[by Sandy McIntosh] The Middle East is in turmoil. That’s not news, but western Christians may believe they are targets of a new religious crusade, as the persecuted enemies of Islam. There is some violence against western Christians by Muslims, but we are not a prime target.
Muslim Arab and Jewish Israeli rivalry is also becoming an old story.
New forces are emerging, “Great Satan” U.S.A. and the Israeli Zionists are not the only concern now.
In 2013, in a suburb of Cairo Egypt, a mob of thousands of Muslims attacked a worship service in a house. They set the house on fire, dragged four men into the street, and beat them to death while the police watched and did nothing. So who were these persecuted worshipers?
The worshipers were minority Shiites and the mob was majority Sunnis. Minority Muslims, often led by Shiites from Iran, are now in a deadly civil war with the majority. The heaviest fighting is in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and it is brutal. There is related stress in Lebanon and Turkey.
Egypt is struggling with permitting Muslim tourists from Iran into their country. Iranian Muslim tourists are not welcomed, by many Egyptian Muslims.
Did you know the majority in the Persian Gulf oilfields are Shiite, similar in religion to the Iranians who live nearby? The governing communities in the Arab Gulf are Sunnis from remote desert regions. They arrived and conquered, about a century ago, and now the Shiite residents watch as the Sunnis pump all the oil from their ground. Arab governments are alarmed about the potential for conflict.
The Sunni Saudis have threatened to develop an atomic bomb if the Shiite Iranians get one. They feel the need for protection.
Another minority is the Kurds, who are ethnic Iranians and Sunni Muslims. They are fighting Arab Sunnis, mostly in Iraq and Syria, with strong support from western countries.
And another force is emerging; African and Asian Christians. Outspoken African Christians number in the millions, many described as Pentecostal. Somali Muslim fighters from al-Shabaab recently attacked a university at Garissa in Kenya, killing about 150. They sought out and executed Christians.
In West Africa, countries like Nigeria and Ghana have some of the largest, and boldest Christian communities anywhere, and also many conservative Muslims. In that mix a terrible war with the Muslim group Boko Haram has emerged.
Very recently, a large number of African migrants crossed the sea to Italy, in a small boat. While at sea, Muslims violently murdered Christians by drowning them. The Christian survivors held on to each other to avoid being thrown overboard.
I guess the Christians did what all Christians do in a small boat in a storm; they prayed. Possibly they sang, and maybe someone preached; and probably not quietly. The whole story may come out soon, but it’s easy to guess.
The presence of these African Christians was so repulsive to the Muslim passengers that they resorted to mass murder.
The trends are obvious, even if the western media ignores them. Westerners like stories about themselves.
The real story is that conflict in the Middle East is changing.
Conflict between Muslim communities is spinning out of control.
And devout and outspoken Christians from many parts of Africa and Asia are working in the Middle East in the thousands, and possibly some day, in the millions. The expansion of third world Christianity has been explosive recently, and the explosion is now reaching into Islam. For example, many Eritrean (African) Christians are active in Saudi Arabia. Pentay (Pentecostal or Evangelical) Christians in Eritrea have underground churches in their own country to escape persecution, and this adapts well to the Arab Middle East. The Semitic Eritrean language is similar to Arabic.
If trends continue, westerners will watch from the sidelines as new forces change the world around them.
Don’t remember these earlier events; don’t recall these former events. Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it? Yes, I will make a road in the desert and paths in the wilderness. (Isaiah 43: 18 and 19)