Take Mozambique. According to Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs, “There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 800,000 people displaced in northern Mozambique by these attacks and by this attempt to build a caliphate there.”
Wherever these affiliate groups go, Christians and other religious minorities suffer:
“When this Islamic State affiliate comes into a village, they often will identify, ‘Okay, who are the Christians?’ They will ask them to recite the Islamic creed to become a Muslim on the spot. And in some cases, they are beheading people who refuse to become a Muslim, who stand on their Christian faith and refuse to denounce Christ.”
Even if they aren’t executed, Christians often have their homes burned down or are forced to flee.”The Islamic State is a radical Sunni organization, and their interpretation of the Quran is [that] somebody who was born in a Muslim family is a Muslim, and they are required to stay a Muslim their whole life,” Todd says. “If someone out of that background were to meet Jesus… in the eyes of the Islamic State, that person is now an apostate.”
They should be given one opportunity to return to Islam, and if they do not do that, they should be executed.”
So how do you stop the spread of a movement this devastating and lethal? Politicians, economists, and activists all have their own answers, but so does the Bible. “We need to share the Gospel,” Todd says. “We need to tell the message of Jesus, to [help them] understand salvation through Christ alone to understand the idea of of loving our neighbors and wanting the best for our neighbors, and that is a direct opposition to what the Islamic State is teaching and what they are putting into action in the places where they have influence.”
When Christians respond with love in the face of violence, people take notice. Voice of the Martyrs and their on-the-ground partners are seeing a new openness to the Gospel across radio – you can read some of those stories here. Pray for the voices of mercy to drown out battle cries and calls for violence.
Header photo courtesy of Voice of the Martyrs South Africa.