International (MNN) — As ISIS starts to lose its grip, the world is left with a new pressing question: What happens when ISIS is gone?
Emily Fuentes of Open Doors USA says one of the big problems is how unprecedented the ISIS threat really is. It doesn’t come from one particular country or region, and “you can live anywhere, attack anyone, and claim that it’s an ISIS attack. You can get resources and be fueled by the extremism of ISIS from anywhere in the world.”
And “anywhere in the world” is exactly where we’ve seen ISIS influence. The Middle East, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Philippines, and even the United States have all dealt with extremism on a stronger level than any nation has been used to.
It’s not just physical warfare that has changed; spiritual warfare requires a new response as well. “It’s a whole new way to approach loving our enemies, standing strong in the face of persecution,” says Fuentes. “There are a lot of ways it’s going to impact culture and civilization throughout the world.”
But terror isn’t the end of the story. Fuentes suggests we can look to Christians in Syria, Iraq, and other ISIS-controlled areas for hope.
“People were fearful that Christians were going to be pushed out of Iraq and Syria so that there would be no Christian population at all in those areas, but the Church and many Christians who could stay chose to stay. And they’re choosing to return — even after all they had endured — to continue to remain the light of Christ in their country,” Fuentes says.
Open Doors is providing trauma counseling and other materials for Christians trying to rebuild their homes and their lives, but they need your prayer and support to make it happen.
Believers aren’t the only ones who need your prayer. Fuentes encourages us to pray for ISIS militants who have been misled toward the destruction of themselves and others. “Between their torture and genocide, there’s so much that they’ve been responsible for, but Jesus calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.”
The message of Christ’s forgiveness is especially potent in ISIS-heavy areas like Syria. “Damascus is in Syria and it was on the road to Damascus that Saul, who was formerly one of the worst persecutors of Christians, had his encounter with Jesus and became one of the main leaders of the Church.”
Keep ISIS followers and persecuted believers alike in your prayers in the coming months.