeying their laws; they openly execute captives and Western journalists, publicly crucify Christians, and publicize the video recordings of these executions to declare their religious/political standpoint and to instigate global fear. Not only do they make all Christians their targets for execution, but they are also more than eager to massacre the citizens who stand in the way of the construction of the Islamic State, with a firm belief that they are obeying Allah’s command. Their action is an advanced form of the radical Islamic movement once practiced by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. ISIS is not merely a terrorist organization, but an insurgent organization for the purpose of constructing the Islamic State, which they worship. As Muhammad utilized murder, revenge, and the fear of swords to build the Islamic nations, his disciples of this modern age is yet again driving the Middle East into turmoil to attain the same goal.
The Cross Thwarts the Swords of Islam
Worldly authorities tend to display its powers by revealing its violent nature, and subjugate people with fear. It is indeed the ambition of the children of Satan to control the world by the means of fear and terror. The pharaohs of Egypt, emperors of Babylon, and the militants of Islam are all ultimately the children of Satan, regardless of their different outlooks. One can easily realize from their actions, just who their common father and commander is.
If we only focus on the violence of ISIS, it is easy to fall under assumptions that Christian missions to the Islamic world would be difficult. However, this is not true. Despite the cruelty of ISIS, the history of mission work is advancing in the Middle East. When we are reminded by the fact that the best strategy to disable ISIS soldiers is the spread of the gospel and of Christ’s love on the cross, we will be able to rise up as the King’s army who will overthrow Goliath like David did.
Similar to the post-Taliban era of Afghanistan and the post-Khomeini era of Iran, countless Muslims in the Middle East under the control of ISIS are open to the gospel more than ever. Except for the minority group of ISIS supporters, the general public is struggling immensely with the violence of Islamic fundamentalists. Although they may not openly express their thoughts, they are appalled by the religion of Islam. They desire life, and not religion; they seek peace, and not war; they are thirsty for love, and not revenge. Henceforth, they are desperately waiting for Jesus Christ who will fulfill all of what they are desiring.
On June 25th, 2014, the first day of Ramadan which is the Islamic fasting season, the young adults/college students’ Mission Camp started at the BTJ Center for All Nations. During the month of Ramadan, the young adults and seniors who dedicated themselves to God’s mission in Mission Camp in Korea and in the U.S. marched towards the Islamic mission field, including the Middle East. Through various short mission teams including: F.O. (Field Operation), MIT (Mobile Impact Team), Mission Field Intercessors, and M&M (Mission & Medical) teams, they served the afflicted Muslim brothers and sisters, and shared the gospel of the Kingdom to them.
Additionally, diverse mission conferences, including: Vision Camp, IVC (International Vision Conference), GANG (Global Alliance for the Next Generation), and SM (Student Mission) conferences were held worldwide, including in the Middle East, China, Pakistan, India, and Georgia. Through the work of short-term and long-term missionaries in the frontier, we have reaped the fruits of salvation, and found progress in planting churches. Even the local churches in the Middle East joined these ministries during Ramadan by sending their own short-term missionaries to neighboring Islamic countries.
Furthermore, the work of IT mission teams are now inviting the souls in the Islamic world through the Internet to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. When ISIS is exalting their own power and wickedness by conquering Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan, the ambassadors of Jesus Christ are winning countless hearts over to Jesus by loving, serving, and sharing the gospel with them. When Satan’s kingdom becomes powerful and the darkness prevails, the light of Heaven and the true life in Jesus Christ shine even more brightly. When death seems to be dominant, a greater number of souls come towards life with much sincerity. And when the insurgencies of the Islamic fundamentalists such as ISIS grow more violent, the gospel of the Kingdom will spread with greater speed among the weary souls in the Islamic world.
By Missionary John Kang