Open Doors response to World Trade Center and Pentagon Attacks on Sept. 11, 2001
How should Christians respond?
By Terry Madison, President/CEO of Open Doors USA SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA (Sept. 12, 2001)
Surely the very soul of our nation was rocked by the violence we watched unfold before our eyes by the perpetrators of mayhem and madness. At Open Doors, our hearts go out to the innocent victims and their loved ones: those on the highjacked airplanes and those killed and wounded in the buildings and streets of New York and Washington, D.C.
We honor the daring dedication of the firemen and police officers that rushed to rescue those trapped in collapsing buildings. We pray for the doctors and nurses who are called upon to sustain life and mend broken bodies in numbers unimaginable. We join with the nation in shock that such evil would penetrate the most dominant, powerful nation in the world, and we cry out to the Lord that His peace and mercy will take hold of our pain. And in the midst of the trauma that these horrendous acts of violence evoke, I have a fear that the shock of the terrorist attack upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will confirm for many Americans today what they already believe--that all Arabs and all Muslims are terrorists and murderers of innocent people.
As traumatized Americans, it will be so easy for us to turn our frustration, anger, and hatred towards the Middle East and towards Arabs and Muslims living within our own country. May I gently suggest that we need to look at the horror of Tuesday's events from another perspective? First, not all Arabs and Muslims are terrorists. In fact, most of them are decidedly not terrorists. They are as victimized as we are by the actions of a radical few. Imagine what it must be like for Arab Americans today at work, and their children at school. As long-term or recent citizens of our nation, they will bear the brunt of the suspicions, anger, frustration and hatred of fellow Americans who are searching for answers to the questions: "Why?" Why us? Why here? Why now? If there was ever a time for Christian Americans to show concern and love to our neighbors of Middle Eastern heritage, it is today and for the many today's that will follow.
Our government's abuse of Japanese-Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor is a good example of what can happen when we blame the wrong group of people. Brother Andrew of Open Doors prophetically stated five years ago in his book, "For the Love of My Brothers": "I cannot stress strongly enough my sense of urgency that we reach out to as many Muslim and Arab groups as possible while they are still reachable because anyone who is reachable is also winnable. We've seen that there is a startling openness to the gospel among some of these people. But unless we go to them now in love and influence them in a Christian direction, the ongoing cycle of violence and revenge will force them to take hard-line, extremist positions. Then they will come to us--the "Christian" West-- in judgment. "It is already happening, and we are still not doing anything about it. The first World Trade Center bombing (of 1993) was only the beginning. On Dutch TV recently I saw a frightening documentary about the rise of militant Muslim activity in America. FBI spokesman Oliver Revell minced no words: "Hezbollah and the Hamas are very active in the United States." We now know that they have carried out military training operations including firearms practice (and) the creation of construction of explosive devices and bombs.
The call to American Christians is not to turn in the direction of hatred of our Arab and Muslim neighbors, and not to call for the destruction of Muslim states in the Middle East. Rather, it is a call to Christians to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to pray for peace in the Middle East. The call is to pray for Christians in the Middle East, small in number, large in faith, who under incredible difficulty attempt to be salt and light in their predominately Muslim countries. The Open Doors philosophy of ministry is so well captured in Rev. 3:2, "Wake, and strengthen that which remains and is at the point of death." Brother Andrew uses the word "ISLAM" as an acrostic. For him it means: "I Sincerely Love All Muslims," those born and raised under Islam, for whom Christ also died. If we create an enemy image of the Arabs and followers of Islam, it is impossible for us to love them. If we hate them, it will be impossible for us to be motivated to share the gospel with them. Ultimately, it is Christ's love, not our hatred, that will bring peace to all men.