In response to the increased influence of radical Islamic ideology in institutions, and rising acts of terror taking place throughout the world, Rev Fred Williams writes that Christians should respond in love.
History demonstrates the fact that human beings have an incredible capacity for hatred and wickedness.
As we see the global scale of the spread of terror, inspired by radical Islam, raging on with unfettered vigour, and the feverish thirst for blood, clouted in an ancient religious ideology determined to change our lives, continuing to mutate and innovate, this attention-grabbing phenomenon that is threatening almost every society on earth today is very intelligent, and has a capacity to exploit social imbalances with lethal consequences. It appears the youth, women and young girls in particular are being exploited and targeted increasingly: eight-year-olds being used as suicide bombers by Boko Haram; young schoolgirls migrating from cities like London to join IS; many Black youths of African and Caribbean heritage are embracing the ideology in prisons. It’s a disturbing realisation, but it seems radical Islam appears to have a devious plan for our youth and children.
The overwhelming majority of us feel helpless and ill-equipped to face this trend, and the exponential development of the issue cannot be wished away. We all need to dig into the deep recesses of our hearts to ponder and offer a counter ideology.
Ultimately, it is our collective responsibility to develop innovative and proactive solutions of engagement and containment.
We can dramatically limit the impact of terror, by developing a new moral compass of what I describe as ‘creative defiance’. We can change the narrative, by choosing to love instead of being fearful. This leads to a robust dialogue, because it has practical and significant social implications.
We need to initiate affirmative action, backed by a deliberate choice to respond with kindness and not bitterness. I guess it’s a call to die to one’s self enough to really look out for the welfare of others. This can completely craft our outlook to life. Love is more violent than terror, because it defies hatred. It builds, it freely gives and always protects.
I sincerely apologise if this sounds like another sermon on love, but it is clear we need a major rethink about this issue of terrorism.
An unflinching conviction of selfless service to humanity is one of the keys to dealing constructively with Boko Haram and other terror groups. Christians are wired to model this as a lifestyle. The Church has to teach people to die to self, so that they can live for Christ. As demonstrated by Christians dying for their faith in Syria and other parts of the world, it’s a reality we have to face. The scorn, hatred, persecution, suffering and injustice are a great opportunity to shine the light in a dark and brutal world. Yes, it is true that human beings have an incredible capacity for hatred and wickedness but, similarly, human beings also have an incredible capacity for compassion, love and forgiveness. This ideology of fearless love does something to the human nature that terror has no answer for.
“An unflinching conviction of selfless service to humanity is one of the keys to dealing constructively with Boko Haram and other terror groups.”
Terrorists are filled with such hatred that they are willing to take lives – including their own, but we can counter that with a mindset that is filled with so much love and fearlessness that we are willing to lay down and sacrifice for others out of care and compassion. I have made it part of my aim in life to find such remarkable persons and tell their stories. Love is indeed more violent than terror, and there are people out there modelling this principle. A great example is Joshua Adah.
A friend of mine, who works with a missionary called Rev Jim Stevens, told me how Joshua Adah took him to piece of land where he wanted to be buried, in a remote village in Taraba State, Northern Region, Nigeria. Jim said Adah wanted to be buried among the people he served. Adah moved into a remote Kuni village, and built a school providing free education for over 400 students. He chose to give up the comforts of city life and serve the people of Murkuni Village, people with a different culture and background to his. He provided medical care, shelter, food, vocational training and engaged in community development projects. In an inspiring interview, Adah said he did not consider what he was doing as a sacrifice but a privilege. Adah worked extensively in rural areas, and was killed a few days ago by Muslim extremists when his car broke down on a journey. He continued to serve until the very end because he was convinced that there was no better way to live than to love and lay down your life for others. What a brilliant example to follow.
So, am I saying every Christian is called to die for Christ? Yes, because until we begin to be willing to die for Christ, we are not really ready to live for Christ. If we cannot trust God as our ‘undertaker’, how can we embrace Him as our ‘midwife’?
REV FRED WILLIAMS is co-founder of LoveBack, human rights advocate, and film producer with UK-based Christian Concern. LOVEBACK focuses on engaging people in creative and constructive ways of responding to terror.