Children Bombing Children—The Surabaya Church Bombings

23 05 2018

Church bombing family

The family that bombs together…

On May 13, 2018 a Muslim family of six took on three suicide bombing missions, attacking 3 churches in Surabaya, Indonesia. At least 18 people died, and dozens were injured.

A nine-year-old Muslim girl blew herself up in front of a church. An eleven-year-old Christian boy died.

Children raised to kill children. What has become of us?

That evening a bomb accidentally went off in a nearby apartment complex, killing a Muslim man, his wife and oldest child as they were preparing it for an attack. Their other kids happened to be playing outside and their lives were spared. Had the bomb been successfully armed, perhaps those children would have been carrying it to the next target.

The following day another local Muslim family of five suicide-bombed the police station. Their youngest, an eight-year-old girl, somehow survived the blast. I imagine she won’t make it back to her 2nd grade classroom in time to finish the semester with her friends. And if she does, how will they look at her now?

Indonesia is no stranger to terrorist attacks. However, this is the first time children have been sacrificed. These families are said to be inspired by ISIS.

I am not against Islam. I count several Muslims among my closest friends. Like Jesus, I try to be most critical about my own religion’s problems.

But I hope that my Muslim friends will agree with me, this is an example of religion at its ugliest.

David Garrison writes: “There is an evil in Islam, as with all religions, when it is used to control and manipulate its followers or incite them to violence against those who would exercise their freedom of conscience to embrace a different way. Islam today is perhaps the most intrusive and egregious world religion at squelching nonconformity of belief. We must remember, though, that Islam is probably no more controlling than was Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages or, closer to home, Puritanism in the early years of Anglo-American history. One can only hope that Islam, too, will experience a reformation in its relationship to its adherents.” (From A Wind in the House of Islam p.233)

Historically, Christianity has done equally heinous and barbaric deeds. We have no right to condemn, for we need God’s mercy as much as modern-day Muslims do. Thankfully, the Bible and the Qur’an agree that Jesus is God’s mercy to us.

When we receive God’s mercy, we have mercy to give to others. These two are always connected. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

If we want God to show mercy to us on the Judgment Day, neither bombing our “enemies” nor condemning them will do. Receiving mercy requires two things—1) being merciful to others; and 2) receiving Jesus, God’s mercy to us.

I implore my Christian friends who are wounded and outraged at this tragedy, to pray as Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34)

I urge my Muslim friends to become activists within Islam to promote this saying of Muhammad from the Hadith:  “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”

When religious leaders kill their own family members who want to leave the faith; when minorities from other religions are beaten or killed if they refuse to convert or refuse to follow Sharia Law; when parents teach their children that God wants to kill the children of other religious faiths, O my dear Muslim brothers—as Garrison said, “There is an evil in Islam.” I pray that you will not stand idly by, but will passionately pursue a reformation of mercy.

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You Can Go to Hell

15 05 2017

“I can’t wait for the Day of Judgement when Jesus is made to stand before Allah, his Lord and Creator. And is made to testify against you infidels. He will denounce your worship of him and disassociate himself from you all. Then, Hellfire for eternity for all of you who worshiped Jesus…”

These are the words of my Muslim acquaintance who had gotten himself into an argument with some Christians that quickly deteriorated into mutual swearing, name-calling, and arguing over who was headed to Hell.

Later he sort of apologized to them and explained his frustrations: “You’ll have to excuse me for my rather blunt tone. I deal with Christians regularly. I get so annoyed and frustrated when they constantly tell me that my religion is false, I’m going to hell because I refuse to bow down to Jesus, ‘Muhammad was a false Prophet,’ ‘Islam is a death cult,’ ‘Allah is the moon god,’ etc. I’ve heard it a million times and quite frankly, I’m sick of it. It’s an eye for an eye out here. If you Christians want to tell me that my religion is false and that I will burn in hell for eternity because I refuse to worship Jesus. Then I’m just gonna give you what you gave me, straight intolerance and disrespect.”

Honestly, while watching from the sidelines, I felt some sympathy for the guy. No one likes to be attacked, and in his eyes, he was responding in the same spirit that the Christians treated him. If they thought they were successfully convincing him of their “superior truth,” they were sadly self-deceived.

I decided to enter the conversation for the first time, but to come in the opposite spirit.

I apologized for how we Christians are so often guilty of hate, unforgiveness and judgment, all of which create a veil through which it is hard for people to see our Jesus, who only ever acted out of love, forgiveness and healing of others, even those who hurt him. As I gently turned the conversation back to Jesus, this man’s tone softened, and he surprisingly agreed that neither he nor Muhammad himself could live up to Jesus’ standard—he quoted Jesus’ words about “turn the other cheek,” “pray for your enemies,” and “forgive seventy times.” It turns out that this Muslim may know as much about Jesus as the Christians who were arguing with him. But the way they talked about Jesus fell far short of the beauty of Jesus himself.

The Bible tells us that part of seeing Jesus’ glory is in seeing how he is “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Jesus spoke truth graciously. And the only people he ever argued with were his own religion’s leaders, never with someone from another religion. From what we read in the Gospels, there is no basis to assume Jesus would tell this Muslim man that he is going to hell. It’s far more likely he would look for a way to bring healing and blessing into this man’s life, and see if he’d come back for more.

After our brief dialogue, this previously enraged Salafi Muslim had completely calmed down and offered this:  “I have to thank you. Because you opened my eyes to something. You taught me to be less harsh and more compassionate and understanding towards Christians… Because of you Jim and you alone, I have decided to ‘lower my wing’ in humility and be more patient and understanding towards Christians. As opposed to being harsh, blunt and intolerant. Thank you and may God bless you.”

A transformation had taken place. A small part of that veil was torn, inviting him to come closer. I thanked him for his gracious words, and began praying in my spirit over our next encounter.

Before we parted, he added this spontaneous prayer of blessing for me: “I wish you all the best in your spiritual journey to eternal salvation. And I pray that God blesses you and that He bestows upon you mercy and makes your life long and prosperous. Take care and God bless!”