Raqqa liberated: Now what?

Syria (MNN) – With all of the hype surrounding North Korea, the tit-for-tat Twitter wars surrounding the White House and policy issues, the roar over what’s happening in the Middle East has been downgraded to less urgent news.

(Image courtesy of Global Catalytic Ministries)

Three days ago, a Reuter’s headline trumpeted “ISIS has fallen in its last Syrian stronghold”.  Yet, by Friday, newscasts had relegated the story to a mere mention, considering the significance of a three-year struggle for liberation.

Raqqa was considered the de facto capital city for the caliphate.  By the time US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces raised a militia flag inside the main stadium, there wasn’t much of the city left that wasn’t in ruins.   Even as celebrations began, the United States Central Command stopped short of declaring victory, noting pockets of ISIS fighters remain.

Even though they’ve lost much of the ground they snatched up in 2014, the group isn’t gone. They’ve already begun preparing for a new phase. Mohamed of Global Catalytic Ministries (GCM) explains, “Because this ideology is still alive, ISIS will morph into something new.  That’s the key question: Praise God that ISIS has fallen and they’re leaving Iraq and Syria, but what about the ideology?”

He added that there will still be funded groups around like the Taliban and al Qaeda that share a similar view on ultraconservative Islam.  When asked what would change that kind of worldview, he responded, “We need to show people that the true way of following God is not by killing yourself, blowing yourself up and killing anyone who’s not like you, but loving on people and showing them that God is love and God is full of forgiveness.” 

More to the point, he noted the admonition in Matthew 10:16 regarding being ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves’, even when surrounded by tens of millions of Muslims who are devoted to Sharia Law which mandates that those who turn away from Islam must be punished and killed.

(Image courtesy Global Catalytic Ministries)

Now is the time to introduce hope—especially with the elation of freedom in Iraq and Syria.  “One of the most powerful ways that we can come alongside the Underground Church in these devastated areas of Iraq and Syria is just being compassionate; how can we come alongside of them and lift them back up?”

Is it dangerous?  Most certainly.  Mohamed cites the earlier part of Matthew 10:16, where Jesus says, “‘I send you as sheep among wolves.’” However, he believes this fear is like a smoke screen which distorts what’s really going on.

“The real ‘fake news’ is this: the wars, the fighting, the killing. The real news is that Jesus is moving powerfully in the Middle East. God is moving! It’s not all destruction and death and craziness. It’s actually amazing things.”   He also says this side of their work is less about personal risk and more about the biggest spiritual revival happening in the Middle East since the Islamic conquest.  “The Middle East is kind of like China 20 years ago, where hundreds, thousands, then millions, are coming to Jesus. The same thing is happening in the Middle East, but we need prayer because this is a spiritual battle.”

People sometimes want to know what difference they can make in such an overwhelming, broken situation.  To that question, he answers, “Everything begins, is in the middle, and finishes with prayer, so I’m actually looking for people to pray for us because I know that God will lead them to move in other ways, too.  I’m looking for prayer partners.”

The goal is to get a thousand people dedicated to pray for GCM in a year.  Imagine what God could do through the prayers of His people!  GCM is on track to release an app at the beginning of 2018 to help people pray more intelligently about transforming Muslims through Jesus Christ around the world.

(Image courtesy Global Catalytic Ministries)

You can also help provide the supplies they need to help survivors.  GCM sends hygiene kits and food supplies to partners who work in refugee camps and other areas affected by ISIS.  They’re also going to need medical personnel as the region recovers. “We are in a huge need of medicine, especially in Syria because the fighting has being going on till [recently], especially in Raqqa.  Helping us getting supplies, moving supplies, coming yourself—we’re also looking for doctors, surgeons, nurses and midwives that are feeling the call of God to come to the Middle East.”

In the vacuum left by ISIS, now is the time to act.  Click here to get details on how to come alongside the Underground Church in the Middle East.