International (MNN) — ISIS is losing ground.
This week United States-backed Iraqi special forces took most of Mosul, dealing another blow to the ISIS caliphate. They’ve lost ground in Iraq and Syria, and Greg Musselman of Voice of the Martyrs Canada calls the extremist group “demoralized”.
But Musselman says the fight is far from over. “Even though they have been defeated in terms of land in the Middle East, that does not mean that they are going to stop trying to cause havoc and enforcing their brand of Islam on the rest of the world.”
Losing land does not mean losing power.
That’s what makes ISIS so unique. Instead of being centered around a region or a nation, ISIS is focused on a set of extreme beliefs, and thanks to media and the internet, it’s easy for like-minded radical Muslims to connect with the group. “They had this caliphate and that was very attractive to those who are buying into this militant Islam from all over the world,” Musselman says.
Musselman explains ISIS members are beginning to move from group assaults to “lone wolf attacks”, and because these attacks are so removed from the main part of ISIS, the group can pick and choose which events to claim based on the “success” of the project — the body count.
And those attacks are becoming more and more common. Musselman points to Indonesia as an example. With 203 million Muslims, Indonesia has a larger Muslim population than any other nation in the world and has remained relatively peaceful.
However, there has been a rise of recent attacks in southern parts of the country that indicate, though ISIS may not make a massive grab for territory, the group might be facing relocation, not extermination. “With that many Muslims, chances are you’ll find a few willing to join the radical side of Islam,” Musselman says.
ISIS pulls in followers by appealing to Muslims dissatisfied with their societies. “We do know that the propaganda that is happening and ideology that is being pushed by many of these leaders to inflame people says, ‘See? We’re being persecuted, we’re being oppressed, and we need to stand up.’ That’s the rallying cry that they’re using,” Musselman says.
But ISIS’ power doesn’t just come from ideology and physical might. “The Bible says that the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy, and that’s what’s happening. These people are being used by the enemy to cause havoc and destruction.”
That means there’s a very real threat to ISIS idealism: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “They’re against anybody that opposes them, but the Christians are at the front of the line in their mind because of our message as followers of Jesus that Jesus is the only way. It’s not through violence,” Musselman says.
We show our God’s power through love and compassion, while the ISIS agenda says God’s power comes from physical might and aggression. “The message of the Gospel is the opposite of Islam. It’s not about rules, it’s about a relationship with Jesus.”
Christianity is an affront to ISIS ideals, and many Muslims are paying attention. “Often in these kinds of chaotic, tumultuous places, people tend to be more open to the Gospel,” Musselman says.
But Christianity isn’t just a threat to ISIS; it’s a target. That’s why the Church needs to unite in prayer and support. “We need to pray a prayer of protection for our brothers and sisters in Christ, that they will not bend under fear, that they would be bold, that the Lord would give them wisdom.”