I’m going to take a short break from my blogs on individual transformation due to the increasing global fear I’m seeing on the news and in my own community. The World powers are beating the drumbeat of war to stop the most recent Extremist Organization in the Middle East called ISIS. I’ve had numerous conversations with high level leaders in the Middle East, and ALL, let me repeat, ALL of them are disgusted by the barbaric actions of this band of thugs imposing their idea of Islamic State on the region. Many of my friends in the area are fearful of the clouds forming in their homeland, and are weary of the constant normative of death and destruction. One Muslim man told me last week, “Why does my 3-year-old daughter have to live in a place where she sees beheadings on our news outlets and I have to explain what’s going on. Andy, We’re tired of this.”
This morning I turned on the news to see both President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron from the U.K. talking about the threat of ISIS to the region and to each one’s homeland. I have had several calls from students and parents who are wondering what’s going on from my limited view of the situation and how Jesus followers are supposed to respond.
I’m going to take a few blog posts over the next week to try to shine some light on a VERY complicated situation, and hopefully encourage you as the world seems to be cracking a part. There is a place to find hope, and we can turn the tide; but it’s going to take a massive effort on the part of those of us interested in promoting hope in what seems to be a hopeless land.
God did not give you a spirit of Fear
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God did not give you a spirit of fear…”
Many of my fellow faith journeymen have called with a trembling of fear in their voice. Whether it’s ISIS in Iraq, the most recent Israel/Gaza conflict, or even the Ferguson Missouri debacle; there’s a sense of overwhelming fear shrouding the faith community. We all need to understand, if we believe that there is a God of the Universe and He has all things in control; then we have to be vigilant to fight the fear being piped into our minds and hearts.
Our obsession with information has produced a 24 hour news cycle that is accessible at every turn. Whether you get your information from traditional network television, cable news, or internet news, just remember; NEWS IS A BUSINESS. The more you consume, the more money is made, and it propagates a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we buy fear, they make fear, and again we buy fear. Over and over again the events in the world that are interesting are couched in a fear framework. This isn’t healthy.
Take heart. God didn’t give you a spirit of fear, so if you find yourself cornered by the darkness of fear in the world, take inventory of what you’re watching, who you’re listening to, and how you’re responding.
I stopped watching 24 hour news, and I will admit, my overall psyche is much more at rest and less anxious than before.
There’s a difference between RE-ACTION and PRO-ACTION
It seems like this ISIS threat in the Middle east is a culmination of hundreds of years of failed policy both in the region and abroad. We know it. We can document it. We can look back into the annuls of history and learn. We are where we are. Now What?
Re-acting to a situation is much less sustainable than thinking far into the future and planning for a different way of living. I recently asked one of my friends in Washington D.C. closely associated with members of congress, “Who is thinking about 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years into the future for the Middle East? It seems like we need to circle the wagons and start proposing long-term action plans.”
His answer was astonishing. “No One.”
Not one person he is aware of is thinking about the future of the region in 20 years.
Now, I must admit, I don’t have a degree in Middle East politics or Middle East sociology.
I’m not a Middle East Economist.
What I know of Islam I know from reading and seeking answers with expert clerics and normal everyday Muslims.
With that said, I do have a project where American Teenagers and Middle East Teenagers can come together and learn about one another. It’s imperative that we continue to think along the lines of the future for the sake of all involved. Of course, my project is small now, and we’ve worked out some kinks along the way, but we have a four-year track record of bringing the next generation together to discuss issues that concern them.
What’s crazy? I find that most Middle East Teenagers think much like American Teenagers. They’re concerned with how they dress, who they hang out with, and what their future is going to hold. Within the context of our outdoor leadership training, we’ve been able to bridge the gaps between students living in this region of the Middle East, and bring American students into the conversation. When we lift the veil of insecurity and ignorance, we find that we’re really pretty similar. We’re all human trying to figure out how to live in a complex world. WE NEED TO SCALE THIS UP!!!
More students can play a MAJOR role in influencing the hearts and minds of the region. After all, just look at who is going to join ISIS now, It’s STUDENTS!!! This is a battle front that’s often hard to comprehend because we can’t see immediate results, but with a little vision; we could plant the seeds of healthy civilizations in both communities that are longing for some answers to this nonsense. Let’s be PRO-ACTIVE.
This is where I need you’re help
My heart is heavy for the students of the world who are growing up in a culture where war is the first option. It may look intriguing in the movies and on video games, but war is devastating to ALL SIDES. Death and Destruction can’t be the answer for my kids who want to live free. Free to express their faith, Free to interact with other cultures without the fear of death, and Free to make their lives into whatever they choose.
I need to begin gathering like-minded souls here on the web and in person who are sick of this. Like my Middle East Muslim Friend said, “There are solutions, but who is going to be brave enough to step out and put them in place?”
For the sake of the next generation, WE need to lock arms in this idea of giving hope to a new civilized humanity.
In an effort to keep this post under 1500 words, I’ll stop here, but there’s a fire burning in my soul today to give students a place, a people, and a program where they can learn about one another, share adventure with one another, and know that each person has value on this earth. We can DO THIS. But I need your help.
Will you join?
Today, begin praying about how you can get involved, and together, let’s not let fear cloud our vision for the next decades.